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IWC - nostalgia for the pure pilots aesthetic


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24 July 2012

The IWC Schaffhausen Mark XI is still fondly remembered by watch enthusiasts world-wide. Made from 1948 up to 1984, it was specially ordered by the Royal Air Force, and it was one of the first watches that met specifications compiled for professional pilots' use. The manually-wound 89-calibre movement is enclosed in a soft-iron inner case to shield it from magnetic fields. On the dial, nothing but hours, minutes, seconds, numerals, the name International Watch Co., and an arrow symbol, often named the 'broad arrow,' symbol of the crown specially for the British R.A.F.

Sir Edmund Hillary wore an IWC Mark 11 during the 1957 Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition. He was the first person to reach the South Pole overland after Amundsen and Scott. (He had flown as a navigator on Catalinas in the Royal New Zealand Air Force during the Second War).

Today, IWC's pilots' watches are made in versions specially designed for travellers, with features that include time zones, perpetual calendar, with date and month.

However, many IWC enthusiasts nurture a secret longing to see the Mark XI back on the market. Its deceptive simplicity made it an absolute classic.

Click here to read more about pilots' watches