We're calling it: this is IWC's biggest release of the year — and it almost went unnoticed. Quietly appearing on the brand's website, watch fans eventually discovered the new Pilot's Watch Mark XX and were rightfully excited: it fills an important niche in the IWC catalog. An in-house movement and other subtle tweaks seem to offer the perfect everyday pilot's watch fans have called for.
The Mark XX might look familiar if you know IWC's recent, or historical, pilot's watches. That's because it's very similar to the Mark XVIII, itself based on the Mark XI. That's a lot of Marks and Roman numerals, but what you need to know is that the Mark XI was first made in 1948 for the British air force and has since become a legendary pilot's watch among collectors.
The Mark XVIII was introduced in 2016 and immediately seen as the XI's successor. Unlike so many pilot's watches (especially from IWC) it was smaller at 40mm (the historical Mark XI was 36mm), making IWC's iconic Pilot's Watch line so much more accessible and wearable — and the design more or less nailed the spirit of the original XI.
There was just one problem. Well, perhaps more than one, if you ask nitpicky collectors, but a glaring issue was its sourced Sellita automatic movement — the same found in many and various much more affordable watches — paired to a $4,500 price tag. IWC makes many of its own movements, and you can even get an in-house movement in similar a similar case size in the brand's Pilot's Watch Automatic Spitfire, for less money — even if its design isn't quite as historically connected.
The new Mark XX now offers not only an IWC in-house 32111 automatic movement with an excellent 5-day power reserve, but a range of upgrades from the Mark XVIII touching everything from subtle design elements to specs and case dimensions. Though still measuring 40mm wide, the case has been slimmed by 0.2mm to 10.8mm — subtle, sure, but basically any slimming is welcome. Further, despite a slimmer case, a water resistance of 100m is significantly better than the Mark XVIII's 60m.
(It's worth noting that the movement is made by Val Fleurier, which also makes similar movements for other fellow Richemont Group brands. Some enthusiasts might not want to call it "in-house," but it's definitely a significant upgrade and more interesting than the previous ETA.)
You can read more about the many subtle design changes of the new Mark XX, if you're so inclined, on coverage from sites like Hodinkee. One of the biggest complaints from enthusiasts regarding the date window also seems to have been addressed. The IWC Pilot's Watch Mark XX comes in black and blue dial variants on leather straps, leaving room for future releases to offer steel bracelets.
Overall, though, this looks much like the super-wearable everyday pilot's watch you've been waiting for from IWC. The catch? It doesn't come cheap, at a price of $5,250, available online from the brand now.