I’m sure it’s out there somewhere, but it’s hard to think of a single wristwatch model from any company that excites as much of a sense of ownership, from owners and non-owners alike, as the Mark series from IWC. There are, arguably, better known watches – the Submariner springs to mind, for instance – but the Mark series is one in which Cheap IWC Replica fans in particular, and watch enthusiasts in general, really feel a personal stake.
Why is this the case? First of all, the Mark watches have a design with very broad appeal: they’re tool watches, and generally have been extremely basic in design, while at the same time being instantly recognizable and very attractive. That combination of completely utilitarian appearance and aesthetic appeal is very powerful – especially because the aesthetics were not deliberate, but rather, an organic consequence of utilitarian considerations, and therefore seem much more genuine than if the goal had been producing a design object per se.
Second, they’ve got an authentic history. IWC Replica Watches first made the Mark XI just after the end of the Second World War, and they were made all the way up to 1984. The Mark XI was subjected to extremely stringent testing; according to IWC Schaffhausen: Engineering Time Since 1868, the testing took 44 days, and was done in five sequences that evaluated the Mark XI across temperatures from -5 to over 46 degrees Celsius. It doesn’t hurt that the Mark XI used a widely respected, even revered, hand-wound in-house movement: the chronometer-grade IWC caliber 89. Combine that past with the fact that subsequent Marks have generally been pretty affordable, and you have something about which collectors have really strong feelings.
The Mark XII came out in 1988, and to this day it’s considered, as Walt Odets put it so memorably on Timezone.com, “every non-pilot’s favorite pilot’s watch.” I’ve always thought that the reverence people have for the Mark XII raises some points worth considering. Over the years, it’s taken on mythical status among IWC Replica Watches UK enthusiasts. It’s pretty anthropologically interesting that if you wanted to, you could really take exception to the Mark XII as being a dumbed-down version of the original. First of all, the XI used an in-house, hand-wound movement; the XII used the Jaeger-LeCoultre caliber 884, which is relatively thin, and which is arguably not the most robust possible choice for a tool watch. Then there is the date window – and with a white disk, no less. In the eyes of many, however, it retains the sense of genuine no-nonsense practicality that had endeared the IWC Replica Mark XI to so many, and it became over the years the standard by which all subsequent entries in the Mark series would be judged.
The new Mark XVIII is an extremely clean, unornamented watch, in the spirit of the most revered of the Marks: the XI and XII, and it represents some major changes from its predecessor, the Mark XVII. The “Spitfire” style hands are still there, but the altimeter-style date window’s been reduced to a single date. The triangle at 12:00 has been moved down slightly, though it’s still flanked by two dots and the case dimensions have been reduced somewhat, from 41 mm in the XVII to 40 mm in the Cheap IWC Replica. At release, it’s also joined by an edition “Le Petit Prince” with a white date window, and sunray brushed blue dial, as well as a very endearing engraving of the little guy on the case back. Both come on very solid-feeling calfskin straps from Santoni, which do a great job adding to the tool-watch, cockpit-centric feel of the new Marks.
The “basic” version is, I think, an interesting case study in perceived authenticity. My first reaction to it was really just purely positive, and purely visceral; I liked the watch immediately and wanted to wear it right away, and on a certain level that’s really what matters when you’re trying to figure out if a watch is for you. A magnet for controversy though is the IWC Replica date window. It’s about as unobtrusive as a date window can get, but it really bothers some people; some find its placement slightly to the center of other dial elements extremely irritating. There are three reasons this might be so. The first, and easiest to understand, is that it’s just asymmetrical to other dial elements and if you’re very demanding about that sort of thing then it’s something you’ll notice.