HANDS-ON: The new IWC Mark XX is a huge upgrade with its new dials and braceletZach Blass
Whether or not you are a seasoned collector, every collection needs a staple watch. A watch that excels in its simplicity, its versatility and reliability providing a rock-solid foundation within your collection. For many, the watch of choice to fill that role has been an IWC Mark. Robust, legible and handsome with its military and aviation charm, it is a trusted timekeeper that never fails to look good within the context of a wardrobe. Nevertheless, the watch was long overdue for a bit of an upgrade. With power reserves rising, along with the usage of manufacture calibres at lower price points, the Mark XVIII was losing its competitive edge. So, when IWC unveiled the new IWC Mark XX people were eager to scroll to the technical specifications. Sure, the watch, for the most part, looks like its predecessor. Under the hood though, along with some subtle dial revisions only the trained eye would see, the upgraded Mark XX was justified in skipping a number from XVIII to XX. And now, there is even more to explore…
The uninitiated will not particularly notice the changes from the Mark XVIII case to the Mark XX case. But we watch nerds will definitely catch the differences. The stainless-steel case has upgraded its screw-down crown secured depth rating to nearly twice as much, jumping from 60m to 100m. With the raised water-resistance, you may have assumed the case would be thicker – but, if you did, you assumed wrong. In fact, the 40mm case is a hair thinner at 10.8mm instead of 11mm. The case is also not only a touch thinner, but a touch more compact as well. The IWC Mark XX is more wrist-friendly than the Mark XVIII, with a shortened lug-to-lug of 49.2mm – a drop down from 51mm.
For the IWC Mark XX, IWC also made subtle adjustments to its iconic dial. With a new IWC manufactured calibre taking the place of the preceding Sellita-based calibre, the date window has a better positioning – perfectly standing between the second and fourth hour Arabics rather than awkwardly sticking out. Also, in regard to the date, normally collectors prefer a disc that blends into the dial. But IWC recognised that for legibility it would be better to have a contrasting black on white disc, rather than the previous white on black. And, in this instance, it actually works better, as it continues the radial layout of white on the matte black backdrop the hour Arabics provide.
Joining the matte black dial and sunburst blue dial is a new sunburst green dial for the Mark XX. The sunburst finish elevates the elegance factor a tad, dressing up a more traditionally utility-driven timepiece. The indices at 3′, 6′ and 9′ have also been slightly elongated, providing a pseudo sector-like balance the dial did not have previously. These are things only dial purists would catch, but they are welcome changes nonetheless. The remainder is what we already know and love: a legible dial with printed hour Arabics, indices, and outer minutes track, along with a broad central hours and minutes handset, that like the hour indices, are coated with SuperLuminova.
When the watch was quietly announced in July, it was unveiled on a EasX-CHANGE leather strap that can be quickly detached in favour of another IWC EasX-CHANGE strap. But many wondered where is a bracelet? Well, as you can see a bracelet has arrived for the IWC Mark XX, allowing you to quickly swap between leather, rubber, MiraTex, textile straps or steel bracelet at your heart’s content.
The bracelet takes on the signature five-piece link format you are likely already familiar with from IWC, richly brushed with the narrower intermediary links and bevelled shoulders mirror polished. The range of options that IWC provides also ensures you can make the most of the Mark XX, giving its classic pilot aesthetic on leather or utilising metal, textile, or rubber options to take full advantage of its heightened depth rating.
The most pertinent upgrade for gearheads is the IWC Mark XX’s pivot to an IWC manufactured calibre. The Mark XVIII utilised the Sellita-based IWC 35111. While a workhorse calibre designed to IWC’s specs, its sub two days 42 hours of power reserve left a little bit to be desired in a modern marketplace saturated with weekend-proof movements. Well, how does 120 hours sound? With nearly three times the power reserve, the IWC manufactured calibre 32111 affords IWC Mark XX owners five full days of power reserve. While you cannot see it beneath an engraved caseback, the automatic and hacking-seconds IWC manufactured calibre is decorated with Côtes de Genève and perlage befitting of a Swiss movement.
Look, I am not knocking the Mark XVIII. It is still a good watch, and it is available for $750 USD less than the new IWC Mark XX if it is just past your budget. But the Mark XX takes a framework that is good in the modern marketplace and makes it great. A more wrist-approachable and water-resistant case is a subtle yet strong revision in its own and right, and the use of a longer lasting IWC manufactured calibre will entice newcomers and veterans to the line more than ever before. The IWC Mark XX truly is a tangible reminder that the king of aviation watches is well and truly IWC, and at a starting price of $5,250 USD you would be hard-pressed to find both renowned brand-name recognition and such a calibre of specifications at this sort of price.
IWC Mark XX pricing and availability:
The IWC Mark XX is available to purchase now via IWC boutiques and their e-commerce platform, along with authorized dealers. Price: Starting at $5,250 USD
|Case Dimensions||40mm x 10.8mm x 49.2mm|
|Case Material||Stainless steel|
|Water Resistance||100m (screw-down crown)|
|Crystal(s)||Double AR coated sapphire crystal secured against displacement by drop in air pressure|
|Dial||Matte black, sunburst blue and green|
|Straps||EasX-CHANGE leather, rubber, textile, Miratex, and bracelet options|
|Movement||IWC manufactured automatic calibre 32111|
|Functions||Hours, minutes, seconds, date|
|Power Reserve||120 hours|
|Price||Starting at $5,250 USD|