IWC Pilot Mark XII – IW3241

Introduction

For over a decade, the IWC lineup lacked a successor to the legendary IWC Mark II. In mid-90s, during its golden era, IWC decided to fix this and introduced the IWC Mark XII. The IWC Mark XII included many modern upgrades such as sapphire crystal and an automatic movement with date and a screw down crown. In addition, a metal bracelet was offered. The water resistance remained unchanged at 6 ATM along with the dial that’s immediately recognizable as a pilot watch.

The IWC Mark XII was sold and produced from mid-90s to late 90s until it was replaced by IWC Mark XV in 1998-1999. Ever since then, pilot watches have represented a major part of IWC catalogue in various forms. Among normies, IWC is probably best known known for their pilot watches. After the introduction of the Mark XII, IWC introduced many other iconic pilot’s watches such as the Big Pilot and Pilot’s Chronograph. The Mark series continues still today as an entry-level watch in the IWC collection.

Basic Information

ManufacturerIWC
ReferenceIW3241
MovementJLC 844/2
Diameter36mm
Thickness10mm
Lug to lug45mm
Lug width18mm
MaterialStainless Steel
Water Resistance6 ATM

The Crystal & The Dial

The sapphire crystal has no anti-reflective coating on either side. This makes the watch difficult to photograph due to reflections. The crystal has a slight curvature, which adds one millimeter to the height. It may be only my watch, but the crystal seems to be a grease magnet combined with the matte dial. This can also be because the crystal on my watch has micro-fractures. However, it doesn’t change the fact that 30 seconds after cleaning, the crystal is already smudgy from grease.

The dial has serif fonts on the numerals as opposed to IWC Mark II’s non-serif. The cardinal hour markers are tritium along with the triangle at twelve. The date wheel background color is white, which can be divisive as many would probably prefer black or no date at all. From design perspective, the white date wheel brings balance to the dial, but again, it is a matter of taste.

The Case

The case has a brushed finish. The 18mm lug width works perfectly with the case size and makes strap selection easy. Some cases seem to have a tiny chamfer on the inside of the lugs. The way the watch has been finished allows easy refinish. There are no sharp edges or angles and it is very hard to tell whether the watch has been polished.

It is safe to assume that a watch worn for twenty years has been polished during its existence. Some tells of excessive polish are: flat or soft bezel, the chamfer on the inner lug has disappeared or too excessive, underside edge of the case is not sharp and totally matte case without directional brush. Soft scratches and dings can also reveal refinish.

Bracelet

The bracelet is a work of art. To understand how good IWC bracelets are, you need a reference-point. The production of IWC Mark XII started in 1994, which was around the time when Omega released its ‘Bond’ Seamaster. Similarly to the ‘Bond’ Seamaster, the bracelet comes with solid-end links. Strangely, Rolex figured out solid-end links a few years later.

The 18mm bracelet has no taper, but that’s not really an issue. The bracelet is similar to beads of rice bracelets and has five links on upper row and four links on lower row. The links are brushed and they are pleasure on the wrist. The buckle is a butterfly buckle with a pressure clasp and it has stood time well.

The part number for the bracelet is IWA01936.

Strap & Nato

The watches in the wild often come with either deployant clasp or buckle. I haven’t personally handled the deployant clasp, but it is quite well liked. The watch stands out on leather strap, and it is my personal preference over Nato strap and the steel bracelet.

Movement

The IWC Mark XII is powered by IWC calibre 884/2 better known as JLC 899/2. The JLC 899/2 movement is everything you’d expect from a manufacture / luxury brand wristwatch. Winding the movement is smooth, date changes instantly -3 to 3 minutes to midnight and makes a satisfying click when fast forwarding with the quickset. The movement has an iron cup to give it magnetic protection, but the finish is somewhat plain. There is a slight play with the crown before the hands move. The hack second function enables precision time setting and military wristwatch live-action role-plays.

Word of warning: the JLC 889/2 seems to be more sensitive to setting the date in correct time window than the ETA 2892-A2. I have had multiple close calls with the movement when accidentally trying to set the time at 9:30 when the date change mechanism has started to engage. On the internet, there seems to be quite a bit of talk about the robustness of the JLC 899/2. There are claims that the movement is finicky and its shock resistance isn’t great. I haven’t been able to confirm or debunk this.

Another, rather real, downside of the movement is that it has restricted parts supply, and you are dependent of IWC for service. In addition, the JLC 889/2 is more expensive to service than the ETA counterparts. The movement service on 1st of june 2022 was around 200€ more expensive than the ETA of IWC Mark XV.

Conclusion

The IWC Mark XII is a super versatile watch that works perfectly with either the bracelet, leather strap or a nato. It is a good alternative to those who want an Explorer I style, watch but can’t live without date. It’s reasonable size makes it perfect for everyday wear for office or leisure. Additional advantage of the IWC Mark XII is that nobody knows the watch, so it is risk free to wear. If you’re looking for a pilot’s watch or a field watch with a date, IWC Mark XII can easily fulfil this role.

References

According to watch-wiki, Cathay Pacific commemoration references were sent back to IWC and converted to regular Mark XII (source)

In Japan, you can find watches without “Mark XII” text. The reference of these watches is unclear.

ReferenceNotes
IW324101Steel, buffalo strap
IW324102Steel, bracelet
IW324103Gold, buffalo strap
IW324104“Cathay Pacific” limited edition (1000 units), steel case, buffalo strap.
IW324107Limited edition (500 units), platinium, blue strap, blue dial
IW324108“Cathay Pacific” limited edition (100 units), gold case, buffalo strap
IW324109Japanese LE, steel, mostly resembles spitfire IWC Mark XII LE with cursive IWC test. No date.
IW324110Limited Edition (25 units), steel, red seconds hand.
IW324201SAAB LE, ETA movement
IW324202Latuda limited edition, ETA movement
IW324203Fontana limited edition, ETA movement
IW924101
Gold case, gold bracelet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: