Last year, IWC launched the Mark XX in a somewhat unusual way for a marquee watch from a big Swiss brand: without much fanfare at all. We’re accustomed in the watch world to getting teased about new releases weeks ahead of time, with splashy PR campaigns to accompany the biggest reveals. The Mark watches, for many watch enthusiasts, are the watch collection that comes to mind when thinking about IWC. So for the new Mark, arguably the most critical of the entire Pilot lineup (don’t @ me, Big Pilot fans) to just kind of appear on the website one day last year was a little surprising.
Now, almost a year later, the Mark XX is very much out there and certainly no longer an under the radar secret to stumble over. The subtle updates to the dial (including a date window which appears to be a bit more in harmony with the outer Arabic numerals clocking the hours) and a higher spec movement have gone over well with the collector community, and the Mark XX is the rare update to a core collection watch, from any brand, that seems to have a consensus around being an improvement. Think about how rare that is, for a minute. When the new 41mm Submariner was announced in 2020, Rolex fans were close to war. But with the new Mark, if you liked the last one, chances are you were going to like this one more. If it was never your thing to begin with, your opinion probably didn’t change. It was that most uncommon type of watch release: one with no real controversy.
Since the black and blue dials dropped last year, IWC has also released an attractive green dial, which had many IWC Pilot watch fans wondering when we’d see a white version. Well, the answer is “right now,” and the release of the latest Mark XX has been timed to coincide with the 75th anniversary of the storied Mark series. The white dialed Mark has been a love it or hate it proposition for years. The white Mark XVIII had its fans, but in forums and on Instagram you’d often see discussions about the absurdity of a white dialed pilot’s watch. I never quite understood that sentiment. While historically this type of pilot’s watch would certainly have a black dial and a black dial only, in a modern context a white dial makes a lot of sense. With black accents it’s very high contrast and easy to read, and a white dialed sports watch (which is how these operate for 99.9% of the people who will be wearing them, well outside of a cockpit) is always going to be desirable. Well, not always. I guess that’s where the controversy is here. But I like a crisp white dial, so I’m in full support of the option.
The newest Mark XX variant actually has what IWC describes as a silver-plated dial, which likely gives it a luster similar in quality to the other new Marks, and a less matte-like finish than something like the white dialed Mark XV, a personal favorite of mine. Still, for all intents and purposes, this is the current generation’s blank canvas Mark, the completely desaturated version of the pilot’s watch, and it achieves the same high contrast aesthetic of its predecessors. We get sharp black Arabic numerals and dial text against the silver-plated background, and easily legible black hashes at the minutes. The cardinal hours have small white, lume filled, rectangular markers outlined in black, a feature that has always added a bit of extra depth and visual interest to the so-called “albino” Marks. Another major benefit of the silver-plated Mark XX is that the white date wheel is a match for the dial, which is not the case in the other variants, and a point of contention for some.
As you’d expect, all of the specs from last year’s Mark XX releases are held over for the silver-plated version. The case is 40mm in stainless steel, and measures 10.8mm tall. The watch has 100 meters of water resistance, and can be purchased on either a matching bracelet or leather strap, both of which are equipped with IWC’s excellent EasX-CHANGE system for fast swaps between IWC straps and the bracelet. The IWC 32111 caliber powers the watch and offers an impressive five day power reserve.
The silver-plated Mark XX is available now through authorized IWC channels. The retail price is $5,250 with a leather strap, and $6,150 on a bracelet. IWC