The “IWC Mark XII” was the first step towards making this traditionally military aviation watch model into a civilian wristwatch, although the process really materialized with the edition of the “Mark XV”. Still, the first timepiece to appeal beyond the military would become iconic in its own right and further fuel interest for this IWC “Mark Series” model line that has been in production since 1936.
The “Mark XII” came along in 1993 and maintained the 36mm case seen on the Mark XI, but featured a date window and introduced the first automatic movement to this model line. The movement they choose was a Jaeger-LeCoultre caliber 889/2 that served as a bases to the IWC caliber 884/2. So, the “Mark XII” uses the IWC caliber 884/2 movement, which is an IWC version of the Jaeger-LeCoultre caliber 889/2 with an economy finish. This highly-acclaimed movement consists of 36 jewels and runs at 28,800 beats per hour, with up to 38 hours of power reserve.
IWC knew they had a great watch in the “Mark XII” because it followed in the footsteps of previous models, but it became even more special due to using this Jaeger-LeCoultre movement. There is even a running comment on this subject, where the Mark XII movement is seen as a “wild child”. For it seems it can work very well, but there have also been issues with some of these manufactured time pieces, with technicians claiming it can be difficult to oil the barrel elevating service costs. While others just gripe that the movement would better suit a dress watch, instead of a sports watch which is more physically demanding when in use.
A key factor to the collectible status of the “Mark XII” in particular has to do with the various versions that were issued of this watch. One early example was the not “limited edition”, but rare edition of a “Mark XII” that was released in the Japanese market lacking the “Mark XII” insignia on its dial. Just like the Asian airline company “Cathay Pacific” released 1000 pieces in stainless steel that were identical to the regular version. But, this “Mark XII” differed from others by having an inscription on its caseback with the number of limitation on it, set by the airlines numbered request.
There are more limited versions of the “Mark XII” that IWC successfully launched as true limited editions of this watch in the Italian market. They produced 100 pieces in titanium with a dark blue dial and with half of them displaying the insignia “EF” while the other half read “GL”. The “GL” version also had a date display, but although the “EF” version didn’t, the crown still has the click position to adjust the non-existent date.
But, the rarest special editions were manufactured for Denmark and Switzerland. A Danish Finance Magazine had 25 watches made that can be identified by their red second hand and some also came mounted to a red crocodile strap. They even issued a certificate sealed with a red wax similar to the one found on the glass vial that contained the century slide of the Da Vinci.
Another special version of the “Mark XII” was produced for the acrobatic team of the Swiss Air Force, called the “Patrouille Suisse”. They were issued 30 watches (one for each year the acrobatic team had existed up till then) that exhibited a red logo consisting of 3 airplanes including the Swiss Red Cross. The pilots had a very special time that year by stepping into newer, faster planes, named “Tigers”; besides these IWC watches to accompany them towards new heights.
And last but not least is the most colorful version of the “IWC Mark XII”. When the automobile company Saab released their Cabriolet model, 900 SE, in 1997. They had 210 special versions of the “Mark XII” be produced with aesthetic features similar to their car. So, they swapped the JLC movement and gave it a IWC 37552 caliber and released the watch mounted to a yellow strap, which had the watch dubbed as the ”Mellow Yellow”. The black dial gave way to a grey dial and they actually swapped the “Mark XII” insignia with “Saab – automatic” and traded the traditional triangle located at the 12 o’clock position for the 12 Arabic numeral.
IWC Mark XII
The “Mark XII” had a relatively short life-span, running from 1993 to 1999, means they only prevailed for 6 years. But, its simple design concept was so appreciated by consumers with and without a military background. That the market was gifted with at least 7 special editions of this IWC Mark version. The model line still runs to this day with the latest installment being the “Mark XVII”, which still holds many of the features that rendered the “Mark XII” so iconic.
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