One of the most fabled watches IWC has ever made is the Mark IX. It certainly is among the rarest models; almost never found anywhere, it sells for exhorbitant sums. It is a beautiful watch. Among all the IWC models in my collection, it commands a place of honor --and it took me years of searching to find.
But --could it not be a real military watch?
Heresy, you say? Consider the following:
1. Mine, which is clearly authentic, was sold to a commercial retailer in Eastern Europe shortly before WWII --and was not military issue. I have seen others with the same pedigree, rather than a first sale to the U.K. (which developed the Mark designation system of military watch specifications).
2. I also obtained an extract from the archives on mine, which shows that it is not recorded in the ledgers as a "Mark IX" but rather as a "steel men's wristwatch" (and of course IWC didn't know back then about the Mark X or XI...)
3. I have never seen a Mark IX with bona fide military markings.
4. IWC is usually careful in its wording and most often describes the Mark IX as its first "flight watch", rather than using a "military watch" terminology.
5.. Best of all, the above image (upper left) is from an IWC catalog probably in the late 1930s --note that a watch looking just like a Mark IX is available for sale (that is to civilians, and not necessarily under contract sale to a military).
Finally, I contacted a friend, Ziggy Wesolowski, author of the authoritative book on British military timepieces. I don't think Ziggy would mind me quoting what he wrote:
I do not know of any MkIX's that found their way into military service. I'm also one of those people that always considered that mark to be commercial watch, despite it's obvious aviation style. It must be remembered that at the time the MarkIX was being produced, IWC was competing with a plethora of similar styled watches being offered by such rivals as; Longines, Omega, Zenith, Movado and Brietling... as well as a multitude of lesser known makes.
Interestingly however, some of the other manufacturers offerings of the 'aviation style' watches, were adopted for military service (these were the slightly larger Longines and Zenith's) - Most however, if used by the military, would have been private purchase pieces.
...Anyway, I can not discount the fact that an IWC MkIX was issued at some point, to some or other military authority.
What else can I say? I suggest that the IWC Mark IX is a fine watch, a great watch, an extraordinarily rare watch and by far the most collectible of the Marks. But is it a real military watch? I suspect not --unless a pilot's private purchase qualifies.
(Author's note --I wrote the above for the Forum at iwc.ch. Because many of you might be interested, I thought it was worth repeating here. However, I ask that it not be reporduced sonce IWC technically retains the copyright. Thanks --and I hope it stimulates some good discussion.)
Posted on Dec 20, 2001, 3:15 PM from IP address 126.96.36.199