The legendary IWC Mark XI aviator's watch was a “cult watch”. Produced from 1948 until the early eighties, the Mark XI was never available to the public. Sensing an opportunity in the 1990s, IWC introduced a civilian version in 1993, the Mark XII. Over the following decades, IWC produced the Mark XV, larger Mark XVI, 41 mm Mark XVII, and this Mark XVIII.
Introduced at SIHH in 2016, the Mark XVIII quickly followed the controversial Mark XVII, then just 4 years old. The most notable feature of the Mark XVIII was the elimination of the large “triple date” window of the Mark XVII. The case was also reduced in size slightly to 40 mm, and the numerals 6 and 9 are returned to the dial as on the Mark XV. The overall effect is a classic-looking watch, though the large case means the date has migrated somewhat into the dial. The basic Mark XVIII is available with a black or silver dial.
The Mark XVIII has appeared in many more versions than any previous model, as the IWC Pilot's Watch range has expanded. Special versions with larger and smaller cases are offered, some with no date window at all. The first “Top Gun” model in the classic “Mark” series appeared at SIHH in 2016, the 41 mm ceramic-cased Pilot's Watch Mark XVIII Top Gun Miramar. Beginning in 2017, IWC began updating most Mark XVIII models to use the Sellita-derived IWC 35110 or 35111 movement. All 40 mm models are Ref. IW3270, while 41 mm and 39 mm examples are Ref. IW3247 and IW3248, respectively.
At the same time the Mark XVIII was introduced, IWC also unveiled the new smaller Pilot's Watch 36. A successor to the Pilot's Watch Midsize, the Pilot's Watch 36 nevertheless featured new dial styling. In 2018, that line was trimmed down and a new model more closely resembling the Mark XVIII added. At SIHH 2019, IWC introduced a new IWC Pilot's Watch Spitfire collection. They had previously used this term on variations of the Mark XV-XVII line, along with other models. Although based on the 39 mm Mark XVIII, the Spitfire is a new line entirely, with an in-house movement and chronograph model.
Many special versions of the Mark XVIII were produced, including with a smaller 39 mm case and no date as well as a larger 41 mm ceramic/titanium case.