Mystery watch revealed, sort of...

Jan 11, 2018,19:02 PM

I posted this pic of an IWC watch which I happened to discover. I thought it was lovely; it was the first IWC watch that I could see purchasing, owning, wearing. But from where did it come? And how? It was nowhere to be found on the IWC website. So began my investigations. I first called an IWC AD with whom I have a good relationship, only to be told he could find nothing about it from his IWC sales rep except it was not available for purchase. Not satisfied with that, I reached out to someone who was as high up in the chain as I figured I could access: the IWC boutique manager at the NYC Madison Ave shop.

I gave her the few details of the watch of which I was aware, namely the reference number, style/design, and official name. She had never heard of the watch, and she shared that the company had not distributed any material about the watch... she was clearly surprised to learn of this watch, obviously because she needs to know the product line first and foremost. Almost instantaneously, with the reference number, she was able to retrieve the watch picture and basic information on her IWC intranet. Yet there was no information regarding genesis, availability, where it was sold,... nothing. I asked her to write the home office and make inquiries about the watch, because I was most interested in it, would buy one if I could.

With her help, this is the story behind the watch, or part of it (as I have pieced it together), because, as I was told, part of the backstory is confidential.

The watch is reference number IW327008, "Pilot's Watch Mark XVIII Special Watch for Aviators/Andrew Thomas". Although I know it has a solid caseback, I have found no pictures of the caseback. It shares the brushed steel case, size and movement as the basic Mark XVIII (IW327001) and the hands of the Mark XVIII Tribute to Mark XI (IW327007), which encase IWC calibre 35111, a Sellita SW300-1 movement, except there is no date. Although this has not been confirmed to me, I highly suspect that the date wheel continues to spin under the dial, since I have no evidence that IWC has modified the movement and removed the date wheel. Notice that the reference number numerically follows that of the Mark XI tribute.

As for the dial, it is an explorer 3-6-9 type dial with 12 replaced by the pilot's style triangle flanked to two dots. Also, the arabic number font is the same as that found on the IWC 75th anniversary Portugieser hand wound 8 day steel watch (IW510205). I really liked that watch with sector-isn black dial and arabics at the poles, and had the opportunity to buy it, but passed, because I thought the 43mm case was too large and did not like the date cutting into the small seconds subdial.

All to say, this new watch, at 40mm, 10.8mm thick, 20mm lug width and nice brown calfskin Santoni strap had all the positives and none of negatives (No date!) of the aforementioned IWC pilot's and portugieser pieces. Sign me up! (Pics of all discussed watches attached for your reading/viewing pleasure).

But... who is Andrew Thomas and how did this watch come to be, but really not be, for me and basically anyone else?

(Dr.) Andrew Thomas (picture below) is head of medicinal Chemistry, Neuroscience, at Pharma Research and Early Development, Roche Innovation Center, in Basel, Switzerland. Born a Scotsman, he lives in Switzerland and is an avid supporter of both IWC and the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, founded in 1999 by Daimler AG, and of which IWC Schaffhausen is now one of the foundation's global partners. One can read about Laureus by doing a simple web-search. IWC supports Laureus in various ways, most publicly by producing annual limited edition watches honoring/supporting Laureus. Between 2006 and 2016, IWC has produced ten such watches which one can read about on the IWC website. The number of each of these watches has varied, but one collector... yes, Dr. Andrew Thomas, has acquired one of each and every one of these limited edition watches. So clearly, this is at least one reason that he has cultivated a special relationship with IWC. Which brings us back to our initial question... how and why did the IW327008 come to be, and who was lucky enough to get one?

First, the IW327008 is not one the Laureus limited edition watches. Rather (and this is where the confidential bits are needed to fill in the missing pieces), the IW327008 was made in a limited run of 27 watches, all specifically for Andrew Thomas (possibly designed for him with parts on hand [mark xi hands, mark xviii case, to his desire, i.e. no date with explorer type modified pilot's style dial in black, existing sw300-1 movement) (in which case the only new part needed to be manufactured was the dial). I was told that all 27 pieces were pre-sold prior to production, and were manufactured for a special party/event either for or hosted by (or both?) Andrew Thomas himself.

So unless you attended that party, at which I assume the attendees were all given these special watches, you (and I) have little chance of ever acquiring one, unless of course one of those lucky recipients some day decide to sell it on the secondary market rather than give it away to another friend. Or maybe Dr. Thomas will read this, think of me, and send me his own, or possibly number 27 if he only has given away 25 of the other 26 so far.... fingers crossed!

Alas, the watch in unobtainable. At least in this precise form. Maybe, if I am lucky, IWC will take the design cues from this wonderful little basic watch (no date!!!) (explorer-type dial) (maybe a different yet still stylish font?) and produce a Mark Remarque version just for me. And a few others, I'll be generous with my creation. Maybe.

I hope you have appreciated my sleuthing of this little IWC under the radar curiosity. 

  login to reply

Comments: view entire thread


Mark, thank you so much for the presentation of this watch. A very appealing one, indeed. Two observations.

 By: amanico : January 12th, 2018-00:22
38 mm would have been better in my opinion. The original Mark II was 35 mm big. This one, with a 38 mm case, would have been perfect. A bit like the TT Geophysic and its 38, 5 mm case. I didn't hear someone complained about the size of the TT Geophysic. T... 

Thanks for revealing this interesting back story to the watch :)

 By: KMII : January 12th, 2018-04:29
Made for fascinating reading indeed! And good luck finding one of the 27, keeping my fingers crossed!

One last thought...

 By: remarque : January 12th, 2018-07:10
As I have reflected on the limited facts at hand, one that has stood out is that "all pieces were pre-sold prior to production." The only way I can explain this is that the special event with Andrew Thomas, either hosted by or for/with him, was in fact a ... 

I caught wind of this watch on an IG post back in Nov 2017

 By: reintitan : January 13th, 2018-01:27
I emailed IWC about purchasing one and got this response: 12/3/17 Dear Mr. xxxxxx, Thank you for your interest in IWC Schaffhausen. In regards to your inquiry, the Pilot's Watch Mark XVIII edition "Andrew Thomas" IW327008 valued at 4,150 USD is unavailabl...  

That's clear. [nt]

 By: amanico : January 13th, 2018-01:47

Very nice story! The hunt is on then?

 By: eklektik : January 13th, 2018-11:46
I guess meeting with Andrew Thomas to trace the 27 watches would be an idea! I am not sure the font for numerals is the Portuguese one, the 9 is rather different, straighter/flatter and longer on the middle right. Keep us updated if you find one! I really... 

Regards from 17/27

 By: tonnyberteloot : January 13th, 2018-14:24
And I am happy to have the Portugieser 75th as well in my collection. Two beauties

Wow. Welcome! Would you share the caseback with me? Also, would you fill in the blanks about...

 By: remarque : January 13th, 2018-18:17
the special event for Dr Thomas, and who were fortunate enough to receive these little beauties from M. Georges Kern/Dr. Thomas? It makes me wonder: When manufacturers (not just IWC) are aware of what small tweaks to a regular production model will make t... 

Regards from 17/27 answer

 By: tonnyberteloot : January 13th, 2018-21:41
Hi Marc, will post the picture of the caseback later. I am at Sihh the whole week and I haven't the watch with me. The watch was created by some iwc collectors during a drink at a collectors meeting. The idea was to make a small run of these watches as a ... 

24x7.... actually!

 By: 8541 Vintage : January 14th, 2018-02:50
Tonny, indeed I am one of the fortunate to not only own one of these handsome timepieces but also to have been present at its “birth” - when the original idea and design of “the perfect watch for pilots” was born during the October 2015 IWC Collectors Mee... 

M 8541 Vintage: Thank you so much for your added history to this gem and yes much improved pilot's watch. Please see my second note to Tonny below.

 By: remarque : January 14th, 2018-05:42
Everything I said to him I extend to you as well. You and others and Dr. Thomas produced an amazing special piece. I just wish I could have one! Marc

Thank you Tonny. I do look forward to seeing the caseback. Maybe you will convey my feelings to your friends in high places at IWC during SIHH this week:

 By: remarque : January 14th, 2018-05:39
I believe my sentiments are felt by many, not just by me. I would love to be part of a conversation with others to see how your brainchild could be enjoyed by at least a few more, since your friends at this collectors' meeting worked wonders, moreso than ... 

Wonderful Story

 By: stevenokes : January 14th, 2018-07:08
I have always wanted a “simple”, easy to read Pilot like this. Struggle to find the “perfect “ version but, for me, I think this is it. As others have said, perhaps IWC will take the hint!

May the Force be With You!

 By: stevenokes : January 15th, 2018-10:01
(as someone once said in a film sometime). Best wishes, Steve

The caseback

 By: tonygomes : January 15th, 2018-03:23
Good research, however, although you got some of the facts right, some were quite wrong. This watch was supposed to have stayed under the RADAR, but it appears the cat is out of the bag. The actual and detailed story of its genesis will one day be written...  

Thank you Tony for sharing the caseback version 1. At the risk of repeating myself, especially with IWC principals gathered and accessible this week at SIHH, I hope my thread

 By: remarque : January 15th, 2018-08:35
initiates a conversation amongst those principals, as to why, whatever its genesis, the fantastic design of this pilot's watch, so much more appealing to me, and many others [based on the views of this thread] [and that is only amongst those who visit/rea... 

The Genesis

 By: tonygomes : January 15th, 2018-09:39
As the design progressed, in the back of a restaurant menu, in that auspicious evening of 8 October 2015 the Special Watch for Aviators was being conceived by a small group of collectors to be the perfectest IWC traditional pilot's watch, with form strict...  

Tony, marvelous added background. I highly commend your group for a wholly successful result. If you look at my original post from Dec 31, 2017,

 By: remarque : January 15th, 2018-12:38
I wrote that I though a cursive script International Watch Co would have been the cherry on top! Great minds think alike, as they say. I assumed the manual wind hacking central seconds movement was not (easily) accessible. Since the dial was created for t... 

Production and distribution

 By: tonygomes : January 16th, 2018-13:11
We could have designed the Special Watch For Aviators to be the perfectest pilot's watch since the Mark 11, but we did not have the means to turn the project into reality. After all, we were just a bunch of dedicated collectors, and in order to make it ha... 

I salute you. Pretty, pretty good turned out damn good given your stated and unstated trials/tribulations. Fwiw, my birthday is November 14. That would have been

 By: remarque : January 16th, 2018-13:50
a great b-day present for me. If you are in contact with Andrew, and he has one of those spare 27 laying around, give him my contact info...! Again, thank you so much for your history to complete my investigations... Best, Marc

To the best of my knowledge all 27 were sold...

 By: tonygomes : January 16th, 2018-17:55
...but I would not be surprised if/when one shows up in the secondary market, although that would be against the spirit of this project. However, in view of the interest the SWFA generated among IWC aficionados, I would not be surprised if IWC come up wit... 

I completely understand the spirit of the project. I do not exaggerate when I say that the SWFA appeals to me more than any of the watch unveilings

 By: remarque : January 16th, 2018-18:30
that I have seen published from the ongoing SIHH 2018 from any manufacture. Regrettably, based on your two year journey synopsis, it seems that IWC is reluctant and/or unwilling to produce the "ultimate" pilot's watch for anyone, and I can't fathom why th... 

A great page-turner watch story, great work!

 By: Joepny : January 17th, 2018-04:59
Now I would like to see our newest PPro members tonnyberteloot & 8541 vintage & tonygomes share more watches that they own and other stories they have. Hint, hint. Very cool! 😁 As a side note, this story makes IWC more compelling to me than any of their g... 

Thank you for sharing this fantastic discovery.

 By: kolosstt : January 17th, 2018-08:10
I saw Andrew Thomas on Instagram connected IWC posts. Never knew who he was. Now, there is light and even more so a great story about a truly attractive watch. Thank you very much for bringing it to my attention. Like it! Cheers Kolosstt

I highly recommend you get

 By: reintitan : January 20th, 2018-10:35
an IWC Mark 11 (RAF, BOAC, or civilian) or even better yet a JLC RAF Mark 11 or RAAF Mark XI to fill your pilot/navigator's/aviator's watch void. The dial and hands pattern of the Mark 11 specification watches are the standard since 1948 and have not been...  

Wow didn't know there.was such passion towards this watch.

 By: ecgo : May 6th, 2018-10:42
I was fortunate enough to be one of those 27 fine gentlemen owning this timepiece. Still loving it a lot. ...  

love both the no-dates !

 By: mahesh : May 10th, 2018-01:15
thanks for sharing...