After a long hiatus, our Cost of Entry series is back with a look at the IWC Mark XVIII. Just having celebrated their 150th Anniversary, IWC Replica watches have been some of the best pilot watches that are priced modestly compared to their more elaborate in-house “Big Pilot” watches that go well into the five-figures.
The IWC Mark XVIII is, to me, a mixed bag. It is a very refined version of a deeply flawed predecessor, making thoughtful adjustments to both dial and case design while shaving off about $1,000 from the previous price. It also comes on a Santoni leather strap that is actually up to snuff with what you’d expect when you reach out and touch a watch with the reputation that IWC carries. At the same time, is a modified Sellita SW300 what one would expect from a $4,000 watch? In short, yes.
The answer will frustrate people who justifiably can argue that a Stowa Flieger can provide the same design and an ETA movement that’s close to, or on par for a quarter of the price. The two similarly priced comps from Breitling and Bremont that I discuss later on also use very similar movements. So, let’s look more at what the IWC Replica Mark XVIII does right and does wrong. And then I’ll look at some pilot watches at similar, higher, and lower price points to fairly evaluate just what the competitive landscape is like. IWC watches like to dedicate each year to a different line of theirs. This year was about the aforementioned 150 Year Anniversary, while 2017 focused on the Da Vinci line, and 2016 was all about the Pilot Watch. Fortunately, 2016 presented us with not only the most affordable IWC watch but one that does what the brand is best at: pilot watches.
IWC WATCHES IN CONTEXT
There are a few watches from the brand that can generally be put in the same price category as the roughly $3,950 Replica IWC Mark XVIII. The dressy Portofino Automatic is the closest in price but the two are very far from each other in design and style. But, at $4,500 the 40mm wide and 9.3mm thick base Portofino deserves recognition. The base Ingenieur Automatic starts at $4,950 and both the Da Vinci Automatic and their dive watch, the Aquatimer automatic start at $5,400. All the pieces I just listed other than the Aquatimer run on the 35111 caliber which, again, is a modified Sellita SW300 movement. Also of note, the prices are for the watches on a leather strap and the steel bracelet adds about $1,000 to the price. That $1,000 premium for the IWC fake watches Mark XVIII on a steel bracelet gets you into exactly the price of the base Pilot’s Watch Chronograph (on a strap, of course).
IWC Mark XVII
The “spiritual successor” to the old IWC Mark XII from the 1990s (which itself was also harkening back to the Mark XI from the late 1940s), the Fake IWC Mark XVIII cleaned up the mess of its most recent predecessor. The late-stage Mark XII had gotten over-designed with an obnoxious altimeter style date window, and IWC deserves credit for understanding that a lot buyers wanted the old, tried and true pilot watch look which would mean restraint.
IWC Mark XVIII: Updates And Refinements
Rather than just making some dial changes and calling it a day, Fake IWC was considerate of proportionality and reduced the case size just 1mm down to 40mm. It’s a small difference, but when a case doesn’t match its dial, the difference is noticeable (take the Rolex Explorer I before they modified the hands in 2016). Case thickness is 11mm, by the way. When you flip the watch over, the steel caseback shows that plane insignia that enthusiasts know well.
Some other minor changes to the case include bringing back the numerals indicating 6 and 9 o’clock and the two dots flanking either side of the triangle at 12 o’clock. Pilot watches can be outrageously sized, and I’m fairly certain IWC perfect watches also released a 55mm wide “heritage” Big Pilot watch in 2016. While 40mm isn’t tiny, the inherent thin bezel that comes with pilot watches and the 50mm lug to lug width has the piece wear bigger than most other pieces this size.
Dial And Legibility
Legibility and ease of reading are the defining factors a pilot watch has to possess, and the IWC Mark XVIII excels. Admittedly, the white dial version with white hands suffers a bit when compared to the black dial model which allows the benefit of contrasting monochromatic colors with its white hands. In either case, I can attest that the double sided anti-reflective coating on the crystal is super effective and just leads me to be perplexed at watches that skimp on AR coating.
There is no shortage of options for those looking for a pilot watch like the replica IWC watches Mark XVIII and even more once you start to factor in models that are chronographs. For the sake of staying on track, we are going to stick to simple three-hand options here.
SAME PRICE AS IWC MARK XVIII
The Bremont Solo watch is named so because it’s alluding to the first flight a pilot flies solo. So, we know we are dealing with another entry level piece, albeit from a newer brand. That doesn’t mean Bremont doesn’t have a rich relationship with aviation (just check out their Martin Baker pieces). The Bremont Solo comes in a bigger case, measuring 43mm wide with a 49.5mm lug to lug length, and also a bit thicker at 13.5mm. The 36-hour power reserve BE-36AE movement is a modified ETA 2836 that Bremont does a good job at decorating, viewable through the exhibition caseback. So, a bigger and bulkier pilot watch from a newer but obviously well known brand, the Bremont Solo is priced basically the same as the IWC replicas for sale Mark XVIII at $3,995.
Breitling Navitimer 8 Automatic 41
The new Breitling Navitimer 8 Automatic 41 was a shock to me since it was a Navitimer that looked like anything but one. In any case, the simple pilot watch (inspired by on-board clocks) is a pretty strong competitor for the IWC. I think it’s going to come down to aesthetic style for anyone choosing between the two. In terms of size, it is actually conservative given Breitling’s reputation, at 41mm wide and 10.7mm thick. I don’t have the exact lug-to-lug measurement, but the lugs are pretty short and curved here.
One big difference is the addition of a bidirectional bezel, which the IWC best replica watches Mark XVIII certainly doesn’t have. The two do have a solid steel caseback in common, and the Breitling has their Breitling 17 movement in it which gets a 40-hour power reserve. I’d say the IWC, Bremont, and Breitling are all on the general playing field with movements and basically the other relevant metrics. Price is essentially the same as well, at $3,930.
I think the Zenith Pilot Type 20 Extra Special watches strike the balance between the fake IWC watches Mark XVIII and the much pricier ($12,900 to be specific) IWC Big Pilot’s watch. Offering an in-house Elite 679 Automatic movement in an either newly available 40mm or existing 45mm case available in steel or bronze, the Pilot Type 20 is actually a refined version of Zenith’s version of what the IWC Mark XVIII succeeds at. But, Zenith wasn’t terribly pleased with the previous model (introduced in 2014 and abandoned one year after) that used a Sellita-based movement and thus, this updated model was born. The Elite 679 Automatic has a 50-hour power reserve and operates at 28,800 bph.
The distinct onion crown, large legible hands and numerals, and engraved caseback all make for a handsome package that probably isn’t as “everyday” as the IWC rolex replica watches Mark XVIII. As I mentioned, it’s available in two case sizes with the 40mm wide case having a lug to lug length of just around 48mm and 12.95mm thick. The 45mm wide case has a 54mm lug to lug length and is thicker at 14.25mm. The 40mm model in steel or bronze is priced at $5,700 and the 45mm is priced at $6,700.
The pilot aesthetic and design that many IWC watches including the Mark XVIII have master can be had in several great options that cost much less. Sinn’s discontinued 657 was my favorite pilot watch the German brand made, but there are still some solid offerings like the 104 St Sa, which runs on a Sellita SW 220-1 movement with a 38-hour power reserve and comes in a 40mm wide case with a 47mm lug to lug length and 11.5mm thick case priced at around $1,600. Of course,replica watches their 856 (and new, larger 836 Pilot Watch) boasts anti-magnetic resistance of 80,000 A/m, with an automatic 38-hour power reserve Sellita SW300-1. It’s housed in a 40mm wide case with a 47.5mm lug to lug length and 11mm thick steel case, priced a little bit more around $1,800 on a strap and $2,200 on bracelet.
Bell & Ross V1-92
The Bell & Ross V1-92 also uses the SW300-1 movement, branded as the BR Cal. 302, though in a smaller case sized at 38.5mm wide and 11mm thick with a lug to lug of 45mm. It’s the pilot watch style with a dressier package at a price of $1,900. The Oris Big Crown Pointer Date watch uses a modified Sellita SW-200, fake rolex which they re-brand as the Oris 754 and has a 38-hour power reserve. The case size here is 40mm wide with a 48mm lug to lug length and 12.58mm thickness, and it’s priced at $1,600.
At the ~1,000 mark the Zodiac Jetomatic actually offers something different when it comes to the movement. Owned by the Fossil Group which has their own STP Manufacture, Zodiac uses their STP 1-13 movement which frankly is a lot like a similar ETA. However,best IWC replica it operates at 4Hz with a 44-hour power reserve, but also has a blued swan neck regulator that you can admire from the exhibition caseback of the 42mm wide watch. You can learn about this regulator more from Zen’s review of the watch here. It’s priced at $995 on strap and $1,050 on the bracelet.
If the aesthetic of the fake IWC watch Mark XVIII is more what you’re going for, then the Alpina Startimer Pilot Automatic is likely the best option at $995. It’s way bigger, though, measuring 44mm wide with a 52mm lug to lug. Of course, the AL-525 movement is a modified Sellita SW200 movement.