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jasmineep

Buying a Mark XVII

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Hi All

I'm a relatively new convert to the world of fine watches. I received my Tissot PR50 for my fourteen birthday and it gave me nearly six years of perfect service before it was stolen around three weeks ago. Although I miss it, this has given me the opportunity to start properly considering my first mechanical watch purchase.

After having researched and refined my choices over the past few months, I've pretty much settled on an IWC Mark XVII.I've got a weakness for pilots watches, but having a 6 1/4 inch wrist the (relatively) small case diameter is appealing. I've read good things about the 30100 movement and I like that it's not too flashy. I'm naturally rather scruffy and unkempt, so owning a watch as a fashion piece does nothing for my appearance whatsoever. I'm not concerned what my watch says about me. I'm a lover of all things mechanical, so reliability and intricacy fascinate me, and I want a watch that will satisfy both of those requirements I have a couple of questions before I start saving in earnest:

1. Since I use sticks to get around (and will do so for the rest of my life), will the watch be able to withstand the regular impacts of crutch use without shortening its lifespan?

2. Will the watch constantly slide down my wrist as I walk (given the small diameter of my arm)?

3. Should I get leather or metal for the strap?

4. (I'll probably be shot down for asking this) will I regret buying a watch without a movement unique to IWC? Is the Mark XVII just a pretty face over a boring movement, or is it a special watch in it's own right?

Thanks very much. I'm not a man of means, and it's not my intention in life to make huge amounts of money. I want a watch which will satisfy me long term and make me smile when I look at it. It's not a purchase I'm making lightly at all.

I HAVE considered a number of other watches and have decided against Breitling and Bremont. Nothing to do with the brands themselves. The equivalent watches just didn't appeal to me as much.

Just out of interest, does IWC still have any genuine connection with military aviation at all? Or are they just using their past for marketing purposes?

PS: I desperately wanted to fly fighters in the RAAF growing up, so I have a feeling it's got to be a pilot's watch.

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You should't have any issues with your sticks and damage to the watch, it's such a minor impact I wouldn't worry about it affecting any watch. Since you have relatively small wrists, have you considered an older Mark? Not sure if you are 100% committed to buying new, but older versions have smaller cases. I have no idea what connection IWC still has with the military, but if you love the looks just buy it, no denying that even if they don't now there was a point in time where they did which is cool enough

 

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I think the old ones were 39mm, but I'd prefer to buy new unless the 41mm is impractically large. Part of the experience of buying a watch is that it is my watch, not one belonging to someone else who no longer wanted it. I'm willing to pay the price difference for it (and we pay through the nose for luxury goods over here)

 

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You have certainly done your homework. I have the same size wrist and had an IWC pilot watch (39mm Spitfire UTC) for about 6 years before selling it (which I sometimes regret). I will try to answer your questions.

1. I'm sure the watch can withstand crutch use, as the movement has a shock absorber system. The only thing I would perhaps consider is using a stronger spring bar (assuming you go strap instead of bracelet), as I would be concerned about extra wrist pressure, though this may not be an issue.

2. This of course depends on whether you go strap or bracelet and how tight you wear your watch. The bracelet will add quite a bit of weight and will slide down more if not worn tightly, which could be annoying.

3. Though I much prefer straps, particularly on pilot watches, IWC makes some of the best bracelets in the business. But the bracelet will add significantly to the price and weight of the watch. Plus with straps you can mix and match and give the watch different looks. I have over a dozen straps of all varieties and colors and love switching them up.

4. The manufacture vs. ETA movement is always a tough call. The ETA 2892-A2 is an excellent workhorse that incorporates some features that IWC originally designed into the movement. For this type of watch I would have no problem with it. My grail watch is the Ingenieur 3239 which uses the same movement and is even more expensive (which is why I don't have it yet). Keep in mind that servicing costs can be very high with Richemont, but any competent watchmaker can service the 2892. On the other hand, there is an undeniable allure to a manufacture movement, notwithstanding the higher acquisition and service costs. Unfortunately, IWC does not make a movement small enough to fit into a case that our wrist size can handle. That will change over the next couple of years, as IWC recently announced some new movements, one of which is smaller caliber (42110) designed for its entry-level watches.

 

I understand and appreciate your desire to buy new, but I echo the sentiment of Toothbras regarding an older Mark version, particularly the 39mm Mark XVI. If you can find a NOS (new old stock) Mark XVI, I think you should get it. Or even a used one in mint shape. The Mark XVII is a great watch, but I like the XVI better in terms of size and design. My 6.25 wrist handles the 41mm XVII fine, but my wrist is flat, and even so the 41mm is really pushing it for me. If your wrist is more round, the size could be an issue. You really need to try it on for size.

Regarding IWC and the military, I am unaware of any current official tie. Of course, IWC's work with the St. Exupery foundation is admirable and an interesting pilot watch connection. And as one of the handful of companies that supplied the original pilot watches to the Luftwaffe, the historic military connection is authentic.

Finally, you mentioned that you want this to be a long-term watch. Perhaps the red triangle and the triple date window will get tiresome after a while. Whereas I doubt the simple and classic look of the Mark XVI will ever get old. To me that watch is like a perfectly fitting navy blue blazer--it will never be out of style. Just something to think about.

 

Good luck with your decision, and I hope it works out.

 

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My responses below

Check the size of the Pilot. Whilst it is 41mm it wears bigger becuase it is a long watch. The lugs sit at the very end of my wrists and my wrists are slightly bigger than yours. Just make sure you are happy with the fit. It was okay for me but I wouldn't go any bigger than the Mk17.

 

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Okay, well. This may be a question for another thread, but can anyone think of anywhere that would stock NOS watches in Sydney? I don't think we have quite the variety of second hand timepieces that those in Europe, the UK or US do.

I'm a little hesitant to go in and try on a new one just now. I'm not sure how the jewelers will respond to someone walking, in trying on a watch, saying 'see you in two years' and walking out again.

 

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Trying one out in a shop is what they are there for. Don't play your cards that you're after NOS but go and look.

Freedman (Sydney vintage watches) in strand arcade are really good to deal with and are my pick of second hand dealers in Sydney. Nick Hacko (in castlereagh at) has decent quality stock. He can be a bit hit and miss to deal with though, trustworthy but has a "different" approach to custmoer service (and don't bother asking for a discount).

By the way if you want a Mk16 you will have to get in quick - they get snapped up quickly.

Go go and try a Mk17 on as well. If you're travelling. OS anytime soon some places do GST back in store and if you know how to bargain you will be surprised with the prices and discount. I've price matched watches internationally - a lot - and even when our dollar was above parity with the U.S. no one could come close to the prices I got.

 

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Since this is my first proper watch, I'd very much like to buy it new. But if and when I decide to expand my collection, it may be prudent for me to buy second hand (especially since older watches often have smaller faces). Thanks for the recommendations, both of those have got some rather wonderful pieces on sale. I'll keep my eyes on their stock lists over the coming period, just in case.

DHTJR, do you have a photo of your favourite strap combination?

 

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You can also look at Brisbane vintage watches (sister company to sydney) and also the watch gallery (in Melbourne and armadale). Places I'd trust getting watches from. Nick Hacko seems to get more Mk16's that SVw but he's had a bit of a change in his outlook now that he is making his own watches

 

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"I'm a little hesitant to go in and try on a new one just now. I'm not sure how the jewelers will respond to someone walking, in trying on a watch, saying 'see you in two years' and walking out again."

Don't be shy about trying on any watch you want in any watch store. I do it frequently, and if a salesperson gets annoyed and sanctimonious, I find it laughable and even entertaining. I'm amused how some staff at luxury watch retailers behave as if they are doing me a favor by showing me their precious timepieces and blathering on as if the watch were a fragment of the true cross or some other religious relic. But most sales staff are friendly and happy to show the watches. One gal even brought out a Lange Doublesplit from the store safe just so I could stare at the movement for a few minutes, knowing full well I would not be buying the watch in my lifetime.

 

You asked about my favorite strap combos. Can't say I have a favorite, as they are all rather different. Due to my small wrist, I usually order custom straps for a better fit. I currently have a Sinn 104 and a Stowa Ikarus on the way, both of which lend themselves to a variety of strap combos. I have black and brown leather and suede, burgundy ostrich leg, yellow toad, black rubber, several zulus in solid colors, a nice one-piece shell cordovan from Hodinkee, a striped velcro, and a couple patterned waxed cotton zulus from Suigeneric that I just got. I will say that the stock Mark 17 strap is very nice; if it doesn't fit your wrist, IWC may make it in a shorter length. Tons of custom strap makers out there, but since you are in Sydney, definitely check Bas & Lokes; fantastic straps. Here is a link to an older thread with some amateur photos of some of my straps:

Sinn 104 - Looking like a must have for me.

Edit: FYI, chrono24 has several mint Mark 16's and one unworn.

 

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