Stories / August 2019

Hamilton's Khaki Pilot Pioneer Mechanical

On the introduction of the Khaki Pilot Pioneer Mechanical, The Rake and Revolution are proud to be the exclusive online retailers for a limited period only.

If you think about it, Blighty, Britannia or England — otherwise known as the United Kingdom, a name that dates back to the 1707 Acts of Union that declared the kingdoms of England and Scotland united into one entity known as Great Britain — is renowned for three things.

The first is the unwavering stiff upper lip, no matter what the seemingly unsurmountable odds, heroically displayed during the horrors of Reichsmarschall Hermann Goring’s Blitz on London. The second is the genuinely astonishing genetic ability to create many of history’s hottest women from Jane Birkin to Jane Seymour to Jacqueline Bisset to Jean Shrimpton to Kiera Knightley to Kate Moss, the latter who, despite her unremitting penchant of sybaritism, is still, well really, really hot; in a charmingly sexy, disastrous way.  The third is of course the most revered, documented and rich history with military timepieces.

1940s — The Dozen 

The most famous of England’s military watches include the Dirty Dozen, the Mark 11 Pilot’s Watch, the legendary Rolex MilSub and the W10 Army watch. The Dirty Dozen refers to the 12 contractors that supplied the British Army with functional, highly robust, legible and luminous tool watches that were distributed to its troops during the Second World War.

These brands were — in no particular order — Vertex, Timor, Lemania, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Cyma, Buren, Eterna, Record, Grana, IWC, Longines and Omega. Collectively they forged the genetic blueprint of what a military watch should be. A stealthy and strong brushed steel case, a matt black dial featuring large luminous Arabic numerals, completed by additional luminous indexes around the cardinal points of the dial. And a hacking seconds hand at 6 o’clock. And, for the large part, long easy-to-read baton-shaped hands.

1948 — The IWC Mark 11

The legend of the Mark 11 began in the mid ’40s when the British Ministry of Defence sent out a tender for the creation of a watch for its pilots. The requirements of the watch were as follows: it had to have a black iron dial marked with full Arabic numerals, from 1 to 12, and the dial had to be “luminized,” at the four cardinal indices.

It had to have a 12-ligne movement, capable of -4/+4 accuracy, with hacking. It had to be waterproof to 20 feet. It have a Faraday/anti-magnetic cage, hence the iron dial. Finally, its crystal had to be retained by a screw, to prevent detachment during decompression.

Watch brands IWC and Jaeger-LeCoultre both answered the call though eventually JLC would be dropped as a supplier because the brand did not incorporate a shock absorption system into its movement. The result was the IWC Mark 11 watch, which was issued to various branches of the RAF from 1949. The movement was the Caliber 89.

IWC Mark 11.

All watches had to be regulated at the Greenwich observatory and had to be retested there every year. In 1952 the dial was endowed with its now iconic diamond shaped index at 12 o’clock. IWC was supplier to the RAF with their Mark 11 from 1949 all the way to 1981 and was the sole supplier from the early ‘60s onward.

Contributor

Wei Koh

The Rake's Founder & Editorial Director.

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