Hodinkee's latest collaboration with a major watchmaker could be its most appealing
- After creating limited-edition watches with Omega, Zenith, and TAG Heuer, among others, Hodinkee has partnered with IWC Schaffhausen.
- Hodinkee and IWC have updated a classic pilot's watch.
- The piece will be produced in 500 examples and sell for $6,400.
Over the past few years, Hodinkee has racked up some impressive limited-edition collaborations with major watchmakers.
My personal favorites have been two affordable watches with Swatch, but the website and e-commerce outfit has also worked with names such as Zenith, Omega, Laurent Ferrier, and TAG Heuer. The most recent partnership was with French luxury brand Hermès, and it was extremely cool (I finally got to check out the watch in person, and I was blown away by its class and beauty).But Hodinkee, based in New York and founded by vintage-watch authority Ben Clymer a decade ago, isn't slowing down. And its latest collaboration could be one of its most accessible.
It's the Pilot's Watch Edition Mark XVIII Edition "Hodinkee," from the company and IWC Schaffhausen, a Swiss legend that was started by an American and that can trace its legacy back to the 19th century. International Watch Company is well-known for its pilot's watches - the Big Pilot was the piece to own for a while - but its Portugieser, Portofino and Ingenieur are also coveted.
A legendary pilot's watch
The brand's entry-level watch is currently the Mark XVIII, and it retails for a pretty reasonable $4,150 in stainless steel on a leather strap. For many collectors, it's their first "good" watch and a taste of IWC's core DNA: tool watches designed to work in aircraft cockpits. And of course, the name "Mark XVIII" implies some history - and fewer roman numerals.
The Hodinkee limited-edition "dates back to the clean lines and restrained design of the ultimate post-war pilot's watch - the Mark 11 from 1948," the company said in a statement. "Enthusiasts and collectors alike love the Mark 11 for its purity and tough-as-nails demeanor."The new watch will be produced in 500 examples, priced at $6,400 and sold through Hodinkee's online shop and IWC. The design is a nod to the past in several ways, but the piece has also been updated for 21st-century enthusiasts. The 39-millimeter case is made from ceratanium, a sort of ceramic-titanium combo that's both light and strong. According to Hodinkee, the black case recalls the "reference 3705 Fliegerchronograph" from 1994, which had a black ceramic case.
A new look, with new materials
That's a cool watch, and the Mark XVIII Hodinkee evokes it while offering a new look: a black no-date face, a textured dark-green calfskin strap, and an automatic IWC 35100 movement with a 42-hour power reserve driving the three-hand timekeeping. The vibe is casual and military-inspired, but the Mark XVIII Hodinkee could be dressed up just short of accompanying a suit and tie.
The timepiece went on sale today, and each example is numbered, delivered in a presentation box, and has a subtle IWC/Hodinkee engraving on the caseback.
In a world where anybody intrigued by luxury watches runs into Rolex, Cartier, Omega, and perhaps Patek Philippe, the Richemont-owned IWC has the status of a special club. It isn't fair to beat up on Rolex, because the company produces remarkable watches that are worth the sometimes elevated prices. But IWC has always been something of a thinking person's alternative, a more purposeful Jaeger-LeCoultre (also a Richemont brand). Fans will be thrilled by the Hodinkee collaboration.