Perhaps more than any other watch in history, the Mk. 11 truly embodies what it means to be a “tool watch.” Manufactured by International Watch Company and Jaeger-LeCoultre based on specifications provided by the British Ministry of Defense (MoD), the Mk. 11 was designed from the ground up with functionality and utility at the forefront. The result? A quintessential pilot’s watch, and one that would inspire countless designs years after its humble beginning in 1949. Today, we take a closer look at this historic piece.
In the early 1940s, the MoD created a set of specifications for watches to be issued to military personnel. 12 companies were awarded contracts: Buren, Cyma, Eterna, Grana, JLC, Lemania, IWC, Omega, Record, Timor, Vertex, and Longines. The resulting watches–highly valued collector’s pieces in their own right–would eventually be called the “Dirty Dozen,” and to a lesser extent the Mk. X watches.
Though the watches issued under the Dirty Dozen were approved for military use, their lower level accuracy proved to be too unreliable for aviation. So, sometime in 1946 or ’47, the MoD decided on a new navigator’s watch standard—6B/346, also known as the Mk. XI/Mk. 11.