Hi, just acquired a SAAF issue MarkXI and am wondering if there is any resource/expert that can provide more information about the history of these Mk XI's as well as their collectability.
Congratulations on this stunning watch.
If the numbers are matching with the SAAF database, you have a rare piece and a very lucky survivor, as there was wanton destruction on SAAF Mark 11 during the 1990s.
Here follows some history of IWC Mark Xl as used (and destroyed) by the SAAF.
There is another website, but I cannot find it…..It may have closed.
Here is a website that I have found very useful, but it won't open - unless you update or download FLASH……
Hard to find
It is very hard to track solid information about these watches. Online sources report that the remaining Lemania's and IWC's were sold off to the SAAF personnel in the 1990's (for 35 South African Rand each, which is about 5 euro's). Many of them were then traded in for new digital Seiko's. SAAF found out about this and just destroyed all remaining examples in storage and the ones returned by pilots thereafter. Only a few Lemania SAAF 5012 watches seem to have survived. I tried to check these facts, but SAAF never responded while Lemania (Breguet) couldn't find proper information about the watch. According to a helpful specialist working at Breguet, 'the company can't provide any information about their military watches', however 'the SAAF-watches must have been produced whilst under the Breguet-flag'. The employee kindly adds in his reply 'that there is enough information about these watches available online'. Jeff Stein's HEUER-website OnTheDash adds interesting information. _ His article on a very similar looking chronograph learns that the watch has been issued to several military units and provide interesting images of the watch, inside and outside, although our SAAF-version shows some optical differences._
Here is a sort of summary of Mark 11 Quantities
"The Mk 11 was introduced into the
Royal Air Force (RAF) and the British
Fleet Air Arm in November 1949, and into
the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) in
August 1950. The RAF bought watches
from both the INTERNATIONAL WATCH
COMPANY (IWC) and JAEGER LECOULTRE
(JLC). But after having bought about
2,000 from JLC in 1949 the RAF decided
to buy only IWC from 1949 to 1953, when
the last RAF orders were placed, totaling
at least 7,400 IWC watches. The RAAF
initially bought its Mk 11s from JLC; 420
in 1950 and 600 in 1953. It then changed to
IWC in 1957, buying another 600.
Little is known about the number of
watches shipped to Air Forces of other
Commonwealth countries like the Royal
New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) and
South African Air Force (SAAF).
Likewise the number of watches bought by
civilian airlines is unknown
A comparison with the figures from the
files of both JLC and IWC is enlightening.
Four batches of JLC Mk 11 (Ref 161) have
been identified totaling 2,950, with 2920
recorded as sold (against 3020 above).
This leaves only the movement numbers
of the very first batch of 100 watches as yet
unidentified. Research in the files of IWC
has been somewhat more difficult, but
more than 8,000 individual movement
numbers have been identified as military
issue Mk 11. Taking into account, that
RNZAF, SAAF and BOAC purchased Mk
11 as well, and the RAF had a derivative
of the Mk 11, the 10AF/807, as a rough
estimate some 600 additional movement
numbers await confirmation in IWC
records as Mk 11."
'Man is Not Lost' - an Account of the
Mk 11 Navigational Wristwatch
Matthias Christian, Thomas Koenig and Greg Steer
it appears your watch is a mix of different parts (what is with SAAF Mk. 11 not neccessarily implauslible). As the movement number shows, the movement is from about 1952, so too early for an 1961 issue. The dial is from 1967 or later and was used in this way on SAAF watches, but as well on civilian watches.
All parts are old. The dial and the movement could have been swapped into this case by SAAF watchmakers or after decommissioning by civilian dealers/watchmakers. It is not possible to verify or falsify one of these alternatives. The back is o.k. for a 1961 SAAF Mk. 11 as are the markings. However, the cone on the inner back has been repaired in the typical SAAF way, i.e. without too much care.
Enjoy your watch!