By Hallie Engel
IWC Schaffhausen celebrates the 70th birthday of the beloved novella The Little Prince with the launch of two limited special editions: the Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar Edition Le Petit Prince and the Pilot’s Watch Mark XVII Edition Le Petit Prince.
With these timepieces, the Swiss watch manufacturer pays tribute to one of the best-selling books in literary history, written by legendary writer, pilot and adventurer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. The Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar Edition Le Petit Prince fuses elegance and mechanical craftsmanship and is packed with technical highlights, including the impressive IWCmanufactured 51613 calibre with Pellaton winding and a 7-day power reserve.
The latter’s display in the counter at 3 o’clock is a constant reminder of the movement’s high efficiency. It generates enough energy to fuel a wealth of complications, such as the perpetual calendar, with its four-digit year display, as well as displays for the date, day and month. All displays are easily adjusted via the crown and advance automatically. The perpetual calendar will not require intervention by a watchmaker until 2100, breaking with the conventional 4-year cycle. The midnight blue dial contrasts the bold cockpit design with the more understated displays of the perpetual calendar.
The Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar Edition Le Petit Prince is the first of IWC’s Big Pilot’s Watches to feature the classic moon phase display. Here, the moon is further ornamented by the Little Prince, who gazes at the starry sky from his own tiny planet. The figure is derived from the famous original drawing by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry that graces the front cover of his best-known work. The 18-carat gold medallion on the rotor also features the Little Prince, and can be admired on the reverse side of the watch through the sapphire-glass back.
The original title of the first edition, namely LE PETIT PRINCE, is engraved on the winding rotor. The special edition in red gold is limited to 270 watches. Also included with the watch is a high-class edition featuring two rarities produced exclusively for IWC: first, a reproduction of the original first editionin English entitled The Little Prince and a reprint of the original handwritten manuscript in French, Le Petit Prince.
In both form and function, the Pilot’s Watch Mark XVII Edition Le Petit Prince closely follows the classic Pilot’s Watches from IWC Schaffhausen in terms of precision, reliability and authentic cockpit-style design. Like cockpit instrumentation, the midnight blue dial is reduced to essentials, and legibility is a top priority. Additionally, IWC’s designers have modified the date window, making it look more like a board instrument, with the vertically arranged numerals resembling an altimeter. The current date is indicated by a triangle and the counterpoise takes the form of a small star at the rear end of the seconds hand, in another reference to the book.
The watch, which is water-resistant to 6 bar, is powered by an automatic 30110-calibre movement and has a 42-hour power reserve. A soft iron inner case protects against magnetic fields and a front glass secured against sudden drops in pressure, the Mark XVII takes up a tradition established by its historical forebear, the legendary Mark 11 of the 1940s. The case back is decorated with an engraving that shows the Little Prince with his fluttering scarf standing on a tiny asteroid. The Pilot’s Watch Mark XVII Edition Le Petit Prince in stainless steel is limited to 1,000 watches.
Part of the proceeds from sales of the special editions Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar Edition Le Petit Prince and the Pilot’s Watch Mark XVII Edition Le Petit Prince will go the Antoine de Saint-Exupéry Youth Foundation, fighting illiteracy around the world.
IWC will also auction a Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar Edition at Sotheby’s Geneva on November 12 to benefit the foundation.