IWC has already dedicated three special editions of its pilot’s watches to the pilot and author Antoine de Saint Exupéry and his novels on the theme of aviation. The fourth celebrates his collected works. Naturally, this can only be a Big Pilot’s Watch. Once again in the style of the times in which the great Saint Exupéry lived.
With the fourth special Antoine de Saint Exupéry edition, the collection of pilot’s watches with which IWC acknowledges the passionate pilot and great humanist Antoine de Saint Exupéry is now complete.
In a break from tradition, no particular novel on the theme of aviation will provide the frame of reference for the limited edition. Rather, it is the literary life’s work of the author, who came into the world on 29 June 1900 in Lyon and was shot down on a military reconnaissance mission over southern France and crashed into the sea at the age of 44.
The year of his birth, 1900, also determines the size of the final limited edition on this occasion, complete with the initial “A.” on the tobacco brown dial: A for Antoine. Of course, only the largest pilot’s watch from Schaffhausen, the Big Pilot, an exceptionally popular model among connoisseurs, can mark such a high point. It recognizes an extraordinary life’s work, which transcends the thrilling and pensive accounts of the heroism of the pioneering age of aviation.
“The Little Prince”, for example, a classic of world literature (original title: “Le Petit Prince”), is still being translated into other languages. The total is already more than one hundred and eighty. The Pilot’s Watch Chrono-Automatic in 2006 was the first in the series of special editions from IWC in honour of Antoine de Saint Exupéry.
With its limited edition of 1,931 watches, it alluded to the novel “Vol de Nuit” (Night Flight), published in 1931. It was followed in 2007 by the Pilot’s Watch Automatic, which took the novel “Courrier Sud” (Southern Mail), published in 1929, as the theme for the limited special edition of 1929 watches.
In 2008, the Pilot’s Watch UTC evoked the work “Terre des Hommes” (Wind, Sand and Stars), which had appeared in 1939 – accordingly, there were 1,939 watches in total in stainless steel, gold and the “not-for-sale” example in platinum, which was auctioned at the time for a good cause.
The beneficiary of the auction proceeds is selected in association with the Société Civile pour l’OEuvre et la Mémoire d’Antoine de Saint Exupéry in memory of the author.
A similar approach will be adopted with the fourth special edition:1,149 watches in stainless steel, 500 in rose gold, 250 in white gold and the single “not for- sale” model in platinum, which once again will be auctioned to the highest bidder – making 1,900 watches in all, an analogy to the year of the flying poet’ birth.
IWC Schaffhausen had already made arrangements in 2006, in the context of a long-term association with the heirs and custodians of the literary legacy of Saint Exupéry, for the most famous Frenchman after Napoleon to be assured a special place with a permanent exhibition in the Le Bourget Air and Space Museum near Paris. Here, since 2006, the extensive achievements of the pilot, author, inventor and artist have been displayed in a multimedia presentation alongside exhibits of his papers, personal items and a few pieces of wreckage recovered from his crashed aircraft.
The biography of Saint Exupéry is closely linked with the early days and the ascent of modern aviation. As a military pilot, airmail pilot and aeronautical adventurer, he followed his own literary creed: “You must first learn to see and then write.” His lofty vantage point and his observation post was the pilot’s seat.
From here, having witnessed cruelty beyond measure beneath him as a military pilot, he was able to adopt a perspective of deep-rooted humanity. He once said of himself that he had not killed a single person for the entire duration of the war. Yet he fought vehemently against the insanity of war, using words as his most effective weapon.
His demise in a reconnaissance aircraft, which has long been shrouded in mystery, recalls a sentence from his most famous book, where the “Little Prince”, shortly before he is bitten by the snake and departs once more from this Earth, says to the pilot in the desert, “I shall look as if I were dead; and that will not be true …”.
Saint Exupéry, too, lives on in his works. And just as every previous IWC special edition was accompanied by a specially reprinted copy of one of his works on the subject of aviation, the Big Pilot’s Watch, which acknowledges his life’s work, will be supplied with an exclusive edition of his biography.
All that there is to say has essentially already been said long ago about the Big Pilot’s Watch from IWC, this icon among professional pilot’s watches: working inside its impressive, 46 mm diameter case is the large IWC 51111 calibre movement with an automatic Pellaton winding mechanism, which builds up a seven day power reserve. The IWC manufactured movement is equipped with features of the highest quality, such as a Breguet spring and a precise balance.
A large date display and a central seconds hand with stop function, together with a screw-in on ion crown, a sapphire glass with an antireflective coating on both sides and the riveted calf skin strap make the Big Pilot’s Watch a self-assured statement on the wrist.
The special Saint Exupéry edition differs from the standard model through its tobacco-brown dial and a different typography for the large Arabic numerals.
It is also recognizable to the experts by the “A.” – the initial letter of Saint Exupéry’s first name at “9.00”. The back of the watch carries an engraving, which portrays Saint Exupéry as a military pilot.
Model: IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Ref. IW5004 – Antoine de Saint Exupéry Fourth Edition
Reference IW500420: 18-carat white gold case, brown dial and brown calfskin strap
Reference IW500421: 18-carat rose gold case, brown dial and brown calfskin strap
Reference IW500422: Stainless steel case, brown dial and brown calfskin strap
Fourth and final tribute to the French pilot and poet Antoine de Saint Exupéry in the form of an IWC pilot’s watch with a Pellaton winding mechanism, tobacco-brown dial, central seconds hand, date display, 7 day power reserve, special case-back engraving
Power reserve: 7 days (168 h)
Platinum, white gold, rose gold, stainless steel
Glass: Sapphire, antireflective
Crown: Onion crown, screw-in
Limited edition of 1,900 watches in total (1,149 in stainless steel, 500 in rose gold, 250 in white gold, and 1 watch in platinum for auction)