The Swiss watch manufacturer IWC has dedicated several limited editions to pilot and author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. These watches range from simple three-hand pieces to more complex models with a perpetual calendar, moon phase, or GMT function.
The Swiss luxury watch manufacturer IWC Schaffhausen regularly pays tribute to famed pilot and author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry by releasing new watches in the Edition "Saint-Exupéry" series. The Frenchman is best known for his story The Little Prince, one of the best-selling books of all time.
These watches form part of IWC's Pilot's Watches collection. Their tobacco brown dials and matching alligator leather straps are a nod to Saint-Exupéry's flight suit. Most editions are extremely limited, made of gold, and feature intricate complications.
For example, the Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar "Antoine de Saint-Exupéry" has a perpetual calendar, moon phase display, and 168-hour power reserve inside its 46-mm rose gold case. On the other hand, the Pilot’s Watch Double Chronograph "Antoine de Saint-Exupéry" features a double chronograph, while the white or rose gold Pilot’s Watch UTC "Antoine de Saint-Exupéry" displays the time in a second time zone.
There are also simpler models, such as the "Pilot’s Watch Mark XVIII Antoine de Saint-Exupéry." This three-hand watch resembles a classic IWC pilot's watch. Its 40-mm stainless steel case makes it an interesting choice for both men and women.
|Model/Reference number||Price (approx.)||Features|
|IW502617||42,000 USD||Perpetual calendar|
|IW502706||27,500 USD||Annual calendar|
|IW500422||14,000 USD||7-day power reserve|
|IW326102||11,500 USD||Second time zone|
|IW371808||9,500 USD||Double chronograph|
The Edition "Saint-Exupéry" series offers a number of classic three-hand pilot's watches, including the Pilot’s Watch Mark XVIII "Antoine de Saint Exupéry" . This 40-mm stainless steel watch is powered by a modified ETA caliber 2892 with a date display at 3 o'clock. Its case back features an engraving of a Lockheed P-38 Lightning. Saint-Exupéry undertook his final reconnaissance flight over the Mediterranean Sea in this aircraft on July 31, 1944. At 3,700 USD new and 3,200 USD pre-owned, the Mark XVIII is the most affordable Edition "Saint-Exupéry" model.
The 46-mm Big Pilot's Watch is another IWC classic to receive the Saint-Exupéry treatment. Its numerals take their inspiration from early pilot's watches from the 1920s and 30s, giving this watch a certain retro charm. With a power reserve indicator at 3 o'clock, you'll always know how much of the in-house caliber 51111's 7-day power reserve remains. There's also a date display at 6 o'clock. The stainless steel model bears the reference number IW500422 and requires an investment of around 14,000 USD in mint condition and 10,000 USD pre-owned. If you prefer the rose gold edition (ref. 500421), those prices climb to 22,000 and 18,500 USD.
The Pilot’s Watch Power Reserve "Antoine de Saint-Exupéry" also has a power reserve indicator. It sits at 7 o'clock and lets you know when the ETA-based caliber 30140 needs winding. In this case, it's every 44 hours. A large date window at 3 o'clock displays not only the current date, but also that of the previous and next days. An engraving of the flight path from Toulouse to Casablanca occupies this 44-mm timepiece's case back. This was the first route Saint-Exupéry regularly flew. The stainless steel version is limited to a run of 1,178 pieces. Well-maintained models cost around 5,100 USD. Prices for the rose gold model sit at about 11,500 USD. Only 500 copies of this edition exist.
The Edition "Saint-Exupéry" series contains some chronographs as well. The most affordable model is the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph "Antoine de Saint-Exupéry" with reference IW377713. Its 43-mm stainless steel case houses a refined Valjoux 7750. It comes with a day-date display at 3, a small seconds at 9, an hour counter at 6, and a minute counter at 12 o'clock. You can purchase this timepiece for about 4,700 new and 3,900 USD pre-owned.
The caliber of the Pilot’s Watch Double Chronograph is also based on the Valjoux 7750. IWC adds their own rattrapante (double chronograph) module to this movement. Its split-seconds function allows you to time intervals via an additional push-piece at 10 o'clock. The dial design and layout are the same as the standard model. Plan to spend around 9,500 USD for a never-worn Saint-Exupéry double chronograph with reference IW371808. Used watches cost about 1,800 USD less.
If in-house calibers are important to you, you'll find a few options in the Edition "Saint-Exupéry" series. For example, the in-house caliber 89361 ticks away inside ref. IW3878. It boasts a 68-house power reserve and a flyback function. You can recognize this timepiece by the layout of its subdials: At 12 o'clock, there's a dual hour and minute counter, while the smalls seconds and date window share the 6 o'clock position. Mint-condition models sell for about 9,200 USD. Prices for pre-owned pieces start around 7,200 USD.
IWC is no stranger to intricate complications, as demonstrated by certain Edition "Saint-Exupéry" watches. The most complicated model is the Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar "Antoine de Saint-Exupéry" . A sapphire glass case back offers a view of its in-house caliber 52610. This movement lends the timepiece its small seconds dial, moon phase display, power reserve indicator, and perpetual calendar with the date, day, month, and year. The stainless steel version has the reference number IW503801 and costs about 24,000 USD new and 20,000 USD pre-owned. Expect to pay anywhere from 30,000 to 42,000 USD for the rose gold edition with ref. IW502617, depending on its condition.
The Annual Calendar "Antoine de Saint-Exupéry" comes in an 18-karat rose gold Big Pilot's Watch case. Three windows below 12 o'clock display the month, date, and day. There's also a small seconds dial at 9 and a power reserve indicator at 3 o'clock. IWC outfits this timepiece with the in-house caliber 52850 with a 168-hour power reserve. You can view its golden rotor shaped like an airplane through the sapphire glass case back. This watch is limited to a run of 250 pieces and demands around 27,500 USD in mint condition. Pre-owned models only cost a few hundred dollars less.
The Pilot’s Watch UTC "Antoine de Saint-Exupéry" adds a watch with a second time zone to the series. Instead of using an additional hand, IWC has taken a different route and displays the second time zone in a semicircular window at 6 o'clock. The date display sits in a window at 3 o'clock. The caliber 30170, based on the ETA caliber 2892-A2, provides this timepiece with its accurate timekeeping. Be sure to have around 5,000 USD on hand for the stainless steel model. This watch is also available in white or rose gold. Depending on their condition, these versions sell for between 11,000 and 14,000 USD.
Antoine Marie Jean-Baptiste Roger, comte de Saint-Exupéry was born in Lyon, France on June 29, 1900. His interest in aviation began at age 12 after accompanying engineer Gabriel Salvez-Wroblewski on a flight. After a few failed attempts, he was finally able to begin his career as a pilot. However, he is best remembered for his work as an author.
Saint-Exupéry's own tragic end also contributed to his fame. He had already survived a crash in the desert in 1935. He worked through his experiences by writing The Little Prince, which was published in 1943. In the Second World War, Saint-Exupéry sided with the Allies and fought with the Free French Air Forces.
On July 31, 1944, Saint-Expuéry took off from Corsica on his ninth reconnaissance mission in a Lockheed F-5, an unarmed version of the US fighter aircraft P-38. A German fighter pilot spotted him over the Mediterranean Sea and shot him down. Saint-Exupéry was considered missing in action, his fate unknown. In 1998, a fisherman randomly found a silver bracelet engraved with the names of Saint-Expuéry and his wife. This led to the discovery and recovery of his plane's wreckage in the years that followed.