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Review: IWC Pilot's watch Le Petit Prince

This morning I was lucky enough to get my hands on the newly release IWC Pilot’s Watch Mark XVII Edition “Le Petit Prince”. The watch is limited to just 1,000 pieces and is one half of two special editions (the other being the quite spectacular Big Pilot Perpetual Calendar IW502802) celebrating the 70th anniversary of the release of the famous children’s book “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.

Saint-Exupéry was a renowned military and airmail pilot as well as being the most widely read French Author of the 20th Century. IWC will donate part of the proceeds of sales of both watches to the Foundation Antoine de Saint-Exupéry to support its worldwide struggle against illiteracy.

The watch is strikingly beautiful to look at, with a very on-trend blue dial that reacts with the light to create many different shades on your wrist. The first thing that you notice once you put it on is that for a pilot’s watch, which tend to be rather chunky, this model is especially light and ergonomic.

The steel case is 41mm in diameter, but thanks to the weight and the convex bezel and crystal it actually wears a bit smaller than that. Whether this was the intention of IWC, it seems to me a fitting tribute to “Le Petit Prince” that does not take anything away from the essence of the Pilot’s Watch in which high legibility is essential.

The ‘upward orientation’ triangular index at 12 o’clock on this watch is slightly curved, perhaps not conforming to usual standard Pilot’s watches. The curvature slightly elongates the index, matching the extended pointers at the end of the ‘propeller’ style hour and minute hands. As a subtle reference to the book, there is a small star at the rear of the seconds hand.

The model features the traditional altimeter inspired large date display at the 3 o’clock position. Drawing a line from the curved 12 o’clock index straight down to the date aperture you would see that the shapes would become perfectly integrated. This also references the inner ring on the caseback which is engraved with all the watches essential details.

The caseback is engraved with an image of “Le Petit Prince” standing on the edge of the earth complete with scarf blowing in the wind. One the aforementioned inner ring is engraved the words ‘one out of 1000’. I think it’s a huge mistake not to individually number these limited editions, but I suppose for IWC it prevents any tension over clients picking individual numbers.

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