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Red gold IWC Big Pilot Antoine de Saint-Exupéry IW500421
IWC Big Pilot Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

For over a decade, IWC has been working closely with the descendants of famed French author and aviator, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, the man behind the beloved novella, “The Little Prince.” The first watch to come out of the collaboration was the limited edition IWC Saint-Exupéry Pilot’s Chronograph IW371709. Today, IWC remains a strong supporter of the Fondation Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. This organization focuses on combating child and youth illiteracy, and IWC donates proceeds from auctioning off unique pieces. As part of the relationship, IWC has continuously produced limited-edition watches dedicated to Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and The Little Prince. Here we take a look at two of these special models: the IWC Big Pilot Antoine de Saint-Exupéry ref. IW500421 and the IWC Big Pilot Le Petit Prince ref. IW500909.

IWC Big Pilot Antoine de Saint-Exupéry IW500421

The red gold IWC Big Pilot Antoine de Saint-Exupéry ref. IW500421 made its debut in 2009, alongside white gold and stainless steel versions of the same watch. Limited to just 500 pieces, the watch features a 46mm case with the characteristic Big Pilot oversized flared crown jutting out prominently on the right-hand side.

IWC Big Pilot Antoine de Saint-Exupéry IW500421 in red gold
IWC Big Pilot Antoine de Saint-Exupéry IW500421 in red gold

Housed inside the case is a stunning sunburst tobacco brown dial. The dial sets the perfect backdrop for the pair of large luminous hands for the hours and minutes and the red gold center seconds hand. Also on the dial is the power reserve indicator at the 3 o’clock position, a date window at six, and the letter “A.” at nine symbolizing the start of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s signature.

IWC Big Pilot Antoine de Saint-Exupéry IW500421 caseback
IWC Big Pilot Antoine de Saint-Exupéry IW500421 caseback

Furthermore, the solid red gold caseback of the IWC Big Pilot Antoine de Saint-Exupéry ref. IW500421 is engraved with an image of the famous Frenchman. There’s also the watch’s individual number, xxx/500, etched into the gold surface. Beneath the caseback sits the in-house IWC Cal. 51111, an automatic movement with an impressive seven-day power reserve. The movement winds up quickly thanks to the efficient Pellaton pawl-winding system, first patented by IWC in the 1950s. Finally, finishing off the handsome watch tribute to the celebrated aviator is a brown calfskin strap with red gold rivets, ivory stitching, and red gold deployant clasp.

IWC Big Pilot Le Petit Prince IW500909

While IWC began making Antoine de Saint-Exupéry in 2006, the watches dubbed Le Petit Prince only followed in 2013. The IWC Le Petit Prince models are characterized by blue sunburst dials (the only IWC watches to have blue dials) to symbolize the night sky. Moreover, these special-edition watches include an engraving of the little prince on the back of the watch.

IWC Big Pilot Le Petit Prince IW500909 in red gold
IWC Big Pilot Le Petit Prince IW500909 in red gold

Introduced in 2015, IWC made 250 pieces of the limited-edition red gold IWC Big Pilot Le Petit Prince ref. IW500909. The watch sports the familiar 46mm Big Pilot case with the prominent winding crown and like all Le Petit Prince models, it features a rich blue dial. On that dial are the large and luminous center hands, which sweep around to point to oversized luminous stencil-style Arabic numerals.

IWC Big Pilot Le Petit Prince IW500909 caseback
The IWC Big Pilot Le Petit Prince IW500909 caseback depicts the little prince

What’s more, similar to other Big Pilot watches, the Le Petit Prince ref. IW500909 includes a seven-day power reserve indicator and a date window, powered by the in-house automatic Caliber 51111. Protecting the movement is a solid red gold caseback, with a medallion at the center engraved with a picture of the little prince from the story. Of course, as a limited edition watch, alongside the imagery is the watch’s unique number, xxx/250. The limited-edition IWC Big Pilot Le Petit Prince ref. IW500909 is fitted with a brown calfskin strap, complete with ivory stitching.

Whether the Antoine de Saint-Exupéry or Le Petit Prince, these limited edition IWC watches are beautiful tributes to one of the most important authors of the 20th Century and his cherished tale of the little prince.

Written by

Celine Simon

Celine is a freelance luxury watch writer who has enjoyed working in the horology industry for over ten years. Like many of the high-end timepieces she writes about, she comes from Switzerland—the heart of fine watchmaking. From Singapore to Montreal to Geneva to Dubai, Celine has lived all over the world but now calls Southern California home.