The author and aviation pioneer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry disappeared during a reconnaissance mission over occupied France in 1944, but the Swiss watch brand IWC Schaffhausen continues to resurrect his spirit to promote a limited series of pilot’s watches.
With its latest offering, the Pilot’s Watch Timezoner Chronograph Edition “80 Years Flight to New York,” IWC pays tribute to the 80th anniversary of Saint-Exupéry’s historic transatlantic flight aboard the Latécoère 521 “Lieutenant de Vaisseau Paris,” France’s answer to the Spruce Goose. (The six-engined aircraft was the largest built in the country at the time of its completion.)
“Antoine de Saint Exupéry is an icon for IWC Schaffhausen due to his fascination with time and his accomplishments, which are rooted in both mechanical functionality and art & design—aligning with our values when it comes to crafting high-quality timepieces,” IWC CEO Christoph Grainger-Herr told Robb Report. “As both a pilot and passenger traveling onboard the Latécoère 521 ‘Lieutenant de Vaisseau Paris’ in July 1939, he was amazed at the flying boat’s ability to cross the North Atlantic in just 28 hours and 27 minutes. IWC Schaffhausen is celebrating the exciting events the French aviator participated in, as well as an ode to New York, where he wrote his most famous literary work Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince).”
The limited-edition chronograph’s chief complication is a time zone function (naturally) powered by the automatic, IWC-manufactured 89760 calibre; to adjust the time, the wearer simply presses down and rotates the brown ceramic bezel so it aligns with one of the 24 world cities (Paris and New York are distinguished in red). The brown hue of the dial and calfskin strap is derived from the color of pilot’s suits in Saint-Exupéry’s era. Meanwhile, the caseback features an engraving of the Latécoère 521.
To place the aviator and author’s transatlantic journey in context, IWC has created a photographic retrospective that will be on display at its boutique in New York City through October 31. Using pictures, the brand tells the story of Saint Exupéry’s trip as well as the time he spent in New York, where he wrote his most famous literary work, “Le Petit Prince” (“The Little Prince”).
The $13,100 watch is limited to 80 pieces. Full proceeds from the sale of the first piece—“1 of 80”—will go to the Antoine de Saint-Exupéry Foundation.