It has been 70 years since Antoine de Saint-Exupéry took off on a reconnaissance flight over the South of France in the Mediterranean Sea and never returned. This year, IWC Schaffhausen launches a new timepiece to commemorate the last flight of the legendary pilot and adventurer with three special limited editions.
The new IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “The Last Flight” is the ninth in the series of pieces that celebrates Antoine de Saint-Exupéry since 2006. To express its deep connections with Saint-Exupéry’s descendants, one exceptional model of “The Last Flight” in platinum will be offered at an auction in November at Sotheby’s Geneva. All proceeds from the sale will benefit the charitable Antoine de Saint-Exupéry Youth Foundation.
To commemorates the 70th anniversary of his last flight, IWC offers three special editions featuring silicon nitride ceramic cases each measuring 46mm in diameter and 16.5mm in thickness. There is a choice among different material used for the crown and push-buttons. The version with a titanium crown and push pieces (ref. IW388004) is produced in a limited series of 1,700 specimens; a striking gold crown model is issued in a smaller amount of 170 pieces (ref. IW388006), while the most exclusive one with platinum crown, pushers and case back is offered in an ultra limited edition of only 17 pieces (ref. IW388005).
These newcomers, just like other IWC special editions dedicated to the Saint-Exupéry feature the same tobacco color as the flying suit he used to wear. Although this color was used only in a dial in earlier Saint-Exupéry’s timepieces, now it is much more consistent, spreading from the case and the dial all to an elegant calfskin strap.
IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “The Last Flight” is housed in a rugged case, crafted from high-performance ceramic silicon nitride, which has several outstanding properties, such as enormous heat resistance, corrosion resistance, exceptional hardness and very low wear and tear.
A sun-burst dial is protected with the sapphire crystal with an antireflective coating on both sides. The watch is secured against drops in air pressure and its case is constructed to resist water pressure of up to 60 meters (about 200 feet).
The elegant dial with the sun-pattern finish features a typical pilot-style layout with details such as, large luminous hands and indexes which are surrounded with mirror polished rings and applied on the dial, thus providing a quite high legibility. The dial also features two chronograph counters for measuring time up to 60 minutes and 12 hours which are well balanced at 6 and 12 o’clock positions. There is also a central chronograph seconds hand, as well as a date window located at the 6 o’clock position.
The beating heart of the new limited edition watch is the entirely IWC developed and manufactured caliber 89361 automatic chronograph movement with no less than 68 hours of power reserve. The self-winding mechanism is built on 38 jewels and oscillates at the rapid frequency of 28,800 alternations per hour (4 Hz).
When you turn the watch upside down, you can see an engraved case back with a special 70th-anniversary logo depicting the head of Saint-Exupéry. The same image is embossed on the watch’s leather case which houses a rotor-shaped letter opener. The precious metal models come with a print on duraluminum in a brown leather frame by a French artist, Manolo Chrétien.