November 27, 2021
Despite the long-standing popularity of the Big Pilot’s Watch series and IWC’s status as one of the most prolific pilot’s chronograph makers in the industry, the brand has never brought a chronograph complication to the line – until now. Rather than simply introducing a chronograph complication to the familiar flieger-style IWC design, the brand ensures this first-ever Big Pilot’s Watch chronograph stands out by blending the ornate aesthetics of the “Le Petit Prince” sub-series with a chronograph execution that harkens back to the early days of aviation. With a handsome vintage-inspired look and an impressive in-house monopusher chronograph movement, the limited edition IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Monopusher Edition “Le Petit Prince” introduces chronographs to the Big Pilot’s Watch line with a striking and memorable execution.
True to its name, the stainless steel case of the IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Monopusher Edition “Le Petit Prince” measures in at an imposing 46.2mm-wide and 14.6mm-thick. This bold stance should bring the new model closely in line with the classic 46mm Big Pilot’s Watch on the wrist, and IWC keeps the broad strokes of its traditional pilot watch form intact in this design. The flat brushed case sides and strong tapering lugs are simple and athletic in initial images, broken up only slightly by a narrow tapering polished chamfer. Likewise, the slim, sharply sloping bezel should be familiar to fans of the brand, keeping the original flieger spirit of the design alive and dedicating as much visual space to the dial as possible. It’s the crown, however, that will draw the most attention here. The oversized, deeply fluted conical form is carried over from previous “Le Petit Prince” models, but IWC tops this design with a smoothly rounded signed pusher. Like many early chronograph wristwatch designs, this single pusher at 3 o’clock handles all chronograph functions, while giving this watch a sleek early 20th century-inspired look in images. IWC finishes the case with a broad sapphire display caseback. As with many IWC pilot’s watch designs, this model’s lack of water resistance works against its rugged tool watch reputation, managing a rating of only 60 meters.
Like the case, IWC approaches the dial of the Big Pilot’s Watch Monopusher Edition “Le Petit Prince” with an eye towards cleanliness and prewar vintage-inspired flourishes. The base dial closely follows the pattern of previous “Le Petit Prince” models in images, from its deeply grained sunburst dial in navy blue, to its syringe-tipped rhodium plated flieger handset, to the boldly ornate serif design of its applied Arabic numerals. For its new elements, IWC keeps this sense of antiquity intact, especially through the split execution of the outer seconds track with its matching printed numerals. The two-register layout with subdials at 12 o’clock and 6 o’clock continues this visual style handsomely, while creating excellent visual weight distribution across the dial. IWC’s approach to the subdials themselves deftly splits the difference between existing IWC chronograph designs and the more embellished approach of the “Le Petit Prince” collection. The recessed position and azurage finishing of these subdials helps to establish a sense of depth and texture in images, while the scales of both subdials carry on with a more decorative aesthetic. The only major disruptive force here in images is the 3 o’clock cutout date window, and without its white date wheel breaking up the dial surface the end result would likely feel almost perfectly symmetrical.
IWC powers the Big Pilot’s Watch Monopusher Edition “Le Petit Prince” with its in-house 59365 handwound chronograph movement. The 59365 is IWC’s only handwound chronograph movement, and the brand showcases this achievement vibrantly through its use of finishing. Côtes de Genève and polished chamfers adorn the broad cutout bridges and balance cock, while strategically placed openings showcase some of the design’s most dynamic features. A broad display cutout shines a spotlight on the oversized column wheel actuation system, and another showcases the gearing behind the eye-catching blued power reserve indicator hand. Beneath all these featured elements is a movement plate in bright perlage, which should give this movement a dynamic look in changing light. The 59365’s performance is equally impressive, with a massive 192 hour power reserve at a 28,800 bph beat rate. IWC continues the vintage aviation look of the Big Pilot’s Watch Monopusher Edition “Le Petit Prince” with its strap pairing, mounting the watch on a riveted leather pilot strap in deep mahogany brown.
With a refined, balanced look, high-quality finishing, and an extremely capable movement, the limited edition IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Monopusher Edition “Le Petit Prince” is a suitably special first chronograph offering for one of the brand’s cornerstone product lines. Only 500 examples of the IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Monopusher Edition “Le Petit Prince” will be made, and the watch is available now through authorized dealers at an MSRP of $16,100. For more information, please visit the brand’s website.