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IWC Big Pilot’s Special Edition “Le Petit Prince” IW501002 Review

One of the most interesting facts about the Big Pilot’s Watch collection by IWC Schaffhausen is that the designs in which the models take inspiration from (aviation wristwatches for German pilots) weren’t influenced by fashion at all, yet were equally well-received by members of high society and military personnel.


Modern Big Pilot’s Watches from IWC have undergone minimal upgrades or modifications to their designs over the years. Timepieces from this collection are hefty and feel substantial on the wrist, their large diameter serving as a very practical and functional tool when utilized at hundreds of feet above ground level.


The IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Edition “Le Petit Prince” ref: IW501002 is characterized by its signature midnight blue dial used as the trademark for all IWC’s special edition tributes to Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. The French author and famed pilot was best known for creating one of the best-selling books of all time - “The Little Prince” Story. The book has been written in over 300 languages worldwide and tells the story of a prince’s journey as he travels to seven planets and their inhabitants.


IWC Schaffhausen has dedicated many timepieces to the Frenchman ranging from complications like moon phase models, GMT functions and perpetual calendars, to the simpler three-handed date models. This broad 46.2mm stainless steel model, however, features that rich, captivating blue dial highlighted by luminescent features that help maintain clarity in light-limiting conditions. Combined with an impeccable movement and a specially engraved caseback, the timepiece makes for a unique addition to any enthusiast’s collection.


Let’s take a more thorough look at the key features of the IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Special Edition “Le Petit Prince”


The dial


Craftsmen at IWC have dressed Arabic numerals in white against the dial’s heavenly blue backdrop. These markers are replaced only at 12 o’clock by the recognisable triangular index and the third and sixth hour locations. At the east of the dial, you’ll be able to monitor the remaining energy levels of IWC’s expertly engineered Calibre from the 52000 series, but we’ll go into a little more detail on that shortly. Glance to the 6 o’clock location and you’ll be able to take instant note of each date throughout the month with the model’s crisp white aperture, neatly balanced by the company lettering sitting opposite at 12. One distinct feature of pilot’s watches from IWC Schaffhausen is their leaf-shaped central minute and hour hands. And of course, no aviation timekeeper would be complete without the vital centrally-mounted seconds hand, which sweeps effortlessly over the dial, reaching out to the detailed minutes around the dial’s periphery.


The case


It’s impossible not to notice or mention the large case size of this special edition Big pilot’s watch. It’s clear that this is an instrument designed to get noticed from miles away. The onion-shaped crown which sits at 3 o’clock on the side of the case is an unmistakable feature of the Big Pilot’s range. Not only does it round-off the entire look of this professional tool, but it serves a practical purpose too. Its large easy-to-handle size and ridged surface make gripping it under pilot’s gloves a complete breeze. The sapphire crystal glass lens which seals to the entire circumference of the bezel has been treated with an anti-reflective coating on both sides to grant a clear view into the dial at an instance. Furthermore, the back of the sealed case has been specially engraved with a depiction of the prince, complete with his cape and sword, paying tribute to the novel through a unique commemorative illustration.


The movement


A closer look at the movement authenticates the level of care and thought gone into every millimetre of this special edition design. The engine incorporates a Pellaton Automatic Winding system, which was invented and patented by Albert Pellaton in 1946. The innovation uses the rotor’s smallest parts to wind the mainspring in both directions. This Calibre 52110 beats to the rhythm of 28,800 oscillations per hour inside the watch’s 60-meter water-resistant steel frame, providing a useful 7-day power reserve which, as mentioned earlier, can be monitored through the power reserve scale at 3 o’clock on the dial. As with all IWC’s Pilot’s watches, the mechanism is protected inside a soft-iron inner case for profound resistance to magnetic fields.


The strap


The supple brown calfskin strap which secures this special edition IWC Big Pilot’s “Le Petit Prince” watch to the wrist is handstitched in a contrast white edging down the sides. It closes securely with a steel buckle engraved with the IWC lettering to complete a classic and authentic look.


For more information, you can view all the spec details of the IWC Schaffhausen Big Pilot’s Watch Special Edition “Le Petit Prince” here.

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