A Closer Look at the IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Constant-Force Tourbillon Edition Le Petit Prince

IWC Big Pilot's Watch Constant-Force Tourbillon Edition Le Petit Prince

IWC is known for its production of high-end luxury pilot’s watches. Most recently, the manufacturer designed a new collection prior to SIHH 2019, which includes three pieces featuring a world time, a double chronograph and the crown jewel of the collection which they called the Big Pilot’s Watch Constant-Force Tourbillon Edition “Le Petit Prince” with the reference number IW590303. The Constant-Force Tourbillon is a rare complication indeed, which makes it one of the most unique watches on the market today. This mechanical wonder bears a closer look and inspection to fully appreciate its magnificence.

Description of the IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Constant-Force Tourbillon Edition “Le Petit Prince”

There is nothing new about the IWC Pilot’s watch, but what is different about this edition is the complication. For the first time ever, IWC has placed a tourbillon inside a Pilot watch in a more plain setting than one would usually find a tourbillon. Instead of a dressy or rococo design, it’s not the aesthetic that takes the center stage, but rather the innovative mechanical complication which gives it an element of grandeur. This example is inspired by the Portugieser Constant-Force Tourbillon Edition 150 Years with updates in the styling, but the same mechanical design.

The case

We begin with an examination of the case, which measures 13.5 mm in height and 46.2 mm in diameter. The finish of the case is brushed with a polished finish on the bezel and screw-in type crown which has a distinctive diamond shape, to add a poshness to the aesthetic. The material of the case is a newly developed type of red gold which is 18k in purity, however, it has been hardened by between five to ten times over traditional 18k gold to improve durability and wear resistance, thanks to an alloy microstructure which has been created through a unique manufacturing process

The dial

Crafted in a blue sunburst pattern, the stage is set for a remarkable series of contrasts with propeller-shaped hands in gold plating, Applied Arabic numerals, and white luminous coating to provide high visibility in low light conditions. The display does not appear to be remarkably complicated with a small second provided on the tourbillon, hours and minutes and at 1 o’ clock, a moon phase with the power reserve indicator placed at the 4 o’ clock position. The unusually large case and dial are necessary to house all of the components of this wonderfully complicate pilot’s watch.

The movement

The Le Petit Prince is powered by a caliber 94805 in-house movement with improved chronometry through two integrated mechanisms by decreasing torque and maintaining the appropriate gravitational balance in an oversized tourbillon which counteracts negative gravitational effects to enhance precision in timekeeping. The powerhouse beats at 18,000 vph and is secured within an openwork bridge with the aid of a constant-force device which evens the transmissions of impulses sent to the oscillator. The power reserve is up to 96 hours with the indicator placed on the dial of the watch. The glass is a sapphire crystal, coated on the inside and the outside with an anti-reflective coating to reduce glare and keep the movement within safe from dust contamination or other kinds of damage. This watch is water-resistant for up to 60 meters. There are a total of 41 jewels and 341 components.

Strictly limited Edition

The IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Constant-Force Tourbillon Edition Le Petit Prince is offered in two variants. The first is the example which we’ve described with the hard red gold. The second example is crafted of Platinum material. Only ten examples of each watch will ever be made, making them each very rare watches because of the scarcity of their availability. This watch gets its name from a children’s book titled “The Little Prince” which was written by an author who also happened to be a French Aviator by the name of Antoine de Saint-Exupery. This isn’t a watch that is available just anywhere and it is an exclusive model which goes for 238,000 Euro, if you’re fortunate enough to be able to get your hands on one. This is a highly collectible watch which is set at an ultra-expensive price. Due to its an exceptional mechanical complication and the rarity of each of the 20 pieces released, the IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Constant-Force Tourbillon Edition Le Petit Prince is likely to increase in value with the passage of time.

Final thoughts

There are several factors which combine to make the IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Constant-Force Tourbillon Edition Le Petit Prince a highly valuable collectible watch. It features two firsts for IWC with the addition of a tourbillon to a pilots watch. The second significant innovation is the creation of a new gold alloy which maintains its full karat value with a unique process that hardens the material between five to ten times its unprocessed strength, given the name 5N, distinguishing it from other alloys. The watch is extremely attractive, yet it is simple in aesthetic. It is within the complications that the timepiece bears its significance. IWC made this model in an extremely limited production run of just 10 examples with an additional 10 pieces offered in a variant made of platinum metal. IWC is an established brand known for its collections of fine luxury pilots watches which are valuable, yet made of strong and durable materials because the watch was intended to be worn. We find the Le Petit Prince to be perhaps their most interesting creation to date, with its super hard alloy construction and the magnificent complications which offer multiple functions including hours, minutes, small seconds on the tourbillon, moon phase and a power reserve indicator located on the front of the dial. It truly is a remarkable timepiece which is a little off the beaten path for a pilot’s watch.


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