IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition Antoine de Saint Exupéry
In 2012, IWC is dedicating a special edition in 18-carat red gold, limited to 500 watches worldwide, to the poet and pilot
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. It marks Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s memorable first flight 100 years ago.
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry was already a legend in his own lifetime. People are fascinated as much by his books, which have been translated into more than 50 languages, as by his adventurous life as a pilot. In 2012, the year of the Pilot’s Watches, IWC Schaffhausen dedicates to this passionate humanist a chronograph that unites the aspirations of those pioneering days of aviation with modern watch technology.
The tobacco-coloured dial and the calfskin strap with its prominent quilted stitching are the features that make the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition Antoine de Saint Exupéry a typical “Saint Ex”.
A 100 years ago, a young boy stood on the airfield of Ambérieu-en-Bugey in south-eastern France, looking on in wonder as the aircraft took off and landed. In those early days of modern aviation, the contraptions that took to the sky were as fascinating as the magnificent men who flew them. Eventually, the boy plucked up his courage and asked the pilot Gabriel Salvez to take him for a spin in the cockpit of a Berthaud-Wroblewski. He spun the somewhat sceptical pilot a yarn, claiming that his mother would have no objections. Salvez took him at his word and so, one sunny day in July 1912, 12-year-old Antoine de Saint-Exupéry had his first taste of flying: an experience that was to leave its mark on the future world-renowned poet and pilot for the rest of his life.
The case back of the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition Antoine de Saint Exupéry is embellished with an engraving
of the poet and pilot’s last aircraft, a Lightning P-38.
Pilot’s Watch Chronograph from IWC as a sixth tribute
Famed for its 70-year tradition in the manufacture of Pilot’s Watches, IWC Schaffhausen is using the anniversary of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s memorable first flight as an occasion to dedicate its sixth special edition to his memory: the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition Antoine de Saint Exupéry in 18-carat red gold (Ref. 387805) in a limited edition of 500 watches. For connoisseurs, the tobacco-coloured dial and calfskin strap with its cream-coloured quilted stitching immediately identify the chronograph as a typical “Saint Ex”.
In July 1912, pilot Gabriel Salvez (pictured top left) took Saint-Exupéry, aged just 12 at the time, up for his first flight
aboard a Berthaud-Wroblewski. An experience that was to leave its mark on the future world-renowned
poet and pilot for the rest of his life.
The elaborate surface finish featuring polished, silky-matte and structured elements enhances the overall quality of the watch’s appearance. This impression is underscored by the sun-pattern finish on the dial. The sapphire glass has antireflective coating on both sides and is secured against drops in air pressure. Developed and manufactured exclusively by IWC, the 89361-calibre movement is a technical masterpiece.
A hundred years ago, spectators at the Ambérieu-en-Bugey airfield in south-eastern France marvelled at the daredevil pilots
and their magnificent, if slightly odd, flying machines. It was here that Antoine de Saint-Exupéry,
whose parental home was not far from Ambérieu-en-Bugey, discovered his passion for flying.
It displays long periods of times on a single subdial. A special engraving embellishes the back of the watch. It depicts the last aircraft Antoine de Saint-Exupéry ever flew, a Lightning P-38. It was on 31 July 1944 that “Saint-Ex” took off in a machine like this to carry out a reconnaissance mission over occupied France and never returned. In 2003, wreckage from his Lightning was salvaged from the Mediterranean Sea near Marseille.
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, pictured here as an airmail pilot in Africa, joined his colleagues in taking enormous risks
to ensure that postal despatches arrived safely and on time at their destinations.
In 2006, fragments of the aircraft, together with other exhibits, were displayed for the first time as part of a project organized jointly by IWC Schaffhausen and the Succession Antoine de Saint-Exupéry – d’Agay at the musée de l’Air et de l’Espace in Le Bourget, near Paris. The acclaimed exhibition marked the beginning of a relationship, which was based on mutual trust, between Saint-Exupéry’s heirs and the Swiss watch manufacturer that has lasted to this day. “With our long tradition of manufacturing Pilot’s Watches, we feel that there are strong bonds that bind us to Antoine de Saint-Exupéry,”
explains Georges Kern, CEO of IWC. “We were inspired by a man who was also a passionate designer and who obtained his first aeronautical patent in 1936, the very year that IWC, with the same obsession for engineering, built its first Special Pilot’s Watch and unveiled it to the public. We have enormous admiration for a pilot who was prepared to risk his life in the name of technological progress. And we are honouring Saint-Exupéry, the great writer and humanist, with whose works many of us grew up. Mankind and its pursuit of happiness are themes that are prevalent throughout his work.”
The airmail pilots: Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (left) and his friend Henri Guillaumet (right) in Argentina in 1930.
Saint-Exupéry immortalized aviation pioneer Guillaumet in his novel “Wind, Sand and Stars”.
IWC Schaffhausen is a partner of the Succession Antoine de Saint-Exupéry – d’Agay society. The descendants of the passionate pilot ensure that the adventurer’s spiritual legacy lives on. IWC’s commitment also extends to the society’s charitable arm in the form of support for the Antoine de Saint-Exupéry Youth Foundation. True to his credo, “For human beings, there is only one truth: the truth that turns them into human beings” (from his novel “Wind, Sand and Stars”), the Foundation has dedicated itself to the famous Frenchman’s humanitarian legacy. Working with its partners, it helps young people worldwide who are growing up in difficult and often hostile circumstances. These young people are encouraged to build their own futures and to play an active role in society.
“Saint-Ex” as a pilot in Argentina in 1930. He related his experiences as the man responsible for the first night flights
in “Night Flight”, which helped him to achieve his breakthrough as a writer.
A tribute to Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Since it started working with the Succession Antoine de Saint-Exupéry – d’Agay, IWC has used special editions of its Pilot’s Watches to commemorate the French author’s works that are closely linked to the pioneering days of aviation.
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry in 1935, shortly before his attempt to set a new long-distance record from Paris to Saigon.
He had to crash-land in the Egyptian desert and after 5 days was saved by Bedouin.
The Pilot’s Watch Chronograph launched in 2006 was a tribute to the novel “Night Flight”. This was followed in 2007 by the Pilot’s Watch Automatic, which paid homage to his gripping work “Southern Mail”, and in 2008 by the Pilot’s Watch UTC, to mark his poetic novel “Wind, Sand and Stars”. In 2009 and 2010, the Big Pilot’s Watch Edition Antoine de Saint Exupéry honoured his outstanding life’s work.
Henri Guillaumet (left) and Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (right), pictured here in the French flying boat Lieutenant de Vaisseau
Paris in Biscarrosse. They are making the joint preparations for a trans- atlantic flight to New York on 7 July 1939.
The special edition selected for 2011 was the rarely made Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar, and in 2012 the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition Antoine de Saint Exupéry is a reminder of how the aviator, poet and humanist discovered his great passion.
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (pictured here in 1938 in a cockpit) went down in history as a writer, adventurer and pilot,
for whom passion was of the essence. His life and work are inseparably connected with the history of aviation.
The adventurous life of a flying pioneer
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s biography reads like a chronicle of modern aviation. Born in Lyon in 1900, he was taking flying lessons by the age of 21 and by 1922 already had his licence. In 1927, he flew on the Toulouse–Casablanca– Dakar route. That same year, he was appointed manager of a remote airfield in Morocco. This was the period that inspired his first novel, “Southern Mail”. In 1929, Saint-Exupéry was appointed director of an airline in Buenos Aires. Although the introduction of regular night flights expedited postal deliveries, night-time flying, with the technology that existed at that time, was fraught with risk. His novel “Night Flight” is a tale of the challenges facing pilots and their heroism in surmounting them.
Books like “Night Flight” and “Southern Mail” have made the writer Saint-Exupéry (seen here in 1939) immortal.
With over 80 million copies in print, his story “The Little Prince” is one of the best-selling books of all time.
In 1931, Saint-Exupéry was back in Northern Africa, working as an airmail pilot. After flying seaplanes for a brief period and piloting mail flights across Africa, his memorable time as an airmail pilot came to an end in 1932. During his attempt to break the long-distance record from Paris to Saigon in 1935, he crash-landed in the Egyptian desert and was saved virtually at the last minute from dying of thirst. A second attempt to break a flying record was likewise doomed to failure: in 1938, Saint-Exupéry left New York in the direction of Tierra del Fuego. After a brief stop-over, the aircraft made a crash landing and, once again, Saint-Exupéry survived, as if by a miracle. Following the outbreak of the Second World War, and by now a celebrated author and pilot, he was attached to a reconnaissance squadron. Demobilized after the ceasefire of 1940, he obtained permission to return to active military service in 1943.
On 31July 1944,“Saint-Ex”, as his admirers fondly referred to him, climbed into the cockpit of his Lightning P-38 to carry out a reconnaissance mission over occupied France. He never returned.