There have been few stories published that have captured the hearts and minds of children and adults quite like Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince), which recently celebrated its 70th anniversary. It is an enchanting tale of a pilot stranded in the desert meeting a young prince, who has travelled to earth from his home on a small asteroid in search of friendship and greater understanding. As the pilot attempts to repair his downed plane, the little prince shares the story of his life with him, recounting tales of other planets visited and odd people encountered. Originally intended as a children’s book, the story tenderly unfolds, revealing many profound and idealistic observations about life and human nature. One of the novella’s most frequently used quotes is from one of the fox’s many lessons, “On ne voit bien qu’avec le coeur. L’essentiel est invisible pour les yeux.” (“One sees clearly only with the heart. What is essential is invisible to the eye.”)
In 2006, IWC launched a special edition of watches honouring Antoine de Saint-Exupéry with the Pilot’s Watch Chrono Automatic, a tribute to the novel Night Flight. In 2007, the Pilot’s Watch Automatic, honouring the gripping Southern Mail, followed, and in 2008 the series continued with the Pilot’s Watch UTC, a homage to his poetic Wind, Sand and Stars. In 2009 and 2010, the fourth special edition, the Big Pilot’s Watch, honoured his outstanding life’s work; it was followed in 2011 with the rarely made Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar.In 2012, in recognition of IWC Shaffhausen’s 70-year tradition in the manufacture of Pilot’s Watches and as a tribute to mark Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s memorable first flight, the company released its sixth special edition in his memory: the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition Antoine de Saint Exupéry. Crafted in 18-carat red gold with a poignant special engraving of a Lightning P-38, the last aircraft he ever flew, embellishes the back of the watch. In 2013 IWC celebrated the 70th birthday of The Little Prince with the launch of two limited special editions: the Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar Edition “Le Petit Prince” and the Pilot’s Watch Mark XVII Edition “Le Petit Prince”. Common to all the special editions is that each one has featured a single model in platinum, which has gone up for auction. How the proceeds from the auction are used is decided in cooperation with the Fondation Antoine de Saint-Exupéry for Youth, which ensures that the donation reflects values espoused by Saint-Exupéry.