IWC’s “Le Petit Prince” collection is without doubt their most refined and pretty collections of Pilot’s Watches. It trades their typically bold military design for a more whimsical one inspired by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s iconic French children’s story, Le Petit Prince. Now, IWC are expanding the collection with an annual calendar version in stainless steel, the IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Annual Calendar “Le Petit Prince” IW502710.
This is a Big Pilot’s Watch in its most traditional sense. By which I mean the stainless steel case – it’s the first time the annual calendar has been produced in that metal – has a diameter of 46.2mm, not the newer 43mm diameter with the Spitfire Titanium and Bronze editions that we’ve seen recently. The light tone of the steel complements the sun ray brushed, royal blue dial. Blue is the signature colour of the “Le Petit Prince” collection as it evokes images of the skies and space through which the prince flies on his asteroid in the tale.
In fact, the prince and his asteroid are both depicted on the automatic rotor of the movement, visible through the exhibition caseback. The movement itself is the IWC calibre 52850 Annual Calendar with Pellaton winding system. In terms of horological prestige an annual calendar is pretty high, coming second only to perpetual calendars. The major difference between the two is that annual calendars need to be adjusted once per year at the end of February because they can’t account for leap years or the awkward length of February, whereas perpetuals can.
The great thing about IWC’s Big Pilot’s Watch Annual Calendar IW502710 (a combination first launched in 2016) is that the display is very legible. The wealth of information available can overwhelm some displays but IWC have kept things simple with triple calendar windows across the top for months, date and days. There’s then a small seconds subdial at 9 o’clock and a 7-day power reserve indicator at 3 o’clock, in addition to central hour and minute hands.
As for accessibility, well, I did say that annual calendars are second only to perpetual calendars so it’s very much at the top end of the “Le Petit Prince” price range at £19,400. Plus, it’s a limited edition of just 250 pieces. While there’s nothing particularly new about this release, the IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Annual Calendar “Le Petit Prince” IW502710 is one of those watches that makes you think, why haven’t IWC done this previously? The combination of this complication and this collection makes complete sense.