Long gone are the days where the Big Pilot was a strictly utilitarian tool watch, fit for the rigours of aviation and not much else. The oversized case with its signature fluted crown are more of a style statement now, which means more complications, more colours and now these two new, rather spectacular Big Pilot’s Perpetual Calendar “Le Petit Prince” Tourbillon & Racing Green.
IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar Tourbillon Edition “Le Petit Prince”
First up we have the latest in IWC’s storybook inspired Le Petit Prince collection, one that’s been painting its signature blue across the dials of the watchmaker’s collection for a fair few years now. It’s not a story many of us in the UK are familiar with – an interplanetary prince visiting irrational grown-ups across the cosmos – but the Antoine de Saint-Exupéry-penned stories have a particular place in the French-speaking world.
All you really need to know however is that the collection consists entirely of blue dials, the signature colour of Le Petit Prince.
This piece is in essence a sequel to IWC’s first tourbillon-equipped pilot’s watch from 2018, one that also happened to be of the same azure edition. This piece however adds a perpetual calendar to the mix, making for one of the most complicated IWC pieces around.
A complication of that level requires gold of course, but don’t worry too much about knocking that oversized crown. IWC’s Armour Gold is significantly more hardwearing than your usual soft, precious metal – which is good considering that’s 46.4mm across of potential scratches.
There’s a lot going on dial-side, but the white and gold elements stand out nicely against the blue, and the snailed outer tracks of the subdials help readability immensely. As a nice little tribute to the collection, if you keep your eyes on the moon phase you may just see the little prince himself surrounded by stars.
The mascot’s also on the rotor of the calibre 51950, an automatic with an impressive 7-day power reserve. It makes for a perpetual calendar that you won’t need to reset every other time you wear it.
As expected, the Big Pilot’s Perpetual Calendar “Le Petit Prince” Tourbillon is a strict limited edition, and a pricey one at that: 50 pieces at £104,000.
Price & Specs
Ref: IW504803 | Case/dial: 46.2mm diameter x 16.0mm height, 18K Armor Gold®, blue dial | Water resistance: 100m | Movement: IWC-manufactured calibre 51950, automatic, 54 jewels, 456 parts | Frequency: 19,800 vph (2.75 Hz) | Power reserve: 168h | Functions: Hours, minutes, flying tourbillon at 12 o’clock, perpetual calendar with displays for the date, day, month, leap year and perpetual moon phases, power reserve display | Strap: Brown calfskin | Price: £104,000, limited to 50 pieces, available at IWC.
IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar Edition Racing Green
From French storybook to something distinctly British, this one is perhaps a little more straightforward than Le Petit Prince. I mean, it pretty much says what it is in its name, an eye-catching version of the Big Pilot’s Perpetual Calendar with a British Racing Green Dial. Go figure.
There are though a few elements worth pointing out. The first is the case, which is made from hardwearing black ceramic, a bit more fitting than gold, Armour or not. It gives the watch a touch of utilitarianism despite the action on the dial.
Next is that although this is another perpetual calendar, it’s an entirely different movement. That’s not just because it lacks a tourbillon, but because the base calendar movement is IWC’s 52615 calibre. It still has the phenomenal 7-day power reserve, but puts the moon phase on a separate subdial at 12 o’clock, rather than integrating it into the months. It makes for a cleaner, clearer layout more suited to the oversized dial.
The Big Pilot’s Perpetual Calendar Racing Green is also considerably less limited at 250 pieces. That’s not a huge amount of course and I reckon this particular shade of green will do incredibly well (not just in the UK), especially as it comes in at £27,000. For a perpetual calendar with a ceramic case, that’s surprisingly good. Not accessible by any stretch, but not as bad as it could be.
Price & Specs
Ref: IW503005 | Case/dial: 46.5mm diameter x 15.5mm height, Ceratanium® case, green dial | Water resistance: 60m | Movement: IWC-manufactured calibre 52615, automatic, 54 jewels, 386 parts | Frequency: 28,800 vph (4 Hz) | Power reserve: 168h | Functions: Hours, minutes, small hacking seconds, perpetual calendar with displays for the date, day, month, year, and perpetual moon phase for the northern and southern hemisphere, power reserve display | Strap: Black calfskin | Price: £27,000, limited to 250 pieces available at IWC.