70 years ago, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry took off on a reconnaissance flight over France and never returned. Now, IWC Schaffhausen commemorates the last flight of the celebrated pilot and author with three special limited editions, the IWC pilot’s chronograph. Moreover, all proceeds from the sale of the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “The Last Flight” in platinum at an auction later this year will benefit the charitable Antoine de Saint-Exupéry Youth Foundation.
A reconnaissance flight over the South of France on 31 July 1944 brought an abrupt end to Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s career and passion for flying. After taking off from a military base in Corsica, his Lockheed P-38 Lightning vanished without trace. Saint-Exupéry had already been discharged from the air force because of his age. He was also slightly overweight, and too big for the aircraft’s narrow cockpit. Despite all that, he was a patriot and an author constantly in search of adventure and decided to embark on the reconnaissance flight. Somewhere close to Toulon he was spotted by the German Luftwaffe. Speculation as to where he came down only ended in 1998, when a fisherman found a bracelet belonging to the French national hero in his net while fishing off the shore of Marseille. Pieces of wreckage were later recovered from the sea and identified as parts of Saint-Exupéry’s aircraft. The German pilot who all those years ago had unwittingly shot down one of his favourite authors recently met the French aviator’s family for the first time. “Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s passion for flying guided his life and work, and ultimately determined his fate. Since we began our cooperation with his descendants in 2006, IWC has unveiled a series of special limited editions of its Pilot’s Watch that have kept the memory of this extraordinarypilot and aviation pioneer alive to this day,” says IWC CEO Georges Kern. This year, the Schaffhausenbased watch manufacturer marks the 70th anniversary of Saint-Exupéry’s last flight with three special editions featuringsilicon nitride ceramic cases: the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “The Last Flight” is available with a crown and push-buttons in titanium, red gold or platinum,each in a limited series.
A watch to commemorate the final flight.
Since the very first one, all IWC special editions in honour of the legendary Antoine de Saint-Exupéry have featured the same tobacco colour as the flying suit he used to wear. While this elegant colour was restricted to the dial in earliermodels, the new Pilot’s Watches in “The Last Flight” Chronograph Edition are much more consistent, with a brown ceramic case made from silicon nitride, a brown dial and a calfskin strap in the same colour. The titanium pushbuttons, crown and case back provide a pleasing contrast on the 1,700 pieces in the limited edition (Ref. IW388004), a further 170 watches (Ref. IW388006) have eye-catching red gold highlights and 17 timepieces (Ref. IW388005) feature a crown, buttons and case back in platinum. The rugged case, made of high-performance ceramic siliconnitride, has several outstanding properties such as enormous heat resistance, unusual hardness, corrosion resistance and very low wear and tear. The sapphire glass has an antireflective coating on both sides and is secured against drops in air pressure, while the case is water-resistant to 6 bar. Developed and manufactured by IWC entirely in Schaffhausen,the 89361 calibre is a technical masterpiece. Stop times up to 12 hours are clearly displayed on an analogue hour and minute counter on a subdial. The back of the watch is engraved with a special image which commemorates the 70th anniversary of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s last flight. The timepiece itself is packaged in a leather case embossed with the same motif as the exquisite engraving on the case back, and is accompanied by a r otor-shaped letteropener in stainless steel. The two models, with crown and push-buttons in precious metals, also come with a print by French artist Manolo Chrétien on duraluminium in a brown leather frame.
Source IWC and Watchinsight.