Sibling rivalry Angus Davies reviews the new IWC Portugieser Annual Calendar replica watch, the first …
IWC shares a close relationship with the heirs of Antoine de Saint Exupéry that stretches back to 2006 with the launch of the IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph “Night Flight.” Antoine de Saint Exupéry was an acclaimed French poet, journalist, and writer who is best known for writing the novel The Little Prince. He was also a heck of a pilot. In honor of this impressive character, IWC has a collection of limited edition Pilot’s watches that pays tribute to both Antoine de Saint Exupéry as well as his most famous work. The latest one to do so is the new IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Annual Calendar Edition “Antoine De Saint Exupéry” watch.
The new Big Pilot’s Watch Annual Calendar Edition “Antoine De Saint Exupéry” is based closely on last year’s Big Pilot’s Watch Annual Calendar Edition “Le Petit Prince” but with a few changes. The Big Pilot’s Watch Annual Calendar Edition “Antoine De Saint Exupéry” comes in a hefty 46.2mm 18k red gold case and retains the large conical screw-in crown that has become a signature of IWC’s Big Pilot’s watches. Water resistance is a handy 60m, which means it should be good enough for the occasional swim.
The big change is on the dial. While watches in IWC’s “Le Petit Prince” collection have a deep and rich blue dial, the “Antoine De Saint Exupéry” watches distinguish themselves by having a rich tobacco brown dial, as we saw in the IWC Pilot’s Watch Double Chronograph hands-on here. Judging from the press photos, the dial seems to match the red gold case nicely. Another notable feature of the dial is the stylized “A” under the annual calendar readouts that represents the author’s name.
The heavy-hitter in the new-for-2017 set is the IWC Ingenieur Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month, a 45mm-wide and 17.5mm-thick slice in 18k red gold, based on what’s really a impressive movement, the IWC Caliber 89800. Constructed on the exact same 89000 foundations as the Chronograph Sport, this bit farther adds a perpetual calendar to the mix, spiced up with electronic indications for the month and date at 2 and 10 o’clock, respectively. A neat layout tweak is the way that the apertures are styled by what seem to be more sub-dials — although the functionless monitors in their periphery might come across as a design no-no in the eyes of watch style purists.From the back, it does look comparable to other 89xxx chronographs, as the perpetual calendar’s module has obviously been fitted onto the dial side (otherwise, you’d have all the important screens and signs way under the plane of the dial, not to mention that the chronograph bits book the back of the motion anyhow). For now, it is available in this variant using a silvery-white dial restricted to 100 pieces.This latest expansion of the round-again IWC Ingenieur collection is a sensible move unless you’re one of people who picked up a limited edition last year believing that was a rare chance. In the 40mm-wide automatics through the chronographs, these make for a solid core set while the endless calendar continues to impress with that exceptional movement. The IWC Ingenieur Chronograph Sport very explicitly lacks colors (probably not to clash with the limited variant of 2016) making it more safe than arousing of a design. Costs for all the distinct IWC Ingenieur testimonials and model variants, we will add when IWC makes them available.
At 12 o’clock, you have three apertures that display the month, date, and day. Also, at 3 and 9 o’clock, you have the power reserve indicator and subsidiary seconds respectively. The thick hands and beefy Arabic numeral hour indices feature red gold accents and look to have been generously applied with luminescent material so legibility, whether in the day or night, shouldn’t be an issue. The Big Pilot’s Watch Annual Calendar Edition “Antoine De Saint Exupéry” also comes with a matching brown calfskin strap with white stitching made by leather specialists Santoni.
Powering the Big Pilot’s Watch Annual Calendar Edition “Antoine De Saint Exupéry” is the IWC Caliber 52850, which is visible through a sapphire display caseback. It beats at a standard 4Hz and features a 7-day long power reserve thanks to two mainspring barrels. It also features the latest version of IWC’s Pellaton winding system, which has recently been upgraded with ceramic components to provide years of wear-free operation. It has also been handsomely decorated with Côtes de Genève and blued screws. However, the standout feature of the display has got to be the large 18k red gold winding rotor, which has been partially skeletonized to create a Lightning P-38 plane. The decision to use a Lightning P-38 plane is a sentimental one as Saint Exupéry disappeared over the Mediterranean sea in one when flying on a reconnaissance mission.
Obviously, the IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Annual Calendar Edition “Antoine De Saint Exupéry” will appeal most to fans of The Little Prince and admirers of the author. However, there’s a lot to like about the watch even if you are not familiar with Saint Exupéry and his works. The tobacco brown dial and the red gold case look like a great match and I especially like the watch’s winding rotor that is shaped like a Lightning P-38 plane. The IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Annual Calendar Edition “Antoine De Saint Exupéry” is limited to 250 pieces and is priced at $32,400. iwc.com