IWC Schaffhausen, like any high-end watchmaker worth its salt, has made plenty of fine chronographs over the years. Take the cult classic ref. 3705 ‘Black Flieger’ or the high-octane Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg Ingenieur Chronograph signature models.
But they’ve never added a chronograph function to their most iconic watch ever – the legendary Big Pilot’s Watch – which has seemed like somewhat of a missed opportunity, to be quite frank. Thankfully, IWC has changed all that: the 153-year-old Swiss brand has finally added the much-desired complication to their flagship watch… In a rather unconventional manner.
The new Big Pilot’s Watch Monopusher Edition “Le Petit Prince” (ref. IW515202), at first glance, seems like a fairly standard Big Pilot – where are the chronograph pushers? Well, as the name suggests, the mechanical stopwatch is actually controlled via a single push button which is subtly integrated into the Big Pilot’s distinctive oversized crown. When the button is pushed once, timing starts. Pressing the button a second time stops the timing, and then a third press resets the chronograph. Pretty intuitive, no?
It’s a clever design choice that not only shows off IWC’s mechanical wizardry but also maintains the purity of the Big Pilot’s time-honoured, functional aesthetic.
“IWC has always been about tackling engineering challenges and finding technically elegant solutions. We have had the idea to present a Big Pilot’s Watch with a chronograph function for some time now. However, one can hardly imagine the unmistakable design with the large case and conical crown with two chronograph pushers on the side of the case. Therefore, we hit upon the surprising and at the same time logical idea to integrate a monopusher chronograph,” Christian Knoop, Creative Director of IWC Schaffhausen explains.
The “Le Petit Prince” part of the name refers to how it’s yet another special edition that honours aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s world-famous children’s novel, known in English as The Little Prince. (IWC has long been a supporter of the Antoine de Saint-Exupéry Youth Foundation.) IWC’s “Le Petit Prince” models all have this signature, very handsome deep-blue sunburst dial. Additionally, this model has unique retro Arabic numerals, which evoke the early days of aviation as well as early 20th century timepieces.
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Its manufacture 59365 calibre is rather unique, too. It’s IWC’s only manual-winding chronograph movement: 70 revolutions of the crown are enough to build up the maximum power reserve of eight days (pretty impressive stuff). A power-reserve indication on the back of the movement, which can be seen through the sapphire-glass case back, helps you keep track of its juice with ease.
Retailing for AU$25,200 and limited to 500 models, it’s not your usual chronograph – and it’s not your usual Big Pilot. Check it out online here.