IWC Big Pilot Le Petit Prince Replica

Flight has always been one of the main arteries in the field of watchmaking. As collectors, we fantasize about strapping a reliable watch to our wrist and taking to the sky on a great adventure: the watch, our noble companion who keeps us on track. One replica watches way IWC recognizes this and honors tradition with its Le Petit Prince collection. Named after the famous novel by aeronautical pioneer author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, this line of Swiss watches features a midnight blue dial. Fresh for SIHH 2019 IWC has announced the next chapter in the Le Petit Prince line with the IWC Big Pilot's Watch Constant-Force Tourbillon Edition “Le Petit Prince” (reference IW590303).

This IWC replica will feature a constant-force tourbillon in the IWC-made caliber 94805, which we saw used in a Portugieser here. This is the brand's solution to an age-old problem; as a watch's mainspring unwinds, the force applied to the escapement decreases causing a difference in amplitude and ultimately accuracy. This patented constant force tourbillon solves this problem by separating the escapement from the dial train and measures the tension applied to the balance spring. The result is an even dispersion of force across the escape wheel by negating the effect of gravity and providing remarkable accuracy, the brand claims. The tourbillon is visible at 9 o'clock on the dial which ticks at 2.5Hz. The hand-wound movement boasts a 96-hour (or 4-day) power reserve indicated on the dial between 4 and 5 o'clock, and a perpetual moonphase display at 1 o'clock with the Petite Prince character perched on his planet instead of a Moon.

In addition to noteworthy movement characteristics, this new Le Petit Prince is also the first IWC watch to come in a “hard gold” case. Hard gold is a new 18kt red gold alloy that has been formulated to be 5-10 times more resistant to wear – somewhat reminiscent of Hublot's magic gold. It's common for brands to introduce something like a special new material into a halo piece like this, but we can definitely expect it to be used in more affordable watches soon — relatively affordable, that is, since it's still 18k gold we're talking. . As with other Big Pilots, this version is 46.2mm wide and 13.5mm thick, while the caseback features a sapphire display to view the ornate bridges and get a few glimpses of the iwc replica gear train (the real star of the show is the tourbillon right there on the dial). The IWC Big Pilot Le Petit Prince Replica will be released in a 10-piece edition, so in all likelihood I'll never see one of these in the metal. This does not prevent me from being able to appreciate IWC's technological achievements. The tourbillon has been around for just over two centuries at this point, but the partnership between the constant force mechanism and the 96-hour power reserve is remarkable in its own right. As for the "hard gold" case, we'll have to see how it performs, but if it performs as it should in terms of wear resistance, it will be a worthwhile addition.