The IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Annual Calendar Edition “Le Petit Prince” (reference IW502701) places last year’s Portugieser Annual Calendar into a pilot’s frame. The case in red gold, 46 mm diameter and 15.5 mm thick, is a couple of millimetres larger than the Portugieser, and so the calendar indications at the top are not quite concentric with the circumferences of the dial and bezel, but all the same the overall visual impression is good, with the dark blue sunburst dial creating a lovely contrast with the red gold and the dark brown Santoni calfspring strap with orange lining. Just as in the Portugieser, the IWC designers have made sure that we all know that the complication is an annual calendar, so not the complete calendar (which has to be adjusted for all months with less than 31 days) or the perpetual calendar (which takes account of everything, including the leap year cycle).
The numerals are in the Art Deco style of early aviation watches, and, along with the hands, they are coated with SuperLuminova for night-time visibility. The small seconds subdial on the left is balanced by the 7-day power reserve indicator on the right, a great performance provided by the two mainspring barrels. The annual calendar keeps track of the different lengths of the months but has to be adjusted once a year for the leap year cycle. Adjustments are performed from the crown, which has the stop second function for precision time-setting.
The highlight of the watch can be seen through the caseback, on which the Little Prince is standing on his small planet, which forms the oscillating weight crafted in red gold. The movement is the IWC calibre 52850 running at 28,800 vibrations per hour, 4 Hertz.
The IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Annual Calendar Edition “Le Petit Prince” is reference IW502701, a limited edition of 250 pieces. Price €36,600 incl. tax, £25,500 incl. VAT. Available from May 2016.