IWC Saint-Exupéry Chronograph: A Watch that lives up to its Namesake

Posted by Kathleen B. on July 10, 2020

The IW3777-13 Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “Antoine de Saint-Exupéry” was released by IWC Schaffhausen in 2017 to pay homage to the life and career of the famous humanist, author and french pilot, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. He was known for his curiosity, bravery, and written tales which have entertained and inspired generations of children and adults.

To emulate Saint-Exupéry’s beliefs on achieving true perfection, IWC designed a timeless pilot watch with clean lines, monochromatic coloring, durability, and practical elements that could be appreciated in any cockpit.

Copyright IWC

Who was Antoine de Saint-Exupéry?

Antoine Marie Jean-Baptiste Roger de Saint-Exupéry was born in Lyon, France in 1900 and grew up in the South of France. From an early age, he had a dream to fly and see the world. After studying architecture in Paris, Saint-Exupéry entered the French military in 1921 to make his dream come true and earn his military pilot’s license.  By 1924 he began flying as an airmail pilot.

When World War II began in 1939, Saint-Exupéry joined the French air force to fly reconnaissance missions. He continued flying with his air squadron until Germany overwhelmed France and his team was demobilized. From 1940 until 1943 he lived in New York City.

Not only did Saint-Exupéry live an exploratory lifestyle, but he also became a successful writer by telling stories about the life and adventures of pilots. His work includes The Aviator; Night Mail; Night Flight; Southern Mail; Wind, Sand, and Stars; and Flight to Arras. Saint-Exupéry was most known for the children’s fable that he wrote for adults, The Little Prince. The story has been translated into over 100 languages and is well-loved all over the world.

As the Allied cause strengthened, Saint-Exupéry’s French reconnaissance squadron was reconstituted and he began flying missions in North Africa. On July 31, 1944, Saint-Exupéry took off from an airbase in Borgo, Corsica flying a Lockhead P-38 Lightning to take reconnaissance photos over the Grenoble region in southern France. He disappeared that same day and was never seen again. 

In 1998, a fisherman was working in the Mediterranean Ocean off the coast of Marseille, France. When he pulled up his trawling net for the day, he discovered a bracelet engraved with Saint-Exupéry’s name. Nearly 60 years after Saint-Exupéry’s infamous disappearance, in 2000, a scuba diver found the wreckage of the Lockhead P-38 Lightning on the bottom of the ocean close to where the fisherman caught the bracelet.

IWC and the Saint-Exupéry Youth Foundation

In 2006, IWC Schaffhausen entered into a joint project with The Antoine de Saint-Exupéry Youth Foundation to exhibit the salvaged wreckage of Saint-Exupéry’s aircraft at a museum in Le Bourget. This was the beginning of a meaningful partnership focused on carrying on the legacy of Saint-Exupéry.

Since the exhibit, IWC has developed a “Saint-Ex” line of special editions pilot watches, which includes the IW3777-13, that pays tribute to the pilot and author. A portion of the proceeds is donated to The Antoine de Saint-Exupéry Youth Foundation to give children from around the world access to education.

Watch Description

The IW3777-13 Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “Antoine de Saint-Exupéry” is large, but not as large as you might expect for a pilot’s watch. With a diameter of 43.5 mm and width of 15.6 mm, the statement watch should fit through a jacket cuff. However, with a lug-to-lug width of 53.5mm, I would not recommend this watch for wrist sizes smaller than 6.75″ (17cm).

IWC did a beautiful job of creating a watch that represents Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s life and career as a pilot in the 1930s and early 1940s. The tobacco brown metallic sunburst color of the face and dark brown calfskin leather strap were chosen to represent the brown pilot uniform Saint-Exupéry wore on his flights. 

The thick leather strap is produced by Santoni, IWC’s preferred high-end strap manufacturer, and features contrasting cream-colored stitching, which reflects fashion trends of the WWII era. Although this watch is not available with a bracelet option, bracelets from other IWC Pilot chronographs should fit if you desire one.

Utilizing a beveled cut with an overall satin finish and polished finish on the vertical edges around the dial, the stainless-steel case maintains simple and clean lines, while also offering eye-catching dimensions. A Lockheed P-38 Lightning, the plane Saint-Exupéry flew on his final mission, can be found on the caseback.

Son and father sporting the IWC Pilot Watch “Antoine de Saint-Exupéry” and IWC Portugieser 7 Days.

With flight functionality in mind, the watch was designed to be highly legible and reliable. The hands, second marks, and large numbers are lumed and painted white to contrast the brown background. 

To ensure it stands the test of time and adventure, the IW3777-13 has a soft-iron inner case to protect it from magnetic fields and crystal secured against displacement by drops in air pressure. In addition, the watch is water resistant up to 6 bar, has a mechanical chronograph movement, and a 44-hour power reserve when fully wound.

Market Price and Availability

The IW3777-13 Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “Antoine de Saint-Exupéry” (watch overview) retails for $5,500 on the IWC website. However, the listing prices have steadily fallen over the last three years. At the time of this writing, the IW3777-13 has a private party value between $3,900 and $4,500. On March 31 of this year, one was sold on RolexForums for as low as $3,700.

On the dealer side, prices seem closer to the mid-$4,000s for pre-owned examples in good condition. While higher savings are definitely more attainable through private party, this still represents a decent discount compared to the original MSRP of $5,500.

Conclusion

The IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “Antoine de Saint-Exupéry” is one of a line of impressive IWC Pilot’s watches that were created to honor the remarkably creative and adventurous life of Saint-Exupery. Just like its namesake, this watch will hopefully remind its wearer to seek out adventure in their own lives. 

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