As a partner of the Fondation Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, IWC Schaffhausen is committed to helping children and young people in disadvantaged circumstances. Founded in 2008 by Saint-Exupéry’s descendants, the charitable institution works to preserve the humanist values of the French writer and pilot. IWC’s contributes to the financing of the foundation’s social projects by auctioning off unique pieces.
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry was born in Lyon on 29 June 1900 and, even as a young boy, dreamed of flying. He worked for air freight and air mail companies in Africa and South America, and also undertook spectacular record-breaking attempts that on several occasions almost cost him his life. His second great passion was writing, and he was an author of international renown during his lifetime. The most famous of his literary works is the tale of “The Little Prince”, which has been translated into more than 298 languages. On 31 July 1944, Saint-Exupéry disappeared without trace while carrying out a reconnaissance flight. Only in 2000 were the remnants of his P-38 Lightning discovered on the bed of the Mediterranean.
With a view to upholding the spiritual heritage of the flying pioneer and aviator, his descendants established the Fondation Antoine de Saint-Exupéry in 2008. The organization focuses on the struggle against illiteracy and manages school and educational projects aimed specifically at disadvantaged children and young people.
IWC Schaffhausen has worked closely with Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s descendants since 2005 and also has a solid commitment to the Fondation Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. The strong partnership is based on the many points they have in common. Supporting children and adolescents who face difficult circumstances is one of the central pillars of IWC’s social commitment. Both partners firmly believe that knowledge and education can give young people long-term prospects and turn them into responsible citizens.
But apart from this, there is the notion of heritage: Saint-Exupéry’s pioneering achievements as an aviator date back to the time, about 80 years ago, when IWC launched its Special Pilot’s Watch, and with it the first watch in an on-going series. The Pilot’s Watches, with their characteristic dial design and technical highlights such as a soft-iron cage to protect the movement against magnetic fields, have held a firm place in the Schaffhausen-based manufacturer’s collection to this day.
Cooperation with the foundation is also reflected in the Pilot’s Watch family itself, because since 2006, special editions in honour of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry have been a regular feature. In 2014, for instance, IWC unveiled three versions of the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “The Last Flight”. This particular model, available in a limited edition, had a sepia-coloured dial and was IWC’s first timepiece in a case made of extremely rugged brown silicon nitride ceramic.
The tale of “The Little Prince” has likewise been a regular theme in the special editions since 2013. These models are the only Pilot’s Watches from IWC to feature a deep blue dial. The Pilot’s Watch Double Chronograph Edition “Le Petit Prince” also has a captivating day display in which a different star is illuminated in gold to represent every day of the week. The stars symbolize the seven plants visited by the little prince on his odyssey through the universe.
Liaising closely with Sotheby’s auction house, IWC has already put several exclusive timepieces for the benefit of the Fondation Antoine de Saint-Exupéry under the hammer. The proceeds go towards the funding of various school and educational projects.
In 2013, for example, a Big Pilot’s Perpetual Calendar Edition “Le Petit Prince” brought the princely sum of 173,000 francs. The foundation used the money to open two school buildings with an integrated library in Cambodia and also financed mobile libraries that pay regular visits to outlying villages.
In 2014, the proceeds from another auction were used to establish a library in a Brazilian children’s hospital complete with books, computers and e-books, which was inaugurated by IWC brand ambassador Adriana Lima.
In 2015, support went to the Hospitality and Catering Training Centre (HCTC) in Mae Sot in northwestern Thailand. This educational institute focuses on the advancement of young people from the Karen, an ethnic group in South East Asia who are often poorly integrated into the rest of society.