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The Journal

TALE OF MIRACLES: THE LITTLE PRINCE AND THE PILOT’S WATCH TIMEZONER

His plane had crashed in the Moroccan desert. And for five days, he was aimlessly wandering around the sand dunes with nothing but a thermos in his pocket. Injured. Thirsty. It was in this state of delirium that he first heard the Little Prince speaking to him about love, about purpose, and about the meaning of life. Little did he know that these moments would bring to life a character that would be a source of wisdom and compassion for many people all over the word, young and old alike. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry would have celebrated his 120th birthday this year. 

 

On the occasion of the exhibition “Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: Un Petit Prince parmi les Hommes” in Lyon and Toulouse and the launch of the latest limited Pilot’s Watch Timezoner Edition “Le Petit Prince” (Ref. IW395503), IWC JOURNAL spoke with St. Ex’s great-nephew Olivier d’Agay about miracles, a djellaba from 1927, and what taming is really all about.

—The Little Prince, Copyright : Succession Antoine de Saint Exupéry - d’Agay / Antoine de Saint Exupéry boarding airplane

Available in a jaw-dropping 420 languages, the Little Prince is the most translated book of all time. What is it about the book that appeals to so many people?

The Little Prince is a meeting between Antoine de Saint-Exupéry as an adult, and Antoine de Saint-Exupéry as a child. It’s a conversation in which a child explains to an adult what life is all about. The book contains so many essential values that are still valid today. 

 

People are yearning for some comfort, stability and perhaps a moral compass—especially during difficult times. How can the Little Prince help people find what they are looking for?

I meet a lot of fans of the Little Prince on my frequent travels. The people most touched by the book are those looking for consolation, support, encouragement. Because they may have lost someone or are not free. So they tell me that the Little Prince brings them hope and comfort. They say that they read the book many times because it helped them endure a particular situation and accept it. 

We also have millions of followers on our Facebook page because people are looking to the Little Prince for hope. It’s another piece of evidence for the immense power and significance of this book.

 

What kind of person was your great-uncle?

He loved travelling and discovering new places and continents. He regarded himself as a citizen of the world. Where was his home? Everywhere and nowhere. Never satisfied by any place, woman or music. He always thought that we lived on this fragile planet together, so we should not waste our time fighting but simply accept our differences. Because this planet is a miracle.

 

Tell us about the new temporary exhibition “Antoine de Saint Exupéry: Un Petit Prince parmi les Hommes” in Lyon and Toulouse.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry was a “little Leonardo”, so to speak: a writer, poet, journalist, moviemaker, involved in arts and science. So in this exhibition, we have tried to cover all aspects of his versatile life and to make them as palpable as possible. Visitors are invited to visually, emotionally and sensually immerse themselves in all the various stages of St. Ex’s life. Moreover, we have produced a very special audio guide that leads you through the exhibition. I don’t want to reveal too much, but the guide is a lady who cared a lot and knew everything about St. Ex. She has been following him all his life and allows us to take a very intimate peek inside the family.

 

What is your favorite part of the exhibition?

What I love about this exhibition is the great number of original items, documents and exhibition pieces, such as original manuscripts, letters to his mother, his wife, and his friends. There is also a piece of the plane that crashed in the desert and was found by caravan travelers. The most fascinating item to me is the original djellaba that Saint-Exupéry wore in 1927 in Morocco, when he was living literally in the middle of nowhere. You can almost see and feel the desert sand in the fabric. I saw people cry when they saw all of the original artifacts along with the sculpture of the Little Prince by the famous artist Arnaud Nazare-Aga. This exhibition is one of our biggest achievements. It took us two years to put it together, and once again it taught us to never give up.

 



—Olivier d'Agay, great-nephew of St. Exupery and Delegate General of the Antoine de Saint-Exupery Youth Foundation

Which words best describe your great-uncle, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry?

His good qualities first: he was a genius, courageous, not interested in material things, a free spirit, who defined what real friendship is.

As for his not so good qualities: he was a complex man carrying lots of contradictions within, a good brother, but not a good husband, he was not good at dealing with financial matters or real estate, and most of the time was not a very rational man. Perhaps that’s why his writings turned out so beautifully. 
 

What’s your favorite quote from the Little Prince?

“To you I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world....” It’s about taking responsibility. You are responsible for the one you tame. What is love, what is friendship? It’s taming. Our time is short, so if you spend time with another person, it’s time well spent.
 

Speaking of time well spent, how do you like the new IWC Pilot’s Watch Timezoner Limited Edition “Le Petit Prince”?

Its beautiful. I love the blue dial that represents the fruitful partnership between IWC and the Antoine de Saint Exupéry Youth Foundation. Im also fascinated by the engineering behind this watch. When you turn the bezel, the window at 12 oclock shows the time in any given time zone, a very useful feature for someone like me who travels a lot. My favorite detail is the medallion on the watchs rotor that shows an engraving of the Little Prince. Its not obvious and a bit hard to find at first. But isnt that the case with the most precious things in life?


After Lyon and Toulouse, the Exhibition “Antoine de Saint Exupéry: Un Petit Prince parmi les Hommes will be hosted in Brussels, Quebec, New York, Osaka, Seoul and Paris.

 

 


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