Hello everyone! In this article, I’ll be shining a spotlight on my recent watch purchase, the IWC Mark XVIII Le Petit Prince.
I previously did a similar article on the IWC Mark XVII. In the article, I extolled the numerous reasons why I loved the Mark XVII, but have since sold the watch. It’s a great watch no doubt, but unfortunately one that I just didn’t vibe with over time. Being a flieger, it had a utilitarian personality – I’m as far away from being a military, rugged guy as possible.
I’ll be honest and admit that the Mark XVIII Le Petit Prince was an impulse buy. A friend brought the watch during a get-together. I saw it, instantly fell in love with it, and basically bought it off him on the spot (he delivered the box and papers later). After a month with the watch, I’m smitten by it – here’s why:
IWC Mark XVIII Le Petit Prince – Video
For those who are interested in some hands-on footage of the watch, do watch my Youtube video below:
1) Brilliant Blue
I simply fell in love with the sunburst blue dial. The Mark XVII didn’t last too long in my collection because its black dial was very much military-inspired, and I’m not much of a military man, making it hard for me to connect with the design. The same can’t be said for the brilliant blue dial of the Mark XVIII Le Petit Prince, which captured my attention right from the get-go.
Long-time readers of my watch reviews know that I’m a fan of textured dials. While the matte black dial of the Mark XVII is historically accurate, I much preferred the sunburst blue of the Mark XVIII Le Petit Prince. It’s visually striking, and plays with the light phenomenally.
In my previous article on the Mark XVII, I stated that I appreciated its exposed triple date-wheel as it “evokes the look of an altimeter gauge in a fighter plane’s cockpit”. That’s still true, and I think if you’re looking for a pilot’s watch the Mark XVII is perhaps still the more compelling choice. However, I’ve realised that I’m not a fighter pilot, and now prefer the simple date window of the Mark XVIII Le Petit Prince. It gives the watch a dressier feel, making it into more of a modern everyday watch – something like the Vacheron Constantin Fifty-Six, or perhaps the new Longines Spirit. Coupled with its slightly slimmer proportions, the Mark XVIII Le Petit Prince shakes off the austerity of its Mark XVII predecessor, and feels equally at home with either a suit and tie, or dressed down in T-shirt and jeans.
That being said, the Mark XVIII Le Petit Prince doesn’t lose sight of its aviation roots. The numerals are still big, legible and lume-filled, as are the crisply printed minute and hour markers. The white contrasts sharply with the blue dial, resulting in an eminently legible watch – the raison d’etre of fliegers.
When I reviewed the IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph 41 over at SJX a few months back, I was highly impressed by it, and had earmarked it as the IWC to get. It had the in-house movement, the complication, and killer looks with its sunburst blue dial. It also seemed like an upgrade over the time-only Mark XVII that I had.
Well, those thoughts went out the window when I saw the Mark XVIII Le Petit Prince in person. I was struck by its simplicity, how it had everything one needed (the date and time) and nothing that one doesn’t. It made me realise that I didn’t need the chronograph function – I can’t remember the last time I actually used a chronograph to time something important – nor the in-house movement. I certainly didn’t require the extra thickness of the chronograph model, or the higher price tag. It was a Marie Kondo moment as I realised that what sparked joy was the inherent beauty of the timepiece itself.
It’s also thematically congruent with its roots as a flieger. The quintessential aspects of a Pilot’s watch are its simplicity and legibility – the original IWC B-Uhr Big Pilot’s Watch was a time-only. In other words, the Mark XVIII Le Petit Prince captured the essence of the pilot’s watches that IWC has made since 1940, but in a contemporary package. It’s a perfect balance that the watch straddles, the best of both worlds if you will.
3) Le Petit Prince
Of course, a huge draw of the IWC Mark XVIII Le Petit Prince is in its name – the connection to The Little Prince himself.
The Le Petit Prince line can be said to be derived from IWC’s longstanding collaboration with the Fondation Antoine de Saint Exupéry, which is named after the famous author – and aviator – of the iconic novel, Le Petit Prince. Since debuting the first “Le Petit Prince” watch in 2013, the line has been synonymous with blue dial pilot’s watches from IWC. That’s a nod to the Little Prince character, who in the novel is a pilot and explorer (much like Antoine Exupéry himself), as well as the trademark blue cover of the novel (see photo below).
Most importantly, The Little Prince is close to my heart. A dear friend gave me a copy as a 21st birthday gift (coincidentally at a The Little Prince exhibition), and in it he wrote this quote: “Of course, an ordinary passer-by would think my rose looked just like you. But in herself she matters more than all of you together, since it is she that I watered; since it is she that I placed under the glass dome; since it is she whose caterpillars I killed…Since it is she that I listened to, when she complained, or boasted, or when she was simply being silent. Since it is she who was my rose.” To me, The Little Prince will always be a reminder of unsullied friendship. Consequently, whenever I wrist the IWC Mark XVIII Le Petit Prince, I’m constantly reminded of my dear friends around me, my pillars of support. It’s a timepiece that has personal significance, and one that I’m immensely happy to have in my collection.
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P.S.S.S Shiok is a common word Singaporeans use to express admiration or approval. As of 2016, you can find the definition of the word in the Oxford English Dictionary.