As seen in recent years, luxury sports watches with an integrated stainless steel bracelet are a favorite category in the world of watches. And although the IWC Ingenieur belongs to this category, its form and technology set it above the rest. Born in the 1950s, it was a watch that stood for progress. Its design has embodied this thinking since the 1970s, with its industrial, almost futuristic look.
2023 is the year in which the rich heritage of the Ingenieur takes its next step forward. Watches & Wonders 2023 saw the release of what many of us were waiting for – a new Ingenieur model. This new model masterfully continues the legacy of technical innovation and a legendary Genta design. It’s not a timepiece for the masses, but a watch for everyone who loves reliability, style, and precision. If you ask me, it’s the most beautiful statement piece for all of us who appreciate craftsmanship, love iconic design, and can’t wait to see what the future holds. Ready to discover the new IWC Ingenieur and its history?
The IWC Ingenieur: Origins
Protecting watches against magnetic fields – this was a major issue for IWC early on. The first anti-magnetic pocket watch was designed in 1887. Anti-magnetism became a significant issue during the Second World War. This was the era in which IWC became famous for its pilot’s watches, timepieces that not only needed to be highly legible, but able to withstand harsh cockpit conditions as well. One factor here, of course, was having a watch with a movement that would not be affected by magnetic fields during flights. Early watches used alloys for magnetic protection, later followed by soft iron cases that shielded the watch’s movement.
The 1950s saw renewed interest in watches that were protected against magnetic fields. This time around, however, the need wasn’t of a military nature, but instead a need for progress. The era called for a watch for those building and developing society, i.e. the engineers of the world. This led to the creation of the IWC Ingenieur, a watch that was perfect for industrial use. As an homage to humankind’s progress, the first model, the Ingenieur 666, used IWC’s first-ever automatic caliber. Its design was in keeping with its time. Although 1967 saw a slightly modernized, sportier version with the 866, the watch remained relatively ordinary-looking, and lacked any real industrially progressive character.
The IWC Ingenieur Gets Its Famous Design
It was clear that the watch needed a new design. Even the sportier Ingenieur 866 didn’t quite optically capture the watch’s true character. Although a number of relatively conservative attempts were made at a redesign, none of them achieved the desired outcome. The search was on for a new designer. Enter Gérald Genta, who had made a name for himself with his designs of the Patek Philippe Nautilus and Audemars Piguet Royal Oak. Following two years of work on its new look, the new Ingenieur was presented to the public in 1976.
The watch world was blown away, because Genta’s design for the new Ingenieur was unrecognizable when compared to the original. The timepiece now had sharp edges and a bold, industrial appearance that reflected the watch’s purpose of serving on the wrists of engineers. An iconic feature to this day are the five visible bezel screws which became the watch’s trademark, and a sign of its robust quality. These design changes, originally seen as risky, would go on to become a smash success, and part of the IWC Ingenieur’s DNA that continues to be found in this watch legend today.
The Ingenieur Makes History
The watch had to overcome an obstacle or two upon its release in 1976. Stainless steel luxury watches were anything but widely accepted, and high gold prices during this era meant that solid gold or two-tone Ingenieur models simply weren’t an option. Currency fluctuations and the quartz crisis during this time also made sales success difficult. IWC nevertheless held true to its Ingenieur – after all, this was a watch that held true to its values.
“1989 saw the release of the Ingenieur 500,000 A/m, whose extremely high level of magnetic resistance set a new world record. The Ingenieur Automatic AMG was released in 2005 to commemorate the 50-year anniversary of the Ingenieur. This watch was created together with Mercedes-AMG, limited to 250 pieces, and constructed of titanium and ceramic. Its design was inspired by the AMG Mercedes-Benz CLK DTM race car. 2013 saw the Ingenieur collection expanded upon with new complications, one highlight of which was without a doubt the Ingenieur Constant-Force Tourbillon and its patented constant-force mechanism integrated into the tourbillon, ensuring extremely precise timekeeping.
The IWC Ingenieur of Today & Tomorrow At Watches & Wonders 2023
The new Ingenieur release returns to its roots by uncompromisingly doing what it does best: serve as a watch for the shapers of our society. Even if it isn’t as popular as other timepieces in the IWC catalog, the Ingenieur best embodies what the brand is about: engineering spirit and progressive thinking. This was behind the decision with the new model: Don’t just copy past Genta designs, but instead update the Ingenieur to the present, and make it ready for everything the future may hold. With this in mind, its style can best be described as “retro futuristic.”
To be sure, the original design DNA is still clearly there. Enthusiasts, however, are sure to love the upgrades to this timepiece, especially when it comes to the ergonomics and dimensions, which deliver a much-improved wearing experience. The screws are optically bolder, helping emphasize the watch’s technical character. They actually have the functional role of securing the bezel to the watch case ring, as opposed to previous models, where the screws served only decorative purposes. One nice benefit of this is that they always remain in the same position.
Crown guards add a sporty touch to the new model. The dial is also going to turn a few heads, with its grid pattern noticeably finer than on previous models, and featuring a sunburst pattern. Look closely, and you’ll see how perfectly the pattern envelops the lettering on the dial. New techniques for polishing and finishing the dial also deliver a much finer appearance. Satinized surfaces, polished edges, solid bracelet links, and the classic IWC deployant clasp exude the luxury we expect from this brand.
Four references have been released. Three vary simply in their dial color, available in black, white, or aqua. The fourth reference features a titanium case and bracelet with a gray dial. This model is a great match with the IWC engineering spirit.
All models feature the in-house caliber 32111, which delivers 120 hours of power reserve. With 100 meters (10 bar, 328 feet) of water resistance, the IWC Ingenieur leaves nothing to be desired – and shows that this watch is more than ready for the challenges facing the creators of today and the future to come.