With the vintage market and auctions in full hype-mode these days, we often hear the words “unique” or “never-seen-before” to talk about a watch with one small detail to differentiate it from the rest of the crowd. However, we’re quite confident in saying that you’ve never seen what we’re about to show you: a truly unique, truly legit and truly interesting IWC Ingenieur 666A (the first generation of this model). And for once, we have all shreds of evidence that it was born this way, back in 1965, as a special order to IWC – and before you ask, no it isn’t for sale (or not yet, at least).
Not a standard IWC Ingenieur 666A
Just for the sake of comparison, we’d first like to show you what a regular IWC Ingenieur 666A looks like – see photo below. The IWC Ingenieur was introduced in 1954-55 under the references 666A and 666AD (the latter being the Date version). It featured the calibre 852 (for the 666A) or calibre 8521 (for the 666AD), both created under the direction of Albert Pellaton, who was IWC’s Technical Director since 1944 – famous for the creation of the Pellaton winding system.
As indicated by its name, the Ingenieur was a watch created for scientists, engineers, doctors and, on a larger scale, people working in magnetic environments. The movement was protected by a soft iron cage – the dial, the movement’s ring and the caseback cover created a protection against magnetic fields up to 80,000 amperes per meter (A/m).
As you can see, the IWC Ingenieur 666A (no-date version) was a rather elegant watch. Certainly not a proper dress watch but more suitable for a business environment than, for instance, a contemporary military IWC Mark XI (a watch created in 1948 for the Royal Air Force). We can spot luminous dauphine hands for the hours and minutes, a straight, thin seconds hand, pointy applied indices and dots for the minute track, including luminous dots every 5 minutes. Now that you know what a “normal” Ingenieur 666A looks like, let’s look at Stefan’s unique piece.
A unique, nude Ingenieur 666A
There’s a lot to say about this watch but before we focus on the story behind its creation, let’s discover why it is a unique version of the Ingenieur 666A.
As you can see, the watch that we’re presenting you today is far from being a regular version of the IWC Ingenieur 666A. Gone are the applied indices, the minute track – in fact, there is nothing else on the dial than the brand’s logo at 12 o’clock, the model’s logo at 6 o’clock and the inevitable “Swiss” mention at the bottom of the dial. It basically is a nude (not so practical, to be honest) version of this watch. However, thanks to this utterly clean display, it looks rather fascinating, and the speckled dial looks almost like the shell of an ostrich’s egg.
Another important difference compared to the regular production model is the absence of the central seconds hand, as this watch is a time-only, 2-hander version. Finally, the hands have also been changed, not only in shape but also in colour. From the words of the current owner, Stefan, the hands have been stolen from an IWC Mark XI pilot’s watch and filled with black paint – which are named “extra black heavy hands” by IWC itself – creating a great contrast with the rest of the dial – which was silvery-white when new but that obviously aged to become cream-coloured.
The watch is finally fitted with its original Fixoflex bracelet (a trendy style back in the 1960s), even though worn on a leather strap on the photos. For the rest, the watch remains identical to a regular production version of the Ingenieur 666A, with the same polished and brushed case, highly domed plexiglass on top of the dial and the calibre 852 with Pellaton winding system ticking inside the watch.
What’s the story behind this unique IWC Ingenieur 666A
While there are often doubts about the originality of such unique watches – which can often be prototypes that were not intended to be sold – the present IWC Ingenieur 666A is 1. truly unique, 2. entirely legit, and 3. we have the full story and documentation to make our point.
The story of this watch starts in the Netherlands when a collector asked his local watch retailer – in this case, van Hattum in The Hague (now Steltman Watches) – for a unique, nude version of the IWC 666A. Considering the good relation the retailer had with the Schaffhausen-based brand at that time, the manufacture agreed to create this watch – which was, even back then, an exceptionally rare opportunity offered by IWC. A funny fact is that this watch was a special request of an actual engineer to create his own Ingenieur watch.
The watch is still accompanied with its original documents, attesting a delivery date on June 16th, 1965 – with matching numbers between the lugs and on papers (hidden here, for obvious reasons). Also included in the documentation is a letter from the retailer, which explains all the differences included on this watch. Interesting is that even the envelope with its original stamp has been retained and all the dates are coherent.
This letter, in Dutch here, proves that the watch was a special request and not a prototype. In short, it says “thank you for your order of a steel gents IWC watch type Ingenieur 666A, with an all white dial without any signs, other than the IWC logo and the name Ingenieur, no second hand and with extra black heavy hands and fitted with a steel Fixoflex bracelet“. Also, it indicates that such unique versions usually come with extra costs but here IWC charged the normal retail price, meaning 346 Dutch guilders, which means approximately EUR 160 – watches were much cheaper back then…
We’d like to thank German collector Stefan, the current owner of this unique IWC Ingenieur 666A, for sharing his story with us.