Last year, same moment of the year, same place, IWC introduced what we thought would remain some limited edition watches, the 3 Ingenieur Chronograph Special Editions for Goodwood. Well, it seems that reactions of collectors were good – and we have to agree with them, these watches, with their vintage-inspired design, echoing the first versions of the Ingenieur, and their brand new in-house chronograph movement, had some arguments. Based on these concepts, it’s now an entire collection of retro-inspired Ingenieur watches (automatic, chronographs, QP…) that IWC is about to introduce at the 2017 Goodwood Members’ Meeting.
The whole concept behind this IWC Ingenieur 2017 Collection is a re-interpretation of the very first Ingenieur collection introduced in 1955. A bit over 60 years ago, the Schaffhausen-based manufacture launched a watch made accordingly to the evolution of the society. The 1950s were characterised by a period of economic upturn and rapid technological developments. New devices such as radio and television receivers were adopted, and the first electronic calculators began to appear on the market. Many of these devices generated magnetic elds that had a negative impact on the precision of mechanical watches. Also, engineers and scientists were exposed to these kinds of magnetic fields more than most due to the nature of their work. Here are the main reasons why IWC had the idea to develop a new watch family that would offer effective protection against magnetic fields: the Ingenieur line.
The first IWC Ingenieur, the ref. 666
The collection was unveiled in 1955, with the reference 666. This watch protected its movement against magnetic fields, thanks to a soft-iron cage. Also, it was the first to use the self-winding system developed by Albert Pellaton, IWC’s Technical Director at the time. Pellaton’s winding system transformed the rotational movements of the rotor into an oscillating motion, allowing the bidirectional rotational movements of the rotor to be used for tensioning the mainspring. The Ref. 666 was a visually simple, almost minimalistic watch with 3-hands and date. Later, in 1967, IWC introduced its successor, the ref. 866, which will even enhance this uncluttered approach of the design, focused mainly on functionality. These two watches, with their characteristic “simple” design and rectangular hands and indexes are now re-interpreted into a brand new collection, the retro-inspired 2017 IWC Ingenieur, comprising 4 different watches.
The IWC Ingenieur Automatic 40mm
As the cornerstone of this new collection, IWC presents a simple 3-hand version of the Ingenieur, small by the size, strong by the reference to the antique models. The first thing to know about this version of the new IWC Ingenieur is that it is both faithful in terms of design but also extremely restrained in terms of proportions. While IWC was usually more on the robust size of watchmaking, they showed a strong evolution since a few years, with the introduction of “reduced” watches – see the 40mm Pilot Mark XVIII for instance). This Ingenieur Automatic follows the same path and comes in a reasonably sized case – 40mm x 10.5mm.
As for the dials, the resemblance with the old Ingenieur watches is also quite blatant. We find back the same minimalistic and functional look – slightly modernized though – a sleek face without excessive inscriptions and these typical rectangular indexes combined with luminous dots. 3 versions will be available: stainless with silver-plated dial, rhodium plated hands and black strap (IW357001), stainless steel with black dial, rhodium plated hands and metallic bracelet (IW357002) and finally 18 red gold case with slate-coloured dial, gold-plated hands, solid red gold appliqués on the dial and black strap (IW357003).
Inside the case is the calibre 35111, an automatic movement with reliable architecture, beating at 4Hz and offering 42h of power reserve. The caseback is closed and the watch water resistant to 120m. Two small regrets concerning this new IWC Ingenieur Automatic 40mm: we would have love to see the vintage logo with lightning on the dial and a beads of rice bracelet (like some of the vintage versions). Still, this watch remains a nice and perfectly proportioned option.
The IWC Ingenieur Chronograph
The new Ingenieur collection also welcomes a chronograph, based on the 3 watches that IWC introduced last year as limited editions. Basically, same case, same movement, same dimensions, yet with different dials and the apparition of a bracelet on the stainless steel versions. This chronograph version shares with the Ingenieur Automatic many elements, starting with its rather vintage-inspired case. It uses the same shape, with a large polished bezel, squared-lugs and vertically brushed casebands. Yet, the diameter is here increased to integrate the chronograph display and its movement.
As said, the 2017 IWC Ingenieur Chronograph is basically a visual update of the 2016 limited editions, differentiating by the dial colors. The technical base remains identical. 3 versions will be available: stainless steel with silver-plated dial, gold-plated hands and appliqués and steel bracelet (IW380801), stainless steel with blue dial, rhodium-plated hands and appliqués and steel bracelet (IW380802) and 18k red gold with slate-coloured dial, gold-plated hands, solid red gold appliqués and black strap (IW380803). All three are 42mm in diameter and 15mm thick. They can withstand 120m of water and feature an open back, in order to admire their recently presented chronograph movement.
This 2017 IWC Ingenieur Chronograph features the latest movement developed by IWC and introduced on last year’s limited editions, the Calibre 69375 – fully explained here. The new chronograph movement has been designed and developed from scratch. It has to be seen as a robust, standard movement that can be produced in larger quantities meeting consistent quality standards. It has been conceived to become the new “entry-level” chronograph of the brand (replacing In the long term the 7750-based movements), yet it features interesting technical solutions. First of all, it is a fully integrated calibre (the chronograph is part of the movement, not added to it), with automatic winding and chronograph functions actuated by the mean of a column-wheel. It runs at a modern 4Hz frequency and boats 46h of power reserve. Furthermore, its execution is much nicer than a standard movement. Entry level at IWC doesn’t mean low-end…
The IWC Ingenieur Chronograph Sport
Alongside these regular chronographs, the new IWC collection will also comprise a 500-piece limited edition “Chronograph Sport”. While at first rather close in terms of design to the other chronographs, this watch differs in many ways. First of all, it case is larger, at 44mm, and made in grade 5 titanium. It also looks more robust and sportier, with for instance the use of a crown-protection device. This limited version of the IWC Ingenieur also adopts a darker look, with the combination of a black dial and strap.
Inside its case is the in-house and high-end calibre 89361, with automatic winding, display of the chronograph hours and minutes in a single sub-dial at 12 and flyback function. Just like the vintage versions, a soft-iron cage protects the movement against the negative influence of magnetic fields. 2 small details gives a great appeal to this watch: the lightning-style hand for the small second at 6 and the vintage “Ingenieur” logo at 3, next to the date window. Definitely a desirable edition.
The IWC Ingenieur Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month
Last but not least, as often in their collections, IWC will also present a highly-limited and complex version of its new Ingenieur 2017: a Chronograph Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month. This watch is based on a movement and a display that we already know at IWC, yet slightly redesigned in this Ingenieur context, to better fit with the vintage inspiration. Indeed, while using two double windows with jumping numerals at 3 and 9 for both the months and the date, IWC has created some sub-dials and not rectangular apertures, like with other watches with this movement.
The rest of the display is classical: hours, minutes and chronograph seconds in the center, chronograph hours and minutes in a single sub-dial at 12, small second and leap year indication at 6. The movement to drive this perpetual flyback calendar chronograph is the calibre 89800, here decorated with a gold rotor. This IWC Ingenieur Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month has a 45mm x 17.5mm 18k red gold case, with silver-plated dial, black hands and appliqués, and a black alligator leather strap. it will be limited to 100 pieces only.
More details later, with an upcoming hands-on article and on iwc.com.