Monochrome Watches
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A Personal Take On The Titanium IWC Ingenieur Automatic 40

We had to call it the "MONOCHROME Watch"

| By Brice Goulard | 6 min read |
2023 Genta-Style IWC Ingenieur Automatic 40 Titanium IW328904

If you’re into watches, you’re most certainly aware of the comeback of the IWC Ingenieur… And I mean by that, the return to the beloved integrated style designed by Gérald Genta in 1976, not the slightly disappointing collection that has been available from 2016 to earlier this year. Not only the comeback of the integrated Ingenieur was one of the worst-kept secrets of the industry, but it’s also one of the most discussed launched of Watches and Wonders 2023. We’ve extensively looked at the 3 steel models that form the core collection, but IWC had one last trick under its sleeve for us, one that we couldn’t see in advance, the Titanium IWC Ingenieur Automatic 40. And yes, in many regards, it is special. 

Very quick recap. The IWC Ingenieur collection was born in the mid-1950s as a watch dedicated to people working in magnetic environments – the main specificity of the reference 666 was its movement protected by a soft-iron cage, something that will always define the collection. First a rather elegant, round and ultimately classic watch, things will change drastically in 1976 when, with the help of genius designer Genta, the watch will take the shape we most often associated it with now; the Ingenieur SL Jumbo reference 1832. The third “luxury sports” integrated design of Genta, next to the RO and Nautilus, it was characterized by its round bezel with 5 screws, its grid pattern on the dial and its overall thickness, again due to the Faraday cage inside. This style, in multiple iterations, will go on until the late 1990s.

The steel edition of the IWC Ingenieur Automatic 40, here with a black dial.

The integrated-style IWC Ingenieur will come back in 2005, with the reference 3227, a big, sharp and bold modernized edition. In 2013, the IWC Ingenieur will again be revamped, with the introduction of the reference 3239; smaller and thinner, with a 40mm diameter and 10mm height, and slightly more refined. But once again, it was discontinued in 2017, being replaced by a not-that-successful attempt to recreate the original 1950s style. This style is gone, and for the third time now, the original SL Jumbo look by Genta is revived.

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2023 Genta-Style IWC Ingenieur Automatic 40 Titanium IW328904

As we’ve seen with the 3 stainless steel editions of this new IWC Ingenieur Automatic 40, we’re certainly talking about the best re-edition so far. The 2005 and 2013 models were nice watches, no debate. The 2023 Ingenieur is better than that. Perfect? No, it isn’t, but it does look and feel very good, and it wears like a charm. IWC almost entirely nailed it. Except that, there’s actually a fourth model in the collection, which makes it, at least for us here at MONO, even better. We’re talking about the titanium Ingenieur reference IW328904… A watch that we’ve decided to name the MONOCHROME edition – no, we have nothing to do with its conception, and no we’re not able to get you one, but even Christoph Grainger-Herr, CEO of IWC, somehow agreed with this statement in our interview

Why titanium…? Well, many reasons. First of all, there have been titanium examples of the Genta-designed Ingenieur in the past. Second, titanium is a signature material for the Schaffhausen-based brand, which has built so many titanium watches in the past, together with Porsche Design. And, in any case, a titanium luxury sports watch is always something special and rather cool. So, why not?

2023 Genta-Style IWC Ingenieur Automatic 40 Titanium IW328904

Compared to the steel models, not much changes. Design, proportions, case? Identical, with a classic tonneau shape, raised bezel with 5 functional screws (always at the right position), crown guards on the right, screw-down crown, curved profile from 12 to 6 o’clock, relatively slim case and short watch on the wrist – 40mm diameter x 10.7mm height, 45.7mm lug-to-lug. The back is solid titanium and screwed, water-resistance is 100m. And the design is, without a doubt, the best of all Ingenieur watches – and I’m including into this the original SL Jumbo reference 1832, which was far from a refined watch, and not a joy to wear either. The work done by IWC this year is making this new model far more wearable, much better finished, and overall brilliantly looking.

2023 Genta-Style IWC Ingenieur Automatic 40 Titanium IW328904

The main difference for this Titanium reference IW328904 is the material and the choice of colours. The entire case is now made of grade 5 titanium, with a surprising combination of sand-blasted finishing on the flat surfaces, polished bevels on the edges and brushed surfaces on the sides. That matte finish on top contrast very nicely with the polished accents and somehow reminds me of the texture of old Porsche Design x IWC watches – and that ranks high in my books. And because of that, it feels drastically different from the steel models, having an oddly-cool personality on the wrist, playing differently with the ambient light and having a bit of shimmer under the sun. Pretty cool.

2023 Genta-Style IWC Ingenieur Automatic 40 Titanium IW328904

And of course, the use of titanium for the case, caseback, crown, bezel and bracelet (the latter being finished exactly like the case) means that this Ingenieur Automatic 40 Titanium is much lighter on a daily basis. The steel versions were already very pleasant, this titane model is greater still.

The other update concerns the dial. Still a soft iron blank that has been stamped with a grid pattern, the galvanisation process here results in a tone-on-tone grey colour (it is slightly darker than the silvery-white dial of the steel version), and it features blackened hands and markers, still with luminous inserts.

2023 Genta-Style IWC Ingenieur Automatic 40 Titanium IW328904

Movement-wise, no evolution. Under the soft-iron anti-magnetic cover is still the calibre 32111, a Valfleurier-based automatic movement with pawl winding system, 4Hz frequency and 5-day power reserve. And the bracelet, if it looks and feels very good, lacks two features in our opinion; micro-adjustment and quick-release.

2023 Genta-Style IWC Ingenieur Automatic 40 Titanium IW328904

So overall, with the relatively generic movement and small issues with the bracelet apart, this Titanium IWC Ingenieur Automatic 40 is an absolute winner. I personally love it. But there’s something that cannot be hidden; its price. At EUR 15,800 or CHF 15,000, it doesn’t come cheap. I understand that titanium requires a premium over the 3 other versions, but these steel models were already rather expensive. And now, it also competes with other watches such as the Alpine Eagle 41mm.

2023 Genta-Style IWC Ingenieur Automatic 40 Titanium IW328904

Now, I’ll let you decide if its very cool design, its great comfort on the wrist, its cool matte titanium effect, its heritage, or the connection with Genta justify this price or not. One side note; as with the steel models, this IWC Ingenieur Automatic 40 Titanium IW328904 is a boutique-only edition but it’ll have an even more exclusive production. I’m thus not too worried about the fact that they will sell faster than expected. I mean, this Titanium Ingenieur really feels fantastic. A home run, almost…

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23 responses

  1. This watch is completely overpriced. The price tag with 15800 € is a joke. Not only for this titanium model but also the 12600 € requested for the steel version…Just remember : it’s exactly the same movement in the IWC mark XX with a 6500 € price tag and even in Baume & Mercier Baumatic.

  2. The steel versions are already quite expensive. everything has been said about the supposed lower grade movement used which cannot justify the price. for the steel version another clasp with microadjustment can be ordered. for the titanium version there is none (materia and color wise) matching. I looked at videos for this line for days. but now could not convince myself to buy any model. somehow IWC always falls short with me.

  3. Hard pass,
    I’ll stick to my vintage non jumbo Ingenieur SL which in my opinion is just perfect on every standpoint.
    The pricing of this new version is just too damn high. IWC can try and hype it all they want, nothing can justify the price they are selling it at…

  4. It seems the Richemont group is always trying to test what they can get away with… completely unfinished movements, downgrading movements, downgrading water resistance, snap back casebacks on dive watches, 40% price hikes… etc etc

  5. You rationalize and justify and minimize the outrageous price for this watch from IWC. How embarrassing to read through this diatribe. How can you? Or did they make a gift of it to you for the review? Sure looks that way.

  6. Overdue and Overpriced like so many watches on the market now.
    I’d buy a Tissot PRX before I bought one of these and not because I couldn’t afford it. I just think it isn’t worth the money for what you get.

  7. Very nice watch, reading and technical stats until I got to that one stat.
    The price!
    I understand MSRP and profit but really ? !

  8. If it wasn’t for that dial it would be a nice looking watch. It’s not worth anything like that price though. Perhaps they are following the Rolex model, just keep pushing the prices up until people stop buying, seems to work for them because they keep selling.

  9. I agree with most shocking price. This looks great though , seems well rounded and huge. The pictures may not do it justice as it looks too big for the wrist, which it turn makes it look clunky. So unfortunately not for me.

  10. Why is the watch pictured so far down the author’s wrist? That can’t be comfortable and it certainly isn’t how most people wear watches.

  11. @matthew – the watches that we can photograph during events such as Watches & Wonders, or other press presentations are never sized to our wrists (specifically my tiny wrists) but are left voluntarily large, so most people can try them. Hence why the position is never correct – we often have to cheat, by placing some foam on the back of the wrist to keep the watches in place. So please don’t mind this position, it isn’t relevant.

  12. Ridiculous pricing! 8,000 would have been pushing it, but about acceptable. 12 is outrageous and charging an extra 3000 for a titanium model is unfathomable, it is really taking the hiss! There is usually a premium for titanium, 4 or 500 is acceptable, 3000 on a watch that is already over priced is disgusting! As an IWC fan for years, I am now and ex IWC fan!

  13. @ct79: “another clasp with microadjustment can be ordered”, -really? In my experience, owning an older ingenieur, IWC only changes the whole bracelet (2000 EUR…). One should not expect to be able to change any parts on this watch. At least not when a newer model has been introduced and IWC wish you to buy new instead of repairing the old one…

  14. IWC will loose goodwill over this pricing and deservedly so. The price is downright offensive and indicative of a contemptuous attitude towards their clientele. Perhaps 7k for Ti and 6k for steel. And that would be a lot, though reasonable for a good piece of design (the watch is little more). Irrespective of wealth, no-one wants to be played and ripped off… But this appears to be the Richemont playbook.

  15. Chiming as another person outraged by the price. Wonder if IWC will walk it down to say 8500?

    I mean it’s all over the internet. Everyone except journalists covering their behinds are saying the price is way too high.

  16. The kings of outhouse: Tudor/Breitling/Norqain/Bell&Ross/Chanel/TAG Horror all by Kenissi and Richemont’s VC56/IWC Eng by Val Fleurier!

  17. Time will tell if the perceived inflated price will cannibalize the model line, however, it seems IWC has grand plans for this watch w/additional models to come in the future. You know a future Chronograph will be on offer and probably a perpetual calendar. After speaking with a good friend of mine and manager at the IWC boutique here in southern California, there are no shortage of pre-orders for both the SS and Ti models. The internet community can bitch and moan all day long about the price and movement choice but it seems the consumer community is laying down their AMEX.


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