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 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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
More details at iwc.com.