The inaugural race of the 2013 Formula One season took place at Albert Park, Melbourne on the 17th March 2013. It looks like it is going to be another exceedingly competitive year, where success or failure, can come down to a few fractions of a second. A rain-soaked qualifying session on the Saturday was prematurely curtailed. The track was water-logged and confined the cars to the pit-lane for the bulk of the scheduled qualifying session. Unusually, the balance of the qualifying took place on the morning of the race. Drivers would trade tenths of a second to gain a prominent location on the starting grid. The two front row positions were decided by less than half of a second, remarkable when you consider a lap is 3.295 miles.
Competitive advantage can be determined by the smallest of margins. Teams expend many man-hours in the relentless pursuit of superior performance. Exhaustive tests take place in the wind tunnel to optimise the trade-off between downforce and drag. Space age materials are sought to mitigate weight whilst retaining rigidity and strength. It comes as no surprise that in their pursuit of performance, companies seek synergies and alliances are formed. Indeed, MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS Formula One Team and IWC Schaffhausen have commenced a three year engineering partnership where information is shared.
IWC is well known for its insatiable appetite for engineering excellence. Therefore, it was inevitable that with its masculine persona and expertise, use of cutting-edge materials, such as ceramics and carbon-fibre, IWC would eventually enter the octane fueled world of Formula One. The Ingenieur is this year’s motorsport inspired collection from Schaffhausen. It takes inspiration from the historic model of the 1950s, but embraces the modernity exampled along the pit lane. If ever there was a watch that was the perfect metaphor for competitive wheel to wheel action, then it has to be the Ingenieur Double Chronograph Titanium. Formed of titanium and designed for measuring crucial lap times, the watch is perfectly at ease with the intended symbolism.
The silver tincture matches the gleaming bodywork of the cars driven by Hamilton and Rosberg on race weekend. It proffers a cool canvas to display time, providing welcome respite from the rising cockpit temperatures. The hour and minute hands are partially open-worked, with apertures adjacent their fulcrum. The tips are solid and lined with luminous material.
Hours are marked with black batons with luminous centres. They confer information with brevity and clarity facilitating user-friendly, expedient read-off. At 3 o’clock, the day and date are presented in two adjacent apertures.
A 12-hour chrono counter is located at 6 o’clock. At the centre of the subdial, text confers the water resistance of the timepiece, 12 bar (120 metres). The hand on the chrono- counter is black and tipped with a luminous equilateral triangle. A similar 30-minute chrono counter resides opposite, below noon. It shares the design language of the 12-hour chrono counter but features a hand which jumps in discrete one- minute stages.
Subsidiary seconds are located at 9 o’clock. The seconds hand includes a hacking seconds facility, a feature found on many of the historical IWC timepieces which punctuate its history including the iconic pilot’s watches of the 1930s and 40s.
This timepiece is a split seconds chronograph, sometimes referred to as a rattrapante or doppelchrono. Unlike a standard chronograph, the split seconds chronograph has two hands that start simultaneously. The split seconds hand, which is superimposed on the stopwatch hand, can be stopped independently by pressing a third push button at 10 o’clock, meanwhile the stop watch hand continues to run.
This complication allows the wearer to time two separate events precisely. If the third push button is pressed again, the split seconds hand immediately catches up with the stop watch hand and continues to run in tandem.
The watch has generous proportions with a diameter of 45mm and case height of 16mm. Some watches of this size can have a crown and protruding pushers, which gouge or chafe the flexed wrist. However, the smooth and discreet profile of the items found on this model mitigate the risk of abrasion. They are made of titanium but coated in black rubber.
￼Titanium is one of the materials that IWC have embraced with the Ingenieur collection. It is a material which is strong, yet light. These qualities have seen it used successfully in the aerospace and medical industry as well as Formula One. In the case of watch manufacturing, other qualities make it highly desirable. It is corrosion resistant, anti-magnetic and skin friendly.
The bezel features five black screws holding it in position. I am sure it is no accident, they resemble the bolts found on the eight cylinder Mercedes powerplant, which will hopefully power my compatriot Lewis Hamilton to victory this season.
The omission of a sapphire caseback is disappointing. Whilst several models within the Ingenieur range afford a view of the movement within, the Double Chronograph Titanium deprives the wearer the spectacle of seeing the horological engine.
The rubber strap matches the finish of the pushers and crown and confers a contemporary character to the watch. The titanium pin buckle completes the resolved assemblage of parts and reinforces the watches harmonious appeal.
The self-winding Calibre 79420 has a power reserve of 44 hours, 29 jewels and a frequency of 28,800 vph. However, it is the split-seconds chronograph which is the most appealing aspect of the specification.
A split-seconds chronograph is difficult to execute. The tolerances are small. The gap between the split-seconds hand and the stop watch hand is miniscule, creating the illusion there is only one hand, until the pusher at 10 o’clock is pressed. This is elevated watchmaking necessitating the skill of an accomplished watchmaker.
The Ingenieur Double Chronograph Titanium has much virtue and may well prove a championship winner for the brand from Schaffhausen. However, as any competitor will attest there are no guarantees for podium success.
In life some things are more certain. I do like this watch. It has much to recommend it. I appreciate the blend of legibility, handsome looks and the split seconds complication. Yet, most of all I admire the successful blend of titanium and rubber which confers modernity and style in abundance.
￼Technical Specification – IWC Ingenieur Double Chronograph Titanium (ref. IW386501)
- Case: Titanium; diameter 45.00 mm; height 16.00 mm; water resistant to 12 bar (120 metres); sapphire crystal to front and solid caseback.
- Functions: Hours; minutes; subsidiary seconds; date; day; split-seconds chronograph.
- Movement: Calibre 79420, self-winding; frequency 28,800vph (4Hz); 29 jewels; power reserve 44 hours.
- Strap: Black rubber strap on titanium pin buckle