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Watches and Wonders 2023: IWC

The IWC ingenieur Automatic 40 in grade 5 titanium.

IWC revives Gérald Genta’s Ingenieur SL in the Ingenieur Automatic 40 with an in-house movement.

Gérald Genta. He’s the answer to every watch design question that’s emerged in modern times. From the creation of endless hits for his eponymous brand to the use of pop culture in watchmaking, Genta’s influence on modern watch design is impossible to measure. Especially today, when the sports-chic and sports-luxe watch has returned as the trend of the decade.

Genta worked with IWC 47 years ago to re-design its rugged watch model – the Ingenieur, the brand’s first automatic watch protected against magnetism with a soft-iron inner case. In true Genta fashion, the Ingenieur SL (Steel Line) had a standout visual identity compared with the rest of IWC’s Ingenieur models. The Ref. 1832 remains an icon in IWC’s history and one that’s beloved by collectors.

The IWC Ingenieur Automatic 40 in stainless steel with a black dial.
The IWC Ingenieur Automatic 40 in stainless steel with a black dial.

A Refreshed Ingenieur

A decade ago, IWC refreshed the Ingenieur with a full collection of three-hand and chronograph models. These all used the Ref. 1832 as their design basis. There were several different versions, including ceramic models. Now it’s revisiting this line with a second refresh, keeping close to the original Ingenieur SL designed by Genta.

Lead designer of IWC Christian Knoop has been very careful to consider what to preserve and what to re-engineer (pun intended) in the Ingenieur Automatic 40. The brand has kept the size at 40mm, with a lug-to-lug width at just under 46mm. That makes it very easy to wear even on a slim wrist. It’s also kept the bezel slightly smaller than the case middle, so the chamfered edge of the bezel leads into it. That makes the watch look smaller and different from the last refresh where the case middle and bezel were the same size.

The case and design of the IWC Ingenieur Automatic 40 has been improved for a better fit.
The case and design of the IWC Ingenieur Automatic 40 has been improved for a better fit.

On the bezel, the screws are now fixed in position, with the top screw aligned to the 12 o’clock marker. In the original Ref. 1832, this wasn’t the case. The checkerboard pattern of the dial on the original Ingenieur SL has also been revised to a repeating dot-and-dash pattern that somewhat reminds one of Morse code. It looks great, with arrow-style markers pointing inwards and coated with lume. A small date window is placed at 3 o’clock.

The improvements to the IWC Ingenieur Automatic 40 are subtle but important.
The improvements to the IWC Ingenieur Automatic 40 are subtle but important.

The most significant changes are on the bracelet. The middle link attachment, where it joins the case, has been re-designed to offer a better fit on the wrist, flexing more freely while keeping the shape of the watch. The case is mirror-polished on the angles and brushed on flat surfaces to create that sporty yet sophisticated look sports-luxe models share.

The movement powering this watch is the Calibre 32111, IWC’s in-house base movement that is also used in the Portofino and Aquatimer. It sits within a soft-iron inner case, retaining the core identity of the Ingenieur. It has a 120-hour power reserve and is self-winding.

The IWC Ingenieur Automatic 40 in grade 5 titanium, with a grey dial.
The IWC Ingenieur Automatic 40 in grade 5 titanium, with a grey dial.

Three dial variations of the watch exist, in black and silver, as well as a vivid aqua-green model. Another special version of the watch is in grade 5 titanium and features a grey dial, giving it a serious, adventure-ready look. It also features sandblasting on the watch case for that rugged vibe.

Unfortunately, these watches are limited in production for now; IWC has explained that they will only be offered to customers on request via its boutiques at the moment. Christian Knoop, creative director for IWC, explains that "we are taking the time to slowly scale up the production, so we're starting first with our own retail network and boutiques, and we'll observe how demand for the watch evolves before we take next steps". It’s unclear what the selection process is, although presumably, VIP customers will be given first dibs. So, if you want one, contact your nearest boutique agent today.

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Editor

Darren has been writing about, and admiring the craft of watchmaking for over a dozen years. He considers himself lucky to live in a golden age of horology, and firmly believes that the most difficult watches to design are the simplest and the most intriguing to discover.


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