IWC Introduces the Ingenieur Automatic 40

A return to form, in steel or titanium.

After years in the doldrums – and several unsuccessful reboots – the Ingenieur has been given a much-needed refresh inside and out. The IWC Ingenieur 40 emulates many of the best characteristics of the original Ingenieur SL from 1976 that was famously designed by Gérald Genta, but adds a proprietary automatic movement into the mix.

Initial Thoughts

While there was nothing wrong with the outgoing Ingenieur ref. IW3570, it was uninspired and lacked the charisma found in the original 1976 designs. Unsurprisingly, it failed to resonate with buyers who increasingly favoured sports watches with integrated bracelets.

The ref. IW328903 features an aqua dial and a bracelet with polished center links

The resulting surge in demand for integrated-bracelet sports watches was a trend that IWC missed out on since the last Ingenieur with an integrated bracelet was the ref. IW3239 discontinued in 2017.

With everyone else launching an integrated-bracelet sports watch, it seemed inevitable that IWC would eventually refresh the Ingenieur and bring back the original design. In this context, the launch of the Ingenieur 40 is welcome, even if it does feel slightly anti-climactic. 

The Ingenieur ref. IW328902 in steel with a silver-plated dial

The new Ingenieur is essentially a blend of the 1976 original and the more recent integrated-bracelet models. The design appears thoughtful. For example, the bezel with five notches from the original returns, but with a twist (no pun intended). While the original had a screw-down bezel (hence the notches) and the misalignment to prove it, the bezel on the new model is fixed and secured with five functional bolts, preserving the aesthetic while ensuring symmetry. 

Attention was evidently paid ergonomics since the case has compact dimensions with a diameter-to-height that’s more or less in the goldilocks zone for a sports watch. More significant however is the short lug-to-lug length of just 45.7 mm. These dimensions should enable the watch to wear comfortably on most wrists. 

That said, the design and dimensions mean the watch looks a little smaller than it is. Though has the same diameter as the Royal Oak Jumbo, it feels smaller and is definitely thicker.

The ref. IW328904 in titanium with a grey dial

Of the four variants available at launch, the green “aqua” dial is certainly the most striking, but the model in titanium is the most appealing. Matte and monochromatic, it feels like what the Ingenieur should be, a low-key, functional watch.

Price-wise, the Ingenieur is competitive. At CHF12,000 in steel, it’s priced slightly less than the immediate competition in the integrated-bracelet category, namely the Chopard Alpine Eagle and Girard-Perregaux Laureato, which is fair since its rivals have more sophisticated movements.

That said, the Ingenieur costs substantially more than comparably magnetism-resistant watches like the Rolex Milgauss and Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra. It’s also nearly double the price of IWC’s own Mark XX pilot’s watch, which shares the same movement and specs but in combination with a less elaborately constructed case and bracelet. Its value proposition varies depending on the comparison.

Overall, the Ingenieur 40 is a welcome addition that strengthens IWC’s line-up of sports watches. It is a technically competent and distinctive alternative to the competition.

Form over function – the Ingenieur bracelet tapers elegantly, but the butterfly clasp lacks the micro-adjustment feature found on IWC’s latest Pilot’s Watches

Soft iron and hard titanium

The original Ingenieur’s raison d’être was resistance to magnetism, something of a fad in mid-20th century watchmaking. Like other magnetism-resistant watches of the period, the original was fitted with a soft iron inner case that acts as a Faraday cage. The new model has not forgotten this important legacy, and is similarly equipped. In fact, the dial itself is made from soft iron, creating a shield between the movement and magnetic fields that might otherwise have a deleterious effect on timekeeping.

The Ingenieur SL ref. 1832, designed by Gérald Genta and introduced in 1976. Image – IWC

But as historically correct as this may be, the soft-iron cage is anachronistic. Other brands, notably Omega and Tudor, have achieved far more in terms of magnetism resistance as a result of substantial technical innovation, mostly through the use of nonmagnetic alloys in the movement itself. Such alloys obviate the need for a soft iron inner case, enabling these brands to offer magnetism-resistant watches with transparent case backs. 

The Ingenieur 40 will be available in four references – three in stainless steel and one in titanium – all sharing the same case measuring 40 mm wide and 10.8 mm thick that contains a soft-iron inner cage.

All references also have the same dial, albeit in different colours. It’s is stamped with an enlarged and modernised version of the basketweave pattern used for the Ingenieur SL. The larger pattern looks good, calling to mind the grande tapisserie motif of Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore.

Under the solid back (and the soft-iron inner back) is the cal. 32111. It offers a power reserve of 120 hours, a meaningful upgrade over the 42 hours of the cal. 35111 (essentially a Sellita SW300-1) in the outgoing Ingenieur. While the extended power reserve comes at the detriment of balance power, it likely results in a better overall ownership experience for collectors who rotate watches. 

The cal. 32111 is proprietary but not exactly in-house, rather it is a variant of a movement created by ValFleurier, the movement factory owned by Richemont, the parent of IWC as well as brands like Cartier and Panerai. It’s a workhorse calibre for entry-level models, explaining in part the relatively accessible price of the new Ingenieur.

The solid case back conceals the soft iron inner case and cal. 32111 within

Key facts and price

IWC Ingenieur 40
Ref. IW328901 (Stainless steel and black dial)
Ref. IW328902 (Stainless steel and silver-plated dial)
Ref. IW328903 (Stainless steel and aqua dial)
Ref. IW328904 (Grade 5 titanium and grey dial)

Diameter: 40 mm
Height: 10.8 mm
Material: Stainless steel or grade 5 titanium
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 100 m

Movement: Cal. 32111
Features: Hours, minutes, central hacking seconds, and date
Frequency:  28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Winding: Automatic
Power reserve: 120 hours

Strap: Matching bracelet

Limited edition: No
Available at IWC boutiques and
Price: Steel – CHF12,000 or 17,300 Singapore dollars; Titanium – CHF15,000 or 21,700 Singapore dollars

Prices include local taxes

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