“Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without.” – Confucius

Year of the Ingenieur by IWC Schaffhausen

IWC Schaffhausen dedicated their appearance at the 2023 Watches and Wonders to the determination of engineers and the ingenuity of designers leading the attention to the descendant of their all time icon, the Ingenieur. We discovered the new Ingenieur Automatic 40 models (and a few Pilots) in the lab-inspired booth.

Figures dressed in white cloaks occupied IWC Schaffhausen’s show floor at this year’s Watches and Wonders. True to the professional uniform, some were actually engineers, while most of them were hostesses with an encouraging smile. As opposed to last year’s tall, vertically expanding hangar with containers stretching over several floors, the booth in 2023 ran flat and long. With its interior it gave the impression of a massive lab and exhibition room with objects evoking the age of the Cold War-accelerated technical leapfrog that coincided with the heydays of modern design. Testing devices, picture tube monochrome televisions, furniture (by Vitra), some retro IBM computers with twin 1.44 floppy disk slots were all there, along with the four-wheel highlight of the scene: a Mercedes-Benz C 111-III borrowed for the week from the company’s motorsport partner. It is one of the two 228 hp turbo-diesel pieces ever produced from this fantastic shaped fiberglass race car, the sleekness of which resulted in an astonishing 0.191 air drag coefficient.

IWC’s initial Ingenieur (ref. 666) was born at the beginning of this era in 1954 (sales began in 1955), when the race for speed, the poles, depths, heights, space…so basically everything had greatly driven most developments of humankind and consequently brought alive some of the most astonishing designs and crazy engineering works ever accomplished. Tool watches were required to guarantee accuracy under previously unconsidered circumstances such as increased electric and magnetic fields, which led to the appearance of the inner iron-cased IWC’s Ingenieur and rivals like the Rolex Milgauss.

The Ingenieur, originally designed by Albert Pellaton had been in production in multiple references with and without date for two decades, when in 1976 IWC hired Gérard Genta to draw up the new generation of the model. In line with the sports watch design revolution he started, the Ingenieur SL (ref. 1832) became a 40mm barrel cased, screwed down bezel, integrated bracelet steel timepiece (hence the ‘SL’ referring to steel line) with a black checkerboard pattern dial. Multiple iterations with mechanical and quartz movements, different case sizes (25mm – 40mm), materials (steel, gold, titanium) and decorations (diamonds) and even complications (perpetual calendar, chronograph) were produced throughout the years. With all these iterations, the original character of the Ingenieur was a bit lost, I think.

Form und Technik – the 2023 Ingenieur Automatic 40

Reinforcing IWC’s belief in the unity of Form und Technik, the manufacture returned to the roots of Gérard Genta’s charismatic Ingenieur and showcased the once life-saving technical timepiece in the dimensions he originally designed. Three new references share not only the 40mm diameter considered ‘Jumbo’ in the seventies, but also steel as the material. A fourth model was presented in titanium. Having lost the steel bracelet over the years, IWC reintroduces the integrated H-link version similar to the original, yet implementing it less roundly and with bevelling around the edges. The size, the shape and the 45.7 mm short distance between the lugs makes the novelty a charm to wear, especially if you put on the grade 5 titanium version, which weighs ca. a third less than the steel. 

All four new references have a different dial colour which comes over a ‘grid’ dial that elaborates on the original checkerboard pattern. The grid is created by stamping the soft iron blank before galvanisation and it consists of lines and dots. Three out of the four references operate in the range of the grayscales (causing no heart attack as a good tool watch would be), while the ‘aqua’ turquoise blue of the fourth garners the most attention. The marriage of structure of the contrasting, vivid colours makes this piece probably the most interesting.

The cal. 32111 movement was placed within the soft iron cage. The cage remained for greater anti-magnetism as well as a tribute, although the movement has antimagnetic silicon components providing better magnetic resistance than in the seventies. The 32000 calibre family is derived from the ETA 2892 and interestingly, its original 72 hours power reserve got beefed up to 120 hours.

The 2023 Ingenieur is a watch with character that gives IWC a good chance to win over hearts beating for steel-integrated bracelet timepieces.

Pilot’s Watch Chronograph 41 TOP GUN ‘Oceana’ and other novelties

Talking about colours, following the introduction of the 41mm ‘Woodland’ and ‘Lake Tahoe’ coloured ceramic TOP GUN editions IWC co-created with Pantone® last year, the collaboration continued in 2023 with the Chronograph 41 TOP GUN ‘Oceana’ blue model. Yes, a blue ceramic 44.5mm Pilot’s Watch Chronoghraph already existed in the portfolio with a slightly more vivid blue and yellow accents dedicated to the U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron ‘Blue Angels’.

The novelty mixed together with Pantone® is a touch darker – takes inspiration from the U.S. Navy’s blue overalls -and it now comes on the smaller and very comfortable 41mm TOP GUN. The model will be available in selected IWC boutiques worldwide.

IWC also presented a black version of the same timepiece this year, both equipped with the 46 hours running time, 4Hz automatic 69380 Calibre. 

A green dial, 18ct 5N gold encased version was also added to the Pilot’s Chronograph 41 family. The movement is the 69385 Calibre.

Photo credits: Loupiosity.com
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