The Worst-Kept Secret In The World Of Watches: A New IWC Ingenieur Is Expected Soon
Rumors about a new IWC Ingenieur started last year during Watches and Wonders 2022. But even before that, the Ingenieur was on people’s minds. It was on my mind anyway. During an IWC event back in 2021, I asked the brand’s CEO Chris Grainger-Herr if there were any plans to reintroduce a steel sports watch with an integrated bracelet in the style of the Gérald Genta-designed Ingenieur SL 1832 “Jumbo.” He answered that a Portugieser with a new steel bracelet that mimics an integrated look would do the job just fine for the time being. This year, during Watches and Wonders 2023, we have the feeling that IWC will most probably launch a new Ingenieur. But what will it look like?
I know for sure that it won’t look like the round Ingenieur models that IWC introduced in 2017 — there are just five references in the current collection. These models were inspired by the original 1955 Ingenieur 666, a precise watch that was resistant to shocks and magnetic fields. The 666 was an important watch, but the most famous Ingenieur is the Ingenieur SL 1832. This watch designed by Gérald Genta was in production between 1976 and 1984. And, more importantly, the Ingenieur SL 1832 is part of the holy trinity of luxurious sports watches with an integrated bracelet that Genta designed — Royal Oak (1972), Nautilus (1976), and Ingenieur (1976).
There’s a new IWC Ingenieur on the horizon — please let it be like the vintage Ingenieur SL 1832 “Jumbo”
The Ingenieur may have had the typical Genta looks, but the IWC was more of a tool watch than a luxury timepiece. Meaning, the finishing was at a lower level than that of the Nautilus and the Royal Oak. On the other hand, the IWC’s own 8541 ES caliber built with antimagnetic parts and a soft-iron inner case made it an instrumental timepiece.
As time passed, the Royal Oak became a pillar of Audemars Piguet and the Nautilus a watch that overshadowed the Patek Philippe collection, much to the disgust and worries of Patek’s president Thierry Stern. The Ingenieur, however, didn’t really follow in the footsteps of the “RO” and the Nautilus. Around 550 Ingenieur SL 1832 “Jumbo” watches were sold, and that was way less than IWC had anticipated. Perhaps serious engineers didn’t like the slightly frivolous shape? Still, when looking at the SL 1832 today, it looks pretty good. Better, in my opinion, than its successors that were based on the original Genta design.
The 2005 Ingenieur 3227-01 stomps on the scene
When the Ingenieur 3227-01 debuted in 2005, I was intrigued by the watch. The 42.5 × 14.5mm dimensions sounded quite hefty and bulky, but since it was an instrument meant to deal with challenging industrial environments, those numbers were not instant dealbreakers. I had the opportunity to wear the watch for a week, but I soon found out that the size and the weight of the steel watch with its integrated bracelet were too much for me. The watch felt very top-heavy and never really settled nicely on my wrist. That was too bad because there was nothing wrong with the looks of the watch. The dial was nicely detailed and managed to look both instrumental and refined.
Inside the case, IWC put the in-house caliber 80110, a robust movement with the brand’s Pellaton winding system and an integrated shock-absorption system to protect the rotor bearing from impacts and vibrations. It was an impressive movement with great resistance to magnetic fields up to 80,000 A/m or 1,000 gauss. But in the end, the weight, troublesome dimensions, and the steep price of around €6,000 led me to not buy the Ingenieur 3227-01. The watch was then discontinued in 2009.
The slender IWC Ingenieur 3239 shows up
Four years after the bulky Ingenieur 3227-01, IWC introduced the Ingenieur 3239. The original Gérald Genta design clearly shone through. It was also quite a slender and elegant creation. Furthermore, the dimensions of the 40 × 10mm Ingenieur both sounded and wore like perfection on the wrist. The black or white dials were pretty neat too. There was no pattern in relief, so they were a bit soberer. But the applied hour markers and firm hands filled with luminescent material gave the watch a robust yet sophisticated appearance.
There were two major problems with the watch. Inside the case beat an ETA 2892 and the price of the Ingenieur 3239 was over €6,000. Just like the original SL 1832 “Jumbo” and the bulky 3227-01, the “under powered” and overpriced 3239 was never a big sales hit. Will the upcoming Ingenieur, the worst-kept secret in the world of watches, be any different?
This is the moment
Luxurious sports watches like the aforementioned Royal Oak and Nautilus but also the Vacheron Constantin Overseas, the Girard-Perregaux Laureato, and newcomers like the Czapek Antarctique, are at the height of their popularity. The IWC Ingenieur might be a tool watch deep down inside, but it does have Gérald Genta pedigree that seems to be very valuable nowadays. My guess is that the 2023 Ingenieur will be a revamped, modernized SL 1832 “Jumbo,” more of a homage than the Ingenieur 3227-01 and 3239 ever were.
Will we see “International Watch Co” in cursive letters on the dial? I don’t think so. The flashy “Ingenieur SL” wording probably won’t make it either. A reimagined checkerboard-textured dial will most likely be present, though. Since both the RO and the Nautilus boast a very recognizable dial pattern, IWC will most likely not put a blank dial in the new Ingenieur.
Inside the Ingenieur
My hope for the movement inside a new 40 × 10mm Ingenieur — these dimensions would be perfect, don’t you agree? — is something very rugged and antimagnetic. But my hopes often differ from my expectations. I expect IWC to put the automatic caliber 32111 — the same movement you will find inside the Pilot’s Watch Mark XX, for example — inside the upcoming Ingenieur. That movement from the 32000 caliber family has an architecture based on the ETA 2892, the successor of the ETA 2824. The 4Hz caliber with 120 hours of power reserve is manufactured by Richemont-owned ValFleurier. Does that make this the movement with a silicon escape wheel and pallet lever an in-house caliber? Please discuss.
Based on these imaginary specs and the state of the market, I think IWC will price the rumored new Ingenieur a bit above €10,000. Let’s say €11,500. Will it be a hit? The three previous models may have bombed, but the new one comes at the right time. The market is still very hungry for these types of watches. Also, the pedigree is there, and the brand identity and value are good. In other words, I see no reason why the predicted Ingenieur is not going to be the most successful Ingenieur in the history of IWC. As long as the price is right, that is.
Keep a close eye on the official IWC website to find out what the new Ingenieur looks like, what it can do, and what it costs. And we will also keep you posted, of course.
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*Featured image: Rarebirds