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IWC Ingenieur Automatic 40 Watch Review

IWC Ingenieur Automatic 40

Well, this has been a long time coming. With all the Genta-adjacent aesthetics and sports luxe furore over the past few years, the designer’s underrated work for IWC was always going to see the limelight once again. And here it is, a revamp of the original Ingenieur SL Reference 1832 from 1976. Is it everything we’d hoped for? Pretty much, yes.

I won’t go into the history of the watch too much as we’ve done so many times before, but it’s worth mentioning all the same. The Ingenieur SL came about in a period of crisis for the watch industry. Not only was quartz hammering traditional watchmaking, but the price of gold in the early 1970s was insanely high, meaning the usual full-gold pieces that were popular at the time were out. Salvation came in the form of Gerald Genta whose disruptive, industrial style gave us the first luxury sports watches and defined the style of 1970s watchmaking.

IWC Ingenieur SL Ref. 1832

IWC Ingenieur SL Ref. 1832

Alongside the Royal Oak and Nautilus that Genta’s best known for, he also built the Ingenieur SL Ref. 1832, taking a name that had been in IWC’s collection since the 1950s and lavishing it with that same industrial twang, visible bezel screws and all.

IWC Ingenieur Automatic 40

Over the years the Ingenieur’s seen plenty of variations and in fact has been part of IWC’s collection for years. But the current line has more in common with the more understated models from the 50s than the iconic 70s reference. Fortunately for collectors, the new IWC Ingenieur Automatic 40mm is firmly the other way around.

That’s most noticeable in the bezel, which has the five visible screws that have helped define the watch. In the past they were just there for the look of the thing, serving no technical purpose and randomly placed. Now however, they actually secure bezel to case ring. Other than ensuring that they’re always in the same position, it just makes more sense this way. Not that it particularly changes the aesthetics.

IWC Ingenieur Automatic 40

What does change the look is the new dial, which is subtly stunning. It’s a riff on the 70s model and consists of groups of lines set perpendicular to each other, giving it a kind of chequerboard look. It’s a phenomenal dial and suits the machined look of the case to a tee. It does however look a touch better on the black version instead of the silver; it’s just a bit more subtle that way.

Speaking of colours, while we have the black and silver here, there is also an aqua blue. It just wasn’t ready in time for the shoot, unfortunately. The same goes for the titanium case, though honestly, I’d always opt for the steel anyway. It’s just that much truer to the original and at 40mm I imagine the titanium would be just a bit too light for my tastes.

IWC Ingenieur Automatic 40

There are a host of other changes in the Ingenieur Automatic 40mm compared to the Ref. 1832, but the rest aren’t all that noticeable until you get it on your wrist. We’re talking close links on the upper bracelet, a simplified clasp and a slightly curved front glass. They’re small changes, but add up to a much better feel on the wrist and more nuanced level of detail compared to the 70s model. Essentially, rather than a faithful re-issue, the new model is the Ingenieur SL Ref. 1832 perfected.

Obviously the movement is new to the Ingenieur too, though it’s the same movement as in IWC’s latest pilots’ watches, the calibre 32111. That means a 120-hour power reserve contained in a soft iron inner shell to protect against magnetism – something that’s been part of the Ingenieur collection since its inception. It also has some protection against water with a 100m depth rating. I wouldn’t go diving with it myself, but to each their own.

IWC Ingenieur Automatic 40

Now, down to brass tacks. I always assumed that IWC would price the new Ingenieur relatively high, somewhere between 10 and 15K. And now that the £10,500 price tag has been confirmed, I have to say… it feels about right. Even though the Mark XX has the same movement for £5,000 less, the Ingenieur’s blend of historical sports-luxe and retro aesthetics is a winning formula that perfectly captures the zeitgeist.

As it is, it’ll definitely sell and there’s most likely be a solid wait list. And don’t get me wrong, everyone that gets hold of it will have a seriously good watch on their wrists. But if it were just a shade cheaper, it would be one of the best Genta designs on the market.

Price & Specs:

  • Model: IWC Ingenieur Automatic 40
  • Ref: IW328901 (black dial), IW328902 (white dial), IW328903 (blue dial)
  • Case/dial: 40mm diameter x 10.7mm thickness, stainless steel case, black, white or blue dial
  • Water resistance: 100m (10 bar)
  • Movement: IWC calibre 32111, automatic, 21 jewels, 164 parts
  • Frequency: 28,800 vph (4 Hz)
  • Power reserve: 120h
  • Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date
  • Strap: Stainless steel bracelet
  • Price/availability: £10,500

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About the author

Sam Kessler

Legend has it that Sam’s first word was ‘escapement’ and, while he might have started that legend himself, he’s been in the watch world long enough that it makes little difference. As the editor of Oracle Time, he’s our leading man for all things horological – even if he does love yellow dials to a worrying degree. Owns a Pogue; doesn’t own an Oyster Perpetual. Yet.