IWC Ingenieur 2023: Mixed Emotions, I was Hoping for Better

As a watch journalist, one must balance passion with objectivity when evaluating timepieces. Despite being considered obsolete luxury items by many, the emotional appeal of mechanical watches has ensured their continued relevance. While technical aspects should be evaluated, it is rare for high-end brands to produce watches that don’t meet these standards.

However, when a journalist feels passionate about a particular brand, it can lead to heightened objectivity and a sense of ownership, resulting in perhaps overly high expectations for the brand’s performance and innovation.One brand that holds this status for me is IWC. At Watches & Wonders, I always make a point to visit the IWC booth as it is often features one of the most impressive displays in the foyer. This year, their big launch was the new Ingenieur.

IWC Ingenieur Automatic 40 with black dial

Upon seeing a new watch, I typically experience a range of emotions, from excitement to sheer awe. However, when I first saw the new Ingenieur, I was surprised that it didn’t elicit any emotion from me. Nada. Although it was not an unattractive or poorly-made watch, it lacked any unique or stand-out qualities to distinguish it as the next chapter in IWC’s collection.

IWC Ingenieur Automatic 40 with green dial

Genta Stardust

One of the highlights that IWC promoted was the Ingenieur’s connection to renowned designer Gérald Genta, whose designs have become increasingly popular in recent years. Even a decade after his passing, many enthusiasts view watches bearing Genta’s name as something extra special, similar to the iconic Pininfarina design on a Ferrari.

Any brand that commissioned a design from him in the past is sitting on a potential goldmine. This includes, first and foremost, Audemars Piguet and Patek Philippe. The Royal Oak and the Nautilus are the most famous Genta designs, which credit both the designer and the two brands for maintaining these iconic timepieces’ familiar faces despite changing trends.

IWC Ingenieur Reference 666

The Ingenieur already had a notable track record before Genta designed his version. Introduced around 1955, the reference 666, a sports watch back then, would now be considered a dress watch. Almost two decades later, Genta reshaped the Ingenieur, creating the Reference 1832, nicknamed ‘Jumbo’ due to its enormous 40mm diameter at the time.

IWC Ingenieur Reference 3521 (image courtesy Sothebys)

Genta deserves credit for ushering the Ingenieur into a new era, as the last one with direct lineage to his pencil, Reference 3521, was discontinued in 2001. The Reference 3227, launched in 2005, was an exceptional successor, taking what was good from the Genta design and tweaking it slightly to meet current tastes.

However, with the introduction of the “Vintage Collection Ingenieur” in 2008, the waters became muddled as these designs drew back to the original Reference 666, offering two flavors of the same thing. IWC then entered an era of oversize designs that highlighted the Ingenieur’s unique features, resulting in a big departure from the original design language. 

IWC Ingenieur Reference 3570

The Reference 3570 represented the next generation of Ingenieur, with a modern take on the early years’ design language, making it rather plain. The new Ingenieur is a breath of fresh air, but more like returning to a familiar place after years away. I expected more.

Bracelet of the IWC Ingenieur Automatic 40

The difference between stainless steel and titanium

When handling the new Ingenieurs, I notice a difference between the stainless steel and titanium models. While there is much emphasis on the dial, I find the Reference 3227 equally enticing.

IWC Ingenieur Automatic 40 in titanium

The green dial version may be too trendy, but I understand IWC’s need to make a profit. The prices for the Ingenieur also stirred some emotion within me.

IWC Ingenieur Automatic 40 with green dial

The $11,700 price tag for the stainless steel models competes with other tempting IWCs, let alone the $14,700 cost for the titanium version. The titanium model appears more refined in its finishing, feeling noticeably more expensive than its stainless steel counterparts, which it is.

IWC Ingenieur Automatic 40 with white dial

Although I appreciate IWC’s decision to restore the Ingenieur to its rightful state, I hesitate to embrace this new model because I expected more. Currently, it appears to be riding too much on the wave of “Genta-designed/nesque sports watches with integrated bracelets (and green dials).” Adding the “0” before all the single dates also feels gimmicky, rather than offering a full big date feature. 

Despite anticipated demand at this price point, I think I need more time to fully digest this new Ingenieur. To be continued.

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Quick Facts IWC Ingenieur
Case: 40 x 14 mm, stainless steel/titanium, 10 ATM water reistance
Movement: automatic IWC Caliber 32111 with 120-hour power reserve, 4 Hz/28,800 VpH
Price: $14,600 (titanium), $11,700 (stainless steel)

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10 replies
  1. Tam O’ Banter
    Tam O’ Banter says:

    These sentiments are far too generous in my opinion. It’s an ordinary piece, with a messed-up bracelet and it’s not even a chronometer. For all that money!
    IWC are simply crossing their fingers that enough people see this who don’t understand that its ludicrous.

  2. Maciej
    Maciej says:

    You say you were hoping for more… but the article doesn’t say what, more what? It doesn’t actually say what this one is lacking…

    • Tam O’ Banter
      Tam O’ Banter says:

      How about a chronometer certificate? Finishing worthy of the price? Micro-adjustment on the bracelet?
      A designer who understands what was great about previous iterations?

  3. James H
    James H says:

    Like a $15 Starbucks, nice enough, but grotesquely overpriced. Aside from IWCs obscene pricing, I struggle with the ‘Genta thing.’ Yes, he designed a version of the watch in its history; but no it wasn’t remarkable. In fact Genta’s design was workmanlike at best, lazy and derivative if you’re feeling less charitable. It is said he designed the brilliant Royal Oak overnight, but it doesn’t seem the Ingenieur took much longer. Yet this modern version (that has absolutely no link to the man) is supposed to be something special? And not yet another ’70s style integrated jumping on a bandwagon populated by every wannabe brand in watchmaking? On the day Christopher Ward releases their ’12’ for $1000 with a nice enough design and a good enough movement, one can’t help but suspect IWC of awful cynicism. And optimistic pricing.

  4. alexandru ioancio
    alexandru ioancio says:

    But remember it is your opinion. No emotions. The watch itself is a state of the art only two negatives: disrespectful price tag for the conoisseurs and aficionados and the extra charge of fine tuning buckle . I think that the PR team must be revised because they screw up almost all the time these extraordinary watches.

  5. Steve S
    Steve S says:

    While many will argue merits based on subjective impressions, the resulting opinions are all the same, value is not recognized and without the willingness to compare value, not much can move that needle. The real issue will always come down to what can be afforded and to be able to purchase, you need to make enough money to do so. Envy should always be placed on the object and not the mechanism to achieve object. Nerdy enough?
    Shopping value to price = Joy.

  6. Michael Friedberg
    Michael Friedberg says:

    An excellent review. A few points to consider:

    1. If I recall, the 3227 was 5500 USD in 2005. Have not most watch prices doubled in 18 years?
    2. This model and the 3227 were amagnetic, a defining criteria for the Ingenieur. Most models between 2005 and now were not.

  7. Patrick Weigert
    Patrick Weigert says:

    The renewed IWC Ingenieur based on the Ref. 1832 is with no doubt an extraordinary watch with a great future. The Genta-Design is timeless. Like a Porsche 911 you might have to touch it very carefully. The Ref. 1832 is an icon and the new IWC Ingenieur takes up this legend. This watch will make its way. The high price is another story. IWC just takes what the marketoffers. There is no difference regarding the Royal Oak or the Nautilus. On the contrary, compared to the two mentioned, the Ingenieur is almost a bargain.


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