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Men only?

The IWC Ingenieur Automatic is relatively conservative by comparison with some models in the Ingenieur collection, but no less meritorious. Angus Davies reviews this high-end octane-infused timepiece.


IWC Ingenieur Automatic

 

In a former life, I was a Marketing Director. A necessary evil, but sadly not the artisan I wish I had been. A distinct lack of fine motor skills and limited patience precludes me from creating the wonderful horological timepieces I dearly love. However, I often take a professional interest in the brand DNA of a watch.

 

What is the brand trying to say to the would-be owner? Some will argue this is of little interest to a true watch enthusiast. I would argue to the contrary. If a watch brand’s persona is confused and the company doesn’t really know the image it is trying portray, then how can the wider public understand the brand positioning? This has a major impact on desirability and, by default, residual values.

 

IWC’s talents are not merely restricted to creating handsome timepieces. They are exemplars of horological marketing. This has been exampled, once again, at SIHH 2013. An exhibition stand, resembling a scene from the Formula One pitlane, was this year’s inspired theme for the latest range of novelties, the Ingenieur.

 

IWC Ingenieur Automatic

IWC Ingenieur Automatic

IWC Ingenieur Automatic

IWC Ingenieur Automatic

 

IWC have embraced the octane fuelled thrills of Formula One by signing a three-year engineering partnership with the Mercedes-Benz AMG Petronas team. Many styling influences and materials from the world of motorsport feature within the range including carbon fibre, ceramic and titanium. By contrast, the Ingenieur Automatic is relatively conservative by comparison with some models in the Ingenieur collection, but no less meritorious.

 

If you see the adverts for IWC timepieces, the strapline adjacent the brand’s nomenclature, perfectly captures the essence of the brand. IWC are “engineered for men”. If you examine an IWC movement, it may not have the highest level of finissage practised by the best, but it will be robust, reliable, well-engineered and facilitate servicing by a trained watchmaker. They possess an honesty, fit for purpose with a no-nonsense approach to timekeeping.

 

I speak as a fan of the brand. My own IWC Big Pilot is highly cherished and enjoys pride of place in my collection. It has history and a provenance dating back to the original Deck or Observation watches worn by pilots back in the 1930s and 40s.

 

IWC watches are masculine watches for men. They are not pretty but handsome with chiseled features.

 

Last night, I was lying in my bed, next to my wife. As her frozen feet decided to gravitate to my temperate legs, she looked at my bed-time reading material. It was an IWC press kit from SIHH 2013. I was immersed in the nuances and details of the Ingenieur range, when, with index finger extended, she stated “I like that one”. The focus of her attention was the new Ingenieur Automatic with silver plated dial and rhodium-plated hands and appliqués.

IWC Ingenieur Automatic

I retorted post-haste; “You can’t have that, it is a man’s watch. It is not for girls”. A tumble-weed moment followed and I reflected on the wisdom of my comment. Indeed, why could she not wear this man’s watch? I have often thought a lady wearing a man’s watch is very appealing, dare I say, sexy. I accept a man’s watch on my wife’s wrist cannot rival the allure of a wise purchase of lace and silk, but nevertheless with casual attire, they can look chic.

 

The appearance of the Ingenieur Automatic is modern, yet pays due reverence to the historical Ingenieur models of the 1950s. Moreover, this model reminds me of the Gérald Genta designed Ingenieur SL of 1976. The late, Mr Genta has penned many of the finest and most iconic watches in the last forty or so years and his design of 1976 remains wonderful to this day.

 

IWC Ingenieur Automatic

IWC Ingenieur Automatic

IWC Ingenieur Automatic

I feel a compulsion to write about this watch, which may well have universal appeal to both ladies and gentlemen.

 

The dial

Available with a black or silver-plated dial, I share my wife’s predilection for the latter. The silver-plated dial is available with rhodium-plated or rose-gold plated hands and appliqués. Whilse some ladies may prefer the warmth of the rose-gold detailing, I am drawn to the cool character of the variant with rhodium-plated hands and batons.

 

IWC Ingenieur Automatic

IWC Ingenieur Automatic

IWC Ingenieur Automatic

 

The hour and minute hands are partly skeletonised near their fulcrum and lined with luminous material, enhancing legibility in nocturnal light.

 

The central seconds hand is slim and lithe, pointing to the markings on the chapter ring with laser-like accuracy. Readability is peerless and clarity is conferred by the elegant form.

 

Hours are marked with simple applied batons. This is faithful to the original 1955 Ingenieur. Close examination reveals they are tapered at one end, directing the eyes to the centre of the dial. Luminous centres to the batons repeat the design language of the hands. Two batons feature at noon, reinforcing the strong features of the watch.

 

The date aperture resides at 3 o’clock, it succinctly conveys the date.

 

The case

I have fondled the Ingenieur with inquisitive hands. It is restrained in its proportions compared with its larger siblings. The 40 mm case diameter and height of 10 mm should particularly appeal to men who are put off the trend of recent years for oversized watches. Furthermore, it should not prove too large for female clientele.

 

Personally, I am drawn to some of the larger cased models in the Ingenieur range. This is primarily because, I am by my own admission, a behemoth, and feel at home wearing watches of 48 mm diameter. Nevertheless, this watch is aesthetically attractive and should appeal to the would-be purchaser with a more regular physique.

 

I particularly like the crown protectors which sit adjacent the crown. They smooth the interface between caseband and crown, evoking a sinuous shape, I never tired of stroking. The smooth finish of the case is deeply impressive. I tried to find a sharp edge, yet all aspects of the watch are smooth. I could not find any surface which was likely to lead to an irritating red mark on my skin caused through repeated rubbing.

 

Traditionalists will be pleased to see a soft-iron core, effectively a Faraday cage, and the solid caseback typically found on the 1950s models to counter this risks of magnetism.

 

Another aspect I particularly appreciate is the stainless steel bracelet. It is satin-brushed and features a series of rectangular sections spanning the links. The interplay between the different sections of the bracelet is wonderful. IWC have not sought expedience with the bracelet, its construction is involved and no doubt costly, but the result is sublime.

 

The movement

Female readers may be pleased to learn that the watch has a self-winding movement. Research has shown ladies prefer automatic watches in preference to manual-wind watches. I can understand this, anyone with a hectic lifestyle will know, that if you possess a manual-wind watch you can sometimes forget to impart energy to the mainspring.

 

This watch provides convenience to the would-be buyer thanks to the self-winding movement without having to succumb to the sterile, passion-free horror of quartz.

 

The watch has a power-reserve of 42 hours, which could have been greater, but I appreciate this may have increased the price, the case height, or both. On balance, I think IWC have probably been wise to choose this specification as the watch suits a slimmer wrist.

 

Water resistance to 120 metres (12 bar) and protection against magnetic fields make the Ingenieur Automatic a practical proposition and ideal for daily wear.

 

Conclusion

Clearly the Ingenieur Automatic has widespread appeal. Traditionally, IWC are masculine timepieces and this model would sit comfortably on the wrist of any alpha-male. Is it for men only? Well unlike a famous brand of chocolate sold in the UK with the slogan, “Not for girls”, I think the Ingenieur Automatic would equally grace the demure wrist of any couture clad super-model.

 

If ladies seek a well-engineered watch of robust character, they would do well choosing the handsome Ingenieur Automatic.

 

Technical specification

  • Model: IWC Ingenieur Automatic
  • Reference: IW323904
  • Case: Stainless steel; diameter 40.00 mm; height 10.00 mm ; water resistant to 12 bar (120 metres); sapphire crystal to front and solid caseback.
  • Functions: Hours; minutes; central seconds; date.
  • Movement: Calibre 30110, self-winding; frequency 28,800vph (4Hz); 21 jewels; power reserve 42 hours.
  • Bracelet: Stainless steel bracelet.

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