The Ingenieur from the Swiss manufacturer IWC appeals above all to technology fans. Many models in this collection are dedicated to auto racing. The Ingenieur became famous for its inner cage protecting it against magnetic fields up to ~50,000 gauss.
- Anti-magnetic up to 46,500 gauss
- Titanium, ceramic, red gold, and stainless steel cases
- Rare and valuable vintage collector's watches
- Tourbillon with a constant-force mechanism
- Large collection dedicated to auto racing
A Checkered History
The development of the Ingenieur reflects the technological advancement of its age. Electricity and electric motors became even more widespread in the 20th century, entering almost every household in the industrialized world. However, these inventions brought magnetic fields
along with them, which were problematic for the precision of wristwatches
. Above all, the balance spring and the escapement proved susceptible to magnetism. Certain professions were especially affected. Electronic fuel injection in aircraft motors was such a powerful source of magnetism that IWC
created the first specialized pilot's watch with a soft iron cage
in 1936. The IWC Mark 11 from 1948, the Royal Air Force's service watch
, was also accordingly equipped. Today, anti-magnetism is still an important feature for a high-quality pilot's watch. It is one of the test criteria for the 2016 German pilot's watch norm, the DIN 8330.
The demand for an anti-magnetic wristwatch only grew in the 1950s. High magnetic fields were present in environments with high-voltage cables and machine engineering, as well as in nuclear research centers like CERN in Geneva, Switzerland. Therefore, IWC introduced the first IWC Ingeniuer in 1955, with the reference number 666. It was available with a date display (caliber 8521) or without a date display (caliber 852). Its inner cage and soft-iron disc between the dial and the movement protected it against magnetic fields up to 1,000 gauss (80,000 A/m). An anti-magnetic watch has to be able to withstand at least six gauss, according to DIN 8309. Therefore, IWC's 1,000 gauss-resistant watch was quite an achievement. The case is also waterproof to 100 meters. The early Ingeniuer calibers ticked at 19,800 alternations per hour (A/h). This was especially fast for its time, as 18,000 A/h was a more common speed in the 1950s. With their new watch, IWC targeted engineers, pilots, technicians, chemists, and physicians. Although many of their customers were top earners, most preferred the less expensive version without a date display. The watch had a simple, classic, elegant feel with dauphine-style hands.
After a few small changes, the Ingenieur was completely redesigned in 1975 by Gérald Genta
, who also designed the Royal Oak
from Audemars Piguet. The bezel with its five visible screws became a hallmark of the Ingenieur. "SL" was attached to its name and a quartz movement was placed within its case. In 1989, the Ingenieur 500,000 A/m model set a record level of resistance against magnetic fields. However, the resistance was understated. Not only did it withstand 500,000 A/m, as its name promised, but this version of the Ingenieur functioned flawlessly in an MRI containing 3.7 million A/m (around 46,500 gauss). Its balance spring was made of a special niobium-zircon alloy, which made the delicate piece virtually anti-magnetic. This made the use of soft-iron cage superfluous. Omega
also borrowed this concept with their silicon balance springs.
In the current Ingenieur collection, only the classic Automatic (reference number 3239) has a soft-iron inner cage to protect against magnetism. The rest of the models have a different flair; they are all connected to auto racing. Most have a stopwatch function, making them chronographs. The Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg both have their own editions made of titanium. The legendary Grand Prix driver Rudolf Caracciola (1901 - 1959) was honored with a retro Ingenieur, similar to his retro racing car, the 1937 Mercedes W 125.
The cooperation with Mercedes appears in Ingenieur models with the letters AMG in the name. AMG is the high-performance division of Mercedes; they engineer and customize sleek Mercedes AMG vehicles. The Ingenieur Automatic AMG watches feature black ceramic or boron carbide cases with matching black dials and straps.
The Constant-Force Tourbillon Ingenieur is one of the most intricate models in the series. It's limited to a run of 50. Its tourbillon isn't its only impressive feature either: It also has a 96-hour power reserve with a power reserve display, as well as a perpetual moon phase display, double moon phases for the northern and southern hemispheres, and a countdown display showing phases until the next full moon. The 46-mm case is made of platinum and ceramic or 18-karat red gold and ceramic.
Are you looking for a watch with particular technical appeal? Or are you a fan of racing sports? Then the IWC Ingenier is a good option for you. It was developed in the 1950s for specific careers, but today appeals to a wider variety of people.
The Automatic model with reference number 3239 comes closest to the original concept. It has a soft iron inner cage for protection against magnetic fields and a moderate diameter of 40 mm. It's powered by the caliber 2892, which is produced by the world's largest ébauche manufacturer, ETA. The lack of an in-house caliber makes this timepiece great value for your money. A new Ingenieur Automatic costs around 4,500 euros. If you want to go back in time to the series' beginning, then you should look for vintage watches with reference numbers 666 and 766. Today, they are highly sought-after collector's pieces. This applies to the Ingenieur watches from the 1970s as well, which were designed by Gérald Genta. At the time, they were only sold in a limited amount and are therefore now rare and expensive. The most coveted watch is reference number 1832. It costs around 10,000 euros, though with its box and papers it's much more expensive.
You should be prepared to spend over 30,000 euros on the Ingenieur Perpetual Calendar Digital Date Month. It has an impressive series of complications, such as a perpetual calendar and flyback chronograph. It has two large digital date and month displays to the right and left above the central axis. The case is made of titanium and has a sapphire glass case back. It has a diameter of 46 mm and a thickness of 17 mm. The Perpetual Calendar Digital Date Month is one of the highlights of the current Ingenieur series. With its constant-force tourbillon, it shows what technology has made possible.
The platinum version of the constant-force tourbillon is one of the most expensive IWC watches. New, this watch costs around 200,000 euros
International Watch Company: Since 1868
When the Ingenieur was first released, IWC already had a long-established watchmaking tradition. The watchmaker Florentine Ariosto Jones
(1841 - 1916) from Boston founded the International Watch Company in Schaffhausen, Switzerland
in 1868. He wanted to sell his Swiss-produced watches in America for a profit. However, his plan failed due to high import taxes. In 1880, businessman Johannes Rauschenbach bought the company. Until 1978, IWC was run by the Rauschenbach/Homberger family. Due to the Quartz Crisis, however, the company changed owners multiple times between 1978 and 2000. Since 2000, IWC has belonged to the Richemont Group
along with A. Lange & Söhne
, and Panerai