The first Ingenieur of 1955 was IWC’s first resolutely technical watch which, unlike the brand’s Pilot’s Watch that was made for a specific type of user, was introduced more generally for everyone, in an era where magnetic interference from the increasing proliferation of electrical devices was evoking concern.
The French word ingenieur means “engineer”, and the main selling point of the watch was that it was antimagnetic, with its movement being protected from potentially damaging magnetic fields via a soft-iron inner case. Also significant was the fact that the watch contained the first automatic movement from IWC, with the self-winding system developed by Albert Pellaton, IWC’s technical director at the time.
As a watch from the ’50s, it was designed with the dominant codes of that era — thick bezel, prominent lugs and silver sunray-finished dial — and kept with the IWC signature of keeping things extremely readable and precise with lumed straight hands and applied indexes.
These aesthetic touches were returned to the Ingenieur in 2016, more than six decades later, and it was a refreshing delight for collectors of IWC watches. When the brand revealed three variations of a new-look Ingenieur containing a new in-house chronograph caliber 69370, one might have expected it to be a one-off occurrence. After all, the IWC Chronograph Editions “Rudolf Caracciola”, “74th Members’ Meeting at Goodwood” and “W 125” (for the Mercedes-Benz W 125 Silver Arrow) were limited-edition watches that deviated aesthetically from what we had come to expect from the Ingenieur collection. And that was understandable since the watches were meant to commemorate a vintage era of motor racing, a world apart from the bold, angular, and sometimes carbon fiber-infused aesthetics of Formula One racing that have been par for the course for the Ingenieur in recent times.
Yet that relatively low-profile launch in March 2016, occurring in the shadow of IWC’s “Year of the Pilot’s Watch”, had quietly signaled a shift in the aesthetic direction of the brand’s watches. In 2017, IWC enriched this collection with four new references – the Ingenieur Automatic, the Ingenieur Chronograph, the Ingenieur Chronograph Sport, and the Ingenieur Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month.
The Ingenieur collection got a major boost in 2019 with the launch of the Perpetual Calendar Digital Date Month, featuring IWC’s in-house caliber 89801 and a case made from grade 5 titanium. Featuring a flyback chronograph complication, this model was more of a tool watch as compared to its predecessor in gold. Limited to 100 pieces, the Perpetual Calendar Digital Date Month was powered by Caliber 89801, a self-winding movement with a solid 18k gold rotor and hacking seconds function.
Talking of special watches, we have in our shop two models from the Ingenieur line with really solid origins. While the reference 3227 is one of the descendants of the famous IWC Ingenieur designed by Gérald Genta in 1976, the reference 323603 is the Mission Earth Blue that marked IWC’s collaboration with British ecologist and adventurer David de Rothschild in 2009.
The present example of the reference 3227 is a classic round watch with three hands, a date window at 3 o’clock and a case measuring 42.5 mm in diameter. This model from 2007 is equipped with automatic calibre 80110 that has a powerful reserve of 44 hours.
Created to mark the partnership between IWC and David de Rothschild’s incredible yacht of the same name, the Ingenieur ‘Mission Earth Plastiki ref IWC 323603 supported Rothschild’s incredible Adventure Ecology organisation that built a 60 foot catamaran made entirely of plastic bottles and recycled waste products. With this yacht, David and his crew members sailed 10,000 nautical miles across the Pacific Ocean from San Francisco to Sydney.
The large 46mm stainless steel watch sports a deep blue textured dial with bold orange luminous hour indicators and hands. Powered by IWC’s self-winding calibre 80110 with 44 hours of power reserve, water resistant to 120m and fitted to a blue rubber strap with steel pin buckle, the watch presents a cool design detail on the inside of the strap; it has the same little motifs as the dial of the Ingenieur. The present example comes with the original papers and Watchfinder’s two-year warranty.