Insider: IWC Ingenieur Chronograph Racer ref. IW378509. Hands-on with an Underrated In-House Flyback Chronograph.

The IWC Ingenieur was originally launched in 1944 and since then, it has experienced several changes and major redesigns. Perhaps the most noticeable changes, took place in 1976, 2005 and in 2008. Trying to emulate the concept of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak and the Patek Philippe Nautilus, IWC hired Gerald Genta to give a facelift to the iconic Ingenieur giving birth to the Ingenieur SL 'Steel Line'. Then in 2008, the Ingenieur was released as a more robust timepiece under the 'Mission Earth' name and fitted with a larger case measuring 45 mm in diameter, fitted with crown guards and powered by the in-house calibre 80110. In 2013 IWC embarked on the Formula One season as the Official Engineering Partner of the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team and to mark this cooperation, IWC rolled out the Ingenieur Chronograph Racer in stainless steel with an engraving of a Formula One racing car on the case back. Regardless of all these changes and improvements, the original DNA of the watch is still relatively well preserved.

The IWC Ingenieur Chrono Racer ref. IW378509 we are reviewing here, still maintains the essence of the original iconic Ingenieur design with a robust stainless steel case measuring 45 mm in diameter, two dial variants —ardoise and silver plated— and available on strap or bracelet. The IWC Ingenieur Chronograph Racer ref. IW378509 we are reviewing here, is fitted with silver plated dial and black rubber strap with black alligator leather inlay; however, this reference is currently sold on black rubber strap with blue alligator leather inlay.

The Dial

Perhaps one of the most strikingly beautiful dials out there, the IWC Ingenieur Chrono Racer is fitted with a silver plated dial that is brushed finished and with an impressive grain and multi-layer construction.

The dial features blued applied raised faceted markers and skeletonized hands —all fitted with luminova including those for the running seconds and the chrono register. One just needs to tilt the watch at the right angle for that blue goodness to appear and mesmerize you.

The dial is well balanced with two subdials featuring highly polished raised surrounds and snailing. The subdial at 6 o'clock is for the running seconds and date aperture, while the one at 12 o'clock is the chronograph totalizer were elapsed hours and minutes can be read at a quick glance —with a circular totalizer that combines the hour and minute hands as if they were a watch-within-a-watch. To round out the balanced design of the dial, there is a raised flange with a minute chapter ring, a bright red tipped seconds hand and a red “60” in the chapter ring that was inspired by the digital display on the steering wheel of the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team racing car.

While one of the best things about this watch is that all hands —with the exception of the chrono seconds hand— are equipped with superluminova, the biggest downside is that the brightness at night is very weak and not long lasting. Since the hands are skeletonized and quite thin —for the chrono and running seconds—, the amount of luminous material applied to them is not necessarily enough to provide a strong lasting glow in the dark. Regardless, is nice to have luminova on the chronograph totalizer, a feature most chronos don't have.

The Case

Frankly, IWC is situated well above and beyond others, when it comes to case finishing. The case measures 45 mm in diameter and 14.5 mm in thickness and it feels quite solid and somewhat heavy weighing 165.6 grams. The finish of the case is nicely done with a very smooth satin-brushed finish with alternating mirror polished chamfers on the edges of the case, rectangular chrono pushers, crown guards, bottom part of the bezel and on the perimeter of the solid case back. The crown, is a screw-down and features the traditional 'Probus Scafusia' engraving. The IWC Ingenieur Chrono Racer is water resistant to 120 meters and is fitted with a solid case back featuring a very nice engraving of a Formula One racing car. If you are a Formula One fan like we are, you'll definitely love this watch.

The Movement

This rugged timepiece is powered by one of the most efficient movements manufactured entirely by IWC, the automatic flyback chronograph calibre 89361. This in-house movement provides a 68-hour power reserve when fully wound and features a date display with crown-activated rapid advance, a flyback chronograph with combined hour and minute totalizer at 12 o’clock and a small hacking seconds for more precise time setting. Thanks to the flyback function, pressing the reset button brings the stopwatch hand back to zero and immediately restarts timing, making it perfect for recording pit-stop times. The design of this new in-house movement, took the IWC development team four full years. Perhaps the only thing we dislike about this movement, is that the pushers are quite noisy when pressed and they require a lot of pressure in order to activate the chronograph.

The Strap

The IWC Ingenieur Chrono Racer ref. IW378509 was originally launched with a rubber strap with textile inlay but is now currently sold on black rubber strap with blue alligator leather inlay. As much as we are suckers for everything blue on watches, we definitely prefer the black alligator inlay on this watch, just as we have it on the one we are using for this hands-on review. The strap is very sporty and quite comfortable made of a semi-rigid rubber composite. The alligator inlay is of premium quality and the strap is fitted with a stainless steel IWC pin buckle.

On this particular reference, IWC has already changed the quick strap change mechanism that was originally placed on the back of the case —like on the original IWC Ingenieur or the Ingenieur Mission Earth we featured here— to the strap itself. All it takes, is for the wearer to press —with the provided pin pushing tools— the small push-pin located on the corner of the strap to remove the it and quickly change it.

On The Wrist & Pricing

On the wrist, the watch has very strong wrist presence and feels top heavy just like all other IWC Ingenieurs from this generation. The watch wears slightly bigger than its actual size and more like a 47 mm piece on a 7.25" wrist. The silver plated dial along with the blued markers and hands, make it a perfect watch for those in love with racing inspired watches with a touch of class. If you are a fellow Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team supporter and you have your Paddock passes ready for the upcoming 2015 Grand Prix of Mexico at the end of this month, this watch better be on your wrist as the perfect companion.

Sticker Price $12,300 USD on rubber strap and $13,600 USD on stainless steel bracelet. For more info on IWC click here.