The history of the IWC Ingenieur is very rich and this particular watch is not only one of the most iconic watches from this manufacture from Schaffhausen but also a legend and icon in the watch world. Originally launched in 1944 and revamped way too many times —at least five that we can remember—, the biggest changes to this model have taken place in 1976, 2005, 2008, 2012 and now in 2017.
Trying to emulate the concept of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak and the Patek Philippe Nautilus, IWC hired Gerald Genta in 1976 to give a facelift to the iconic Ingenieur and give birth to the Ingenieur SL 'Steel Line'. Thirty two years later 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. Then, after a very unsuccessful number of years and low popularity, the IWC Ingenieur receives yet another facelift to make it look a little bit more like the original Ingenieur but in reality we think is starting to look more like the Aquatimer and particularly like the discontinued Aquatimer 2000 we reviewed here a while back, at least from its caseband construction.
For this new facelift, the IWC Ingenieur is now available with a much smaller case size and in twelve different models. Among these twelve references —a little bit excessive in our opinion— we have the Ingenieur Automatic 18K Red Gold ref. IW357003 we are reviewing here, the Ingenieur Automatic ref. IW357001 in stainless steel with silver plated dial and black alligator strap, the Ingenieur Automatic ref. IW357002 with black dial and stainless steel bracelet, the Ingenieur Chronograph ref. IW380802 in stainless steel with stainless steel bracelet and blue dial and the Ingenieur Chronograph ref. IW380801 in stainless steel with stainless steel bracelet and silver plated dial.
Overall, the watches simply don't look right and the construction and design of the bracelets looks and feels cheap. If you look back two to three previous generations of Ingenieurs, you'll remember that the watches looked and felt like tanks with super sturdy and well made bracelets. Well, those seem to be long gone with these new models.
Fitted now with what is supposed to be a much more wearable size at 40 mm in diameter for the automatic non-chrono models, 42 and 42.3 mm for the chronographs and 45 mm for the perpetual calendar, the new IWC Ingenieur line clearly falls short in terms of design, ingenuity and craftsmanship.
While the cases are very well made, the excessive use of mirror polished surfaces around the bezel, lugs and the bracelets, make the watches look cheap and not like the IWCs we are used to. Considering that we didn't like the majority of the new Ingenieur watches, we decided to do a hands-on review of the only one we really liked.
The IWC Ingenieur Automatic ref. IW357003 we have here is fitted with a solid 18K red gold case measuring 40 mm in diameter and finished with a satin-brushed caseband that resembles quite heavily the look of the defunct Aquatimer 2000 —at the bottom you will find a picture so you can see what we mean. Equipped with a black alligator strap and a screw-down crown, the watch is quite elegant and slightly reminiscent of the Ingenieurs from the 1950s.
The IWC Ingenieur Automatic in 18K Red Gold ref. IW357003 is fitted with a gorgeous slate-colored dial with a stunning sunburst finish. Featuring applied markers, luminous dots and white minute track, the dial could've been kept much cleaner and simple, regardless, it is really nice and a true chameleon when it comes to how it varies in hue depending of the lighting conditions. However, what we feel is the biggest downside regarding the look of the watch is the double digit used for what should've been single digit dates on the date aperture at 3 o'clock.
Hidden behind a solid case back, the new Ingenieur Automatic ref. IW357003 is powered by the 25-jewel IWC calibre A35111 beating at a frequency of 28,800 vph and which provides a power reserve of 42 hours when fully wound. This relatively new automatic movement is the same one that powers the IWC Da Vinci Automatic and the Portofino Automatic. As far as anti-magnetic properties, we can't confirm whether the new Ingenieurs still feature the anti-magnetic protective inner casing or not.
On the Wrist & Pricing
On the wrist, the new IWC Ingenieur Automatic 18K Red Gold ref. IW357003 wears slightly smaller than its actual size and more like a 39 mm watch. As far as its wrist presence, very little is left from what an IWC Ingenieur would look like on the wrist. For the price, the Ingenieur Automatic in 18K Red Gold is not a bad deal considering it is priced under $15K USD and for a solid gold watch that is not a bad thing at all. However, if you are an Ingenieur purist like us, you clearly see that the new Ingenieurs are not necessarily what you probably wanted them to be.
Sticker Price $13,600 USD. For more info on IWC click here.