IWC Ingenieur Automatic
Both Rolex and IWC saw the need for a watch for engineers and scientists in the 1950s, combining rugged automatic movements, water-resistant cases, and anti-magnetic concepts in the Rolex Milgauss and this IWC Ingenieur. The concept has remained for over 50 years, with the IWC Ingenieur family spawning many models, including an iconic redesign by famed designer Gerald Genta, a pivot to motor racing, and the use of exotic materials like titanium and ceramic.
The Ingenieur had become somewhat stale by the mid 1970s but famed designer Gerald Genta had shown a stylistic path forward with his groundbreaking Audemars Piguet Royal Oak in 1972. Genta designed three “SL” or “Steel Line” watches for IWC, of which only the Ingenieur was presented for sale. Measuring 40 mm by 38 mm around a 30 mm dial, the “Jumbo” nickname seemed appropriate for the time. Poor sales spurred IWC to search for a smaller and thinner movement to allow the watch to be reduced in size to 34 mm for the 1980s, with the "Skinny" Ref. 3305 and 3505/3506 quartz and automatic offerings giving way to the Ref. 3521 "Officially Certified Chronometer" for the 1990s.
IWC had stopped producing most in-house movements during the quartz crisis and turned to Jaeger-LeCoultre (then 55% owned by IWC parent company LMH) for the “Officially Certified Chronometer”. But Cal. 887/2 (based on the Jaeger-LeCoultre Cal. 889/2) was also used in the competing Audemars Piguet Royal Oak and Vacheron Constantin Overseas. IWC had a great deal of experience with the ETA 7750 chronograph movement and used this basic design to create the new in-house Cal. 80000 family, launched in 2005 in this Ref. 3227 Ingenieur.
Named “Ingenieur Automatic” to highlight this new in-house movement, Cal. 80110, Ref. 3227 was the first clean-sheet design for the Ingenieur line since Genta's 1976 Ingenieur SL. Although it retains many of the SL's signature touches, including the five-bore bezel, the case is much larger and more angular, now measuring a whopping 42.5 mm across. Although even larger than the derided “Jumbo”, this was in keeping with the styling trends of the 2000s and was the first “oversized” Ingenieur since the early 1980s.
The Ingenieur Automatic was available in a basic steel model, Ref. IW322701, with or without a steel bracelet, but it was the titanium Mercedes AMG models (Ref. IW322702 and IW322703) that made the most waves. This exotic case material was pioneered by IWC in the 1984 Ref. 3350 "Ingenieur in Titanium and it was welcomed back by brand enthusiasts. Soon, the entire Ingenieur line would be given over to titanium, ceramic, and the Mercedes AMG partnership.
Although it shared the basic look of the Ingenieur SL, with a tonneau-shaped case and five-bore bezel, the new Automatic diverged in details. Arabic numerals returned, at 6 and 12 in steel models and even hours in the titanium AMG version, and the new dial featured details for added depth. The steel offering features an outer seconds track with numerals at 5 second increments, while the AMG model has red numerals every 10 seconds. The AMG offering also has a circular cutout in the center of the dial somewhat reminiscent of the pie pan dial of the original Ingenieur. All models feature sword hands and split bar markers with lume.
The “Ingenieur Automatic” was a modest sales success and was phased out in 2009 as the Ref. 3233 "Vintage" Ingenieur was released. But the Mercedes AMG models would set the stage for the next generation Ingenieur line, including the 2013 Ref. 3239.
The Ingenieur line was entirely refreshed in 2005 focusing on the Ingenieur Automatic, Ref. 3227 and co-branded Mercedes AMG model, the smaller "Midsize" Ref. 4515, and the Ingenieur Chronograph, Ref. 3725. The Ref. 3227 Ingenieur Automatic was retired in 2009 as the "Vintage" Ingenieur Automatic, Ref. 3233 appeared on the scene.
In 2011, the Ingenieur design was rebooted again with a new case, first in the Ref. 3765 Ingenieur Double Chronograph and later on a variety of other models. The entire range was refreshed in 2013, centered on the Mercedes-AMG partnership.