IWC brings back the iconic Gérald Genta design in a reincarnation of the Ingenieur with a new Automatic 40. We bring you a hands-on comprehensive review.
We first saw the novelties on 15 March in a preview held in Singapore where we had a good hands-on session. IWC released three new references in stainless steel and one in titanium. All are powered by the IWC Caliber 32111 and feature the traditional soft-iron inner case. Our review photograph is the Ref. IW328903: stainless steel case, aqua dial, rhodium-plated hands and appliqués, integrated stainless steel bracelet with polished centre links and butterfly folding clasp. The other models in stainless steel have a black or silver dial, and the titanium piece has a grey dial.
Review: The new Ingenieur Automatic 40
The retail price for the new IWC Ingenieur Automatic 40 is SGD 17,300 for the steel models and SGD 21,700 for the titanium model. Price includes GST.
The case, dial and hands
The case is designed to bear close resemblance to the original Ingenieur SL created by Gérald Genta in the 1970s. The Ingenieur was first introduced in 1955, and in the 1970s Günter Blümlein had Genta do a re-design and created the SL collection.
This collection bore the Genta DNA, with the signature exposed screws on the dial, in this case 5 screws secure the round bezel to the case. The sides of the bezel are chamfered and polished, while the top carries a circular graining. The Genta design also called for an integrated bracelet, which is very nicely returns to the new Ingenieur collection.
The case dimensions are also close to the original SL. The lug to lug distance of 45.7mm retains the proportions of the SL which has excellent ergonomics and wearability. The case is now lightly curved on the case back to better fit the wrist and the new bracelet retains the three link arrangement. Aesthetically the new bracelet looks more modern, but we think the older bracelets are more nuanced in the detailing, especially the middle link which is more prominent feels more 3 dimensional.
The dial is particularly attractive with the grid structure, made up of raised and depressed line sections to create the textured surface. The lines are offset 90 degrees to each other and is stamped on a soft iron core before it is galvanised to this rather brilliant green hue which IWC calls aqua. The indentations could have been made by a guilloché machine, but we understand that the traditional rose engine is designed to engrave into brass, silver or gold, which are softer materials than the iron used for the Ingenieur dial. Iron is selected as the dial is part of the encapsulation of the soft-iron core.
Overall, the impression of the new Ingenieur 40 is very positive. We had the original SL on hand for comparisons, though for some reason were requested by IWC not to show both the new and old side by side.
The movement: Caliber 32111
The new Ingenieurs feature a closed case back as it is equipped with a soft iron inner case to allow it to achieve the amagnetic claims, which curiously is not stated in the IWC specifications sheet. Compared to the specification written in the dial of the Ref.3805 which boasts of 500,000 A/m.
The movement is an in-house caliber 32111 which we first saw in the 2022 Aquatimer. The movement is impressive with its 120 hour power reserve beating at 28,800 bph. We have never examined the movement for finissage, but will assume that the caliber is finished in a competent high engineering level with minimal embellishments as decorations. Thus we expect it to perform its duties quietly and efficiently as a workhorse.
The Competitive landscape
The usual suspects litter the landscape. This is the new battleground royale, with almost all major maisons throwing in a hat or two into the ring. For this landscape survey, we consider only models offered in stainless steel.
Right off the bat, we have competition from Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak and the now discontinued Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711. Both share the Genta heritage with the Ingenieur. We also have the Vacheron Constantin’s Overseas which is a derivative from Georg Hysek’s 222, and the Girard-Perregaux Laureato from an unknown Italian designer. But we should also consider the Chopard Alpine Eagle, the Moser Streamliner, the Czapek Antarctique and the Piaget Polo. Even the Bell & Ross BR-05 line offers some options.
The IWC Ingenieur Automatic 40 is a very handsome watch. The aesthetics are just right. The right amount of ruggedness and testosterone injected into the right amount of finesse and elegance.
We think it is a great watch as an entry level candidate, to be considered with the competitors in a similar pricing. Yes, we do egret that the entry bar has risen to these levels these days, but the general field represented by the Laureato, the Alpine Eagle, the Streamliner and the Antarctique all fall within the same ball park. With the Overseas and Royal Oak punching in at even higher levels.
Wow, it also comes with a soft-iron inner case? That must be the reason it costs even more than a submariner. Those damn soft-iron inner cases must be costing a lot to produce these days. But, I’m glad iwc is not cutting corners and still is putting this feature inside. Even though iwc is biting the bullet and keeping the price as low as they can! Boy, they really value their customer base. Makes me want to run right out and get one, before they realize their mistake and raise the price!
At this price I intend to purchase as many as I can get my grubby hands on so you had better move quickly, Magoo!
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