Here it is. The new Ingenieur family.
IWC´s new flagship is introduced in three basic references: a regular model (reference IW3227), a mid-size model (reference IW4515) and, for the first time in the Ingenieur line, a mechanical chronograph (reference IW3725). The line-up is completed by two "Edition AMG" variants with Titanium cases.
To each his own - as we will see, all of them are special.
Starting with the regular model, on first view the Ingenieur Automatic is a very modern approach.
It is a large watch representing design elements known from the reference 1832 "Jumbo" model, such as an integrated bracelet, a large bezel featuring the typical five holes and a clear legible dial. Thus it is easily identified both as an IWC Ingenieur and bearer of a real heritage, while being new and innovative at the same time. This combination is not easily achieved by every recent successor of a well known model and while the Ingenieur clearly is not a watch for everyone, personally i regard it a very successfull bridge between tradition and innvation. Therefore odds are good the design will seduce not only followers of the post-1976 Ingenieurs, particularly as large watches, such as the "Portugieser" range, are nothing new in the portfolio of IWC.
The dimensions of 42.5 mm in diameter and 14.5mm in height certainly cater the current preference for larger cases and a decidedly masculine look.
But the Ingenieur is not intentionally large only; the external qualities do speak for themselves, including a solid three-part stainless steel case with integrated IWC metal bracelet, both screw-down back and crown and a sapphire glass bearing antireflective coating on both sides.
It would not be a true IWC watch if it were not well in line with IWC´s philosophy and traditions in the field of sports watches.
And thus it is no surprise to learn the large case of course offers hidden values justifying the size, even when considering the "heart" of the new Ingenieur measures 30mm in diameter only.
The new Ingenieur Automatic offers traditional key features of the Ingenieur range; first of all it is highly protected against magnetic fields, which are apt to influence the proper function and accuracy of the movement.
This antimagnetic shielding is achieved by use of a soft-iron inner case, which is typical for Ingenieur models of past 50 years. Like early models of the Ingenieur range, the antimagnetic protection of the new Ingenieur Automatic does include the dial and thus forms a "Faraday cage", which guarantees protection against magnetic fields of up to 80,000 A/m (amperes per metre). This result considerably surpasses the required Swiss standards for antimagnetic watches of 4800 A/m.
In addition, the case and crystal is water-resistant up to 120m depth and, much like the famous MK XI model, low pressure (which can cause displacement of the crystal in case of a drop in air pressure).
Therefore it can and should be noted the casework of the Ingenieur is unusually elaborate and almost understated, with many of the features hidden behind the solid back. It is a piece of classic Schaffhausen craftmanship and engineering. And it is a substantial piece: the weight of the new Ingenieur Automatic including the bracelet of 216 gramms does not make this a light watch.
Nonetheless, the true value is the new movement caliber 80110, representing a first for IWC and the watchmaking world in several aspects.
Inner values: IWC manufacture caliber 80110
The highlight of IWC´s new flagship certainly is the new manufacture made caliber 80110 automatic movement.
The new caliber 80110 does represent a major achievement for the Schaffhausen brand in many aspects. Historically, it is the first newly developed manufacture movement with less than 37mm diameter since four decades ago. And it is the latest family member in a line of movements which made IWC famous, with it´s brethren, such as the famous caliber 8541, frequently referred to as some of the technically best movements ever made.
As we will see, the new caliber 80110 does follow this tradition; but rather than being a retro-design, it offers some new and surprising solutions including the use of new materials.
On first view, IWC´s latest addition seems to be surprising similar to previous movements. This visual relation is probably not uncalled for; according to the details known so far, it is designed to be a sturdy, reliable, effective, service-friendly and long-term accurate micro-machine.
In this the new caliber 80110 follows the same principles as earlier creations by the Schaffhausen brand, which may be regarded corner stones of the brand´s fame.
The new caliber 80110 again makes use of Albert Pellaton´s ingenious invention, the famous winding system with rockers and pawls that is know from earlier movements by IWC, but recent additions like the 5000 caliber family as well. The Pellaton winding is widely regarded as a most effective and reliable bi-directional winding system; 50 years of use do speak for themselve in this regard.
As we see, a key issue during development was shock protection and as we will see later, it is achieved by unique solutions. IWC claims the result to be the "definite improvement of the integrated shock-absorbing system" and the new caliber 80110 automatic movement to come with "the most effective protection against jolts and jarring".
Another familiar feature is the special shock protection by means of a flexible rotor bridge; the rotor bearing rests on a "S-shape" bridge which allows bending in case of lateral and horizontal shocks. This is achieved by mounting the rotor bridge with two attachment points only; this way, the S-shaped "arm" positioned on the opposite perimeter remains flexible. Again, this is a construction known from early IWC automatic movements and it´s proven to work exceptionally well.
But the visual similarity ends on closer view.
The first major difference is, much like the case, the size of the movement. A comparison may clearify:
IWC last manufactory-made automatic caliber 8541 was measuring 12.5 ligne (28mm) in diameter and 5.9mm in height; the new caliber 80110 does exceed these dimensions, measuring 30mm in width and 7.20m in height.
And again, the additional space does not remain unused.
Apparently all parts are significantly thicker than their predecessors; an aspect usually indicating a more sturdy construction. But it would not be IWC to increase the mass only, without caring for the details; an example is the re-designed rotor, which now is crafted with cut-out sections that increase flexibility in case of severe horizontal shocks.
In this regard, a magic formula is Delrin®.
DuPont Delrin® acetal polyoxymethylene (POM) resins are highly versatile engineering polymers that bridge the gap between metals and ordinary plastics; a sturdy yet flexible material known of applications such as break pads for inline skates.
IWC went out of the box and placed "bumper pads" underneath the rotor; this way, the flexible rotor weight may touch the movement plate and bridges in case of extremely severe impacts on the watch case, but due to the use of the Delrin pads no harm can happen to the plates themselves.
It is an application much in the spirit of IWC; seemingly simple and most effective. It is the first application of this kind in any watch movement and promising to work extremely well; a material sturdy enough to be used as a break pad is likely to withstand the forces in a watch movement even more easily, while being flexible enough not to scratch any other parts. From my perspective this makes a perfect addition to the especially shock-protected layout of caliber 80110 and to my understanding it is an inventions that really makes a lot of sense, with some real value added for any future customer.
The only downside - hardly any owner will be able to see the new pads, as they remain invisible in the assembled movement.