The entire watch industry is full of competitive and profitable Swiss brands fighting against manufacturers from other countries and each other to be on the top. Brands like Rolex, Patek Philippe, and Omega are widely celebrated and recognized by watch collectors and enthusiasts anywhere. But there is another Swiss watch brand that deserves to get the same attention. That is the International Watch Company Schaffhausen or IWC as it is more popularly known.
IWC is well-known for creating durable and high-quality aviation and diving watches. IWC is also famous for creating timepieces for scientists and technicians, thanks to their robustness and functionality. Among the most popular watches made by IWC is the Ingenieur introduced in the mid-1950s. It was a time when IWC’s popularity was starting to grow. This article will introduce some of the facts about Ingenieur that every watch collector should know.
Name and Origins of the Ingenieur
If you could speak or understand French, you would already know that the word “Ingenieur” is French for “engineer” and was derived from Old French and Medieval Latin. With unique features such as water and anti-magnetic resistance, this name is a perfect fit for a watch that wants to market itself to scientists and technicians. The term “Ingenieur” is also a brilliant description for a timepiece that honours the craftsmanship, practicality, technicians, and scientists possess. While the town where IWC was established, Schaffhausen, was a German-speaking town located in Switzerland, French terms such as Haute Horlogerie and manufacture d’horlogerie were commonly used in the watch world. Furthermore, the technical director of the IWC in the 1950s and 1960s, Albert Pellaton, hailed from the French-speaking part of Switzerland.
The first-ever Ingenieur was released in 1955. The people at IWC were committed to making a watch that could resist magnetic forces, water-tight, and protect itself from shock. They also made sure that this watch, called the Ingenieur Reference 666, was precise and practical. Since then, the IWC continued to release newer versions of Ingenieur with different looks and styles. No two Ingenieurs are the same in terms of design, as each design represents an other period in this watch’s history.
The Ingenieur’s Design and Style
Ingenieur have different designs depending on the features introduced to them and the year when they were first reproduced. In the physical aspects of the Ingenieur, all Ingenieur watches have a round watch bezel with five screws. In addition, older Ingenieur watches also feature stainless steel watch straps, while other versions use leather bands. They also have a 46-hour power reserve system which is not typical for most watches. Many Ingenieur watches have a date indicator. Meanwhile, there is the Ingenieur Constant-Force Tourbillon which contains a moon phase feature, power reserve indicator, and of course, a tourbillon. This Ingenieur watch is also the most expensive of its kind in the market, going around USD 180,000.
Ingenieur watch was released in the mid-1950s, it experienced a design revival thanks to Gerald Genta. Many of the watches that he designed often receive widespread acclaim, and his most prominent designs include Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak and Patek Philippe’s Nautilus. These two watches became cult classics, especially for Audemars Piguet, whose popularity skyrocketed when the Royal Oak was released. As for the Ingenieur SL Jumbo, which was introduced during the quartz crisis that rocked the watch industry, it might not have garnered the same amount of attention as Royal Oak and Nautilus did. But Genta did a great job in making the Ingenieur the IWC’s most popular watch family. To this day, many collectors scramble over the Ingenieur, and the IWC’s website itself even published an article providing the best Ingenieur watches that collectors should take a look at.
A Swiss Watch with an American Flair
For this, let’s focus less on the Ingenieur and give more attention to the company itself. The roots and origins of the IWC as a company are somehow related to the Ingenieur watch line. While the IWC is known as a Swiss brand today, it was an American named Florentine Ariosto Jones, an engineer and a watchmaker, who established this company. Jones wanted to combine traditional Swiss craftsmanship with modern American technology and engineering. He also created one of the first hydroelectric factories for watchmaking in Switzerland.
Since then, the IWC switched hands until Richemont acquired the company in 2001, and they have continued to be part of this large luxury goods holding company ever since. The IWC also made several versions of the Ingenieur watch. As of 2017, the IWC released the Ingenieur Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month. This watch contains a digital-perpetual calendar as well as a chronograph function. It also comes with a 45mm watch case made from 18-karat gold. With such innovations in the Ingenieur line, watch collectors and lovers can expect that the IWC would update. The functions and style of its Ingenieur timepieces every few years.
But while waiting for such updates to happen, collectors could browse and purchase other Ingenieur watches. Ingenieur like the Ingenieur SL Jumbo made by Gerald Genta. Other options are the Ingenieur 500,000 A/M which could withstand any magnetic field. The Ingenieur Constant-Force Tourbillon, the first Ingenieur watch to feature a tourbillon complication, is also a great choice.
Saying that the Ingenieur watch is the most reputable watch family by the IWC may seem cliche or even annoying. But it is simply the truth. The IWC produced many watch families such as the Portofino and the Portugieser. Let’s also not forget the pilot’s watches that also made the IWC very popular. However, these watches are different from the craftsmanship and engineering quality that the Ingenieur watch line represents.
The Ingenieur may seem like a classy and sleek dress watch that you can wear for any occasion, but it was a watch primarily meant for the technical person. It was built to honour the practicality and technical prowess that engineers, technicians, and scientists possess. The Ingenieur was an engineer’s watch not just in function but also in style and durability.
Also Read: Top 10 Best Dive Watches Under $1000