(Hands-On)The Genta IWC Ingenieur Era Returns With New Automatic 40

The Ingenieur pivots back to its Gerald Genta design era this year with the introduction of a new collection that references the Ingenieur SL, reference 1832 from 1976. This is a move we (and likely, many of you) have anticipated since asking IWC CEO Chris Grainger about it back in 2021 on the Worn & Wound podcast (listen to that episode right here). The new Ingenieur collection welcomes three steel references that feature unique textured dials in silver, black, and aqua, and a full titanium reference with a gray dial. Each feature the new integrated bracelet design made famous by Genta in the ‘70s that we last saw in 2013 with the Ingenieur reference 3239. The new Inge takes a slightly softer approach and places an emphasis on ergonomics, and during our time with the watch in London last month, found it to be exactly that. This is the new Ingenieur Automatic 40 and yes, it still has a soft-iron inner case. 

The Ingenieur has a rather interesting history that reaches back to 1955 with the reference 666, where it embraced a classic round shape and simple dial befitting of the era. It was launched around the same time as the Rolex Milgauss, and filled a similar role, making use of a soft-iron inner case to protect the movement from magnetic influence (up to 80,000 Amperes per meter). The name has roots in Old French and Medieval Latin, according to IWC, evolving from “ingeniator” or “one who makes or uses an engine”. The word Inegnieur evokes a similar vibe, and brings broader connotations of the word engineer into play in the process. While early Ingenieurs were certainly handsome watches, the watch wouldn’t get its first truly distinctive overhaul until 1976.


Gerald Genta has become something of a household name in the watch communities these days, and deservedly so for his incredibly prolific career accolades. In the ‘70s, Genta was a busy man who would ultimately prove to have something of a golden touch with integrated steel sport watches. This began in 1972 with the Royal Oak, and took another notable step in 1976, which saw the release of both the Patek Philippe Nautilus, and the IWC Ingenieur. Each of these watches share thematic similarities, yet all three stand on their own with a distinctive design language that each of the brands have sustained and evolved over the subsequent generations. 

The original Jumbo SL reference 1832

It would be the IWC Ingenieur that would see the most iterations during its tenure in the IWC stable, taking a variety of forms that referenced the original Genta design in some form or another. But it’s never gone directly back to its roots. Until now, that is. This new Ingenieur is a fitting tribute to the original design, faithfully capturing the soft charm of the original in subtle and not so subtle ways alike. At the preview in London, Évelyne Genta was on hand to discuss her late husband’s work, and spoke of his deep reverence for IWC as a brand (as well as Seiko, as a matter of fact). She also helped to authenticate his original Ingenieur sketches for IWC, tying his work directly to their history.

From L to R: Original SL reference 1832, reference 3239 from 2013, new references 3289 in white and black, reference 3508

No huge surprises there, but what is the newest effort in the Ingenieur range really like? In a word: unique

The new Ingenieur collection of 3289 references get a 40mm case that has a soft taper toward the edges, and replaces the stiff central link of the 3239’s integrated bracelet with an articulating one, doing wonders for wearability. The case is a touch over 10mm thick, with a thoughtful profile that tucks a fair bit of that thickness under the case wall. The H-link bracelet uses trimmer link pieces than the 3239 that drapes more naturally around the wrist, terminating with a butterfly clasp. The case and bracelet get a brushed finish with polished chamfers at nearly every edge. It’s an interesting design as a whole that offers no shortage of great angles, and feels less aggressive than previous Ingenieur designs, relying instead on the gentle slopes and near pillow shape of the original reference 1832. On my 7.25 inch wrist the watch presents very little fuss, and I suspect it will be a similar story on most wrists it encounters.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the new Ingenieur is the dial. IWC has teased out the flat pattern of the original, and brought it to life in a very different way, providing the biggest departure from early references. Here, the pattern and texture has been amplified and the effect is dramatic. Depending on the light and the viewing angle, the dial can take on very different personalities. This is particularly notable on the aqua colored dial, which can range from dark blue to light teal with warm undertones. The pattern itself transitions between squares of horizontal lines, and small blocks tiled against one another. It’s highly structured, and there’s a lot more depth here than you might realize. 

As a result of this pattern and how light interacts with it, each of the three dials vary quite a bit in personality. There is a fourth option available on an all-titanium version, which brings a gray and black colorway to the party, and appears a bit more subdued as a result. Likewise, the aqua dial is the only example to get a polished center link in its bracelet. No word on alternate integrated strap options just yet, but given their popularity among watches like this these days, I’d be surprised if we didn’t see something down the road. While on the subject, sorry, there is no quick adjustment mechanism present in this bracelet, which is a semi-serious oversight these days, especially in this price range. With some half-links, finding the right fit shouldn’t be too difficult, but the ease of letting a bit out during the way is sorely missed.

Setting that aside, this is an exceptionally comfortable watch on the wrist thanks in large part to the bracelet design and execution. It has captured the softness of the original, and there is only one exception when it comes to the case, which may feel out of place to you, which is the crown guard. The original Jumbo SL had no crown guard, and while it doesn’t feel wildly out of place, its presence here adds some visual heft to the case overall that I’m not sure is to its benefit. It’s slim and doesn’t get in the way of wearability, but I’m curious as to how this design would play without them. When I look at a watch like the Girard-Perregaux Laureato, it feels a bit more natural without any fussiness around the crown. The Laureato is a very similar watch in many ways, and I suspect will be cross shopped against this Ingenieur with some frequency. We’ll have a side by side soon enough, but in the meantime, where do you fall on the issue of crown guards here?

IWC is using the in-house manufacture caliber 32111 (made by Richemont’s Val Fleurier) within the new Ingenieur, where it sits behind a closed caseback. It’s the same movement you’ll find pulling duty over in the Pilot’s range in watches like the Mark XX. This is a 5-day movement with 120 hours of reserve, packing a hefty punch within its small frame. This is the brand’s most robust simple movement, with just a date complication present at 3 o’clock on the dial. There is no full balance bridge, but the arm serving as the bridge appears hewn out of the three quarter plate, with a single large screw holding it in place. This piece itself presents something of a full bridge for the balance staff and bearing with shock absorbing collar on top. The escape wheel and pallet lever are made of silicon, providing extra anti-magnetic properties. 

The three steel Ingenieur references will be priced at $11,700, while the titanium reference will be $14,600. This represents a shift north from watches like the Mark XX, but it’s important to remember that getting a bracelet like this right is no small manufacturing task, and I suspect it is this component that is responsible for much of the jump. This is a touch over $3,000 short of the steel Laureato MSRP, which houses a more historically significant movement and a similar bracelet integration with unique dial texture. First impression of the IWC had me thinking that’s the bracelet I’d opt for between the two. It is seriously good, but the long-term jury on the 32000 series of movements is still out. 

Overall the new Ingeniuer revives a deeply revered design from IWC’s history, and does so in a markedly premium manner. While the watch does honor that history, this also feels like a modern watch through and through, rather than a retro-inspired reissue. There’s nothing forced here. This is the most natural expression of the design in many years, and I’d say it was worth the wait. 

We’ll have more on the new Ingenieur soon, as well as a discussion with IWC CEO Chris Grainger about the Inge’s return. Until then, enjoy our hands-on shots and first impression video between myself and Zach Weiss above. IWC.

Images from this post:
Related Posts
Blake is a Wisconsin native who’s spent his professional life covering the people, products, and brands that make the watch world a little more interesting. Blake enjoys the practical elements that watches bring to everyday life, from modern Seiko to vintage Rolex. He is an avid writer and photographer with a penchant for cars, non-fiction literature, and home-built mechanical keyboards.