Sunday, October 6, 2013

IWC Ingenieur Reference IW3236 - A Substantial Watch With Historical Ties to Great Names

I will focus and provide a hands-on opinion on IWC Ingenieur Reference IW3236 watch, commonly known as The Ingenieur Automatic Mission Earth i.e. the IW323604 version.

This watch is substantial. The case diameter is 46 mm (excluding crown) while its height is 15 mm. With such dimensions, you need to have a good size wrist to carry it confidently. In my case, my wrist is 7.5 inch in circumference and yet, the watch still looks sizeable.

The GĂ©rald Genta design philosophy can still be seen in this particular example. The original Ingenieur designed by Genta (the SL1832 Ingenieur and its reproduction, the IW3227) was just 42.5 mm in diameter. This supersized version has two notable additions to make it pleasing to the eye. The first are the crown guards and the second is the lack of sharpness on the edges of the casing. The former makes this watch looks sporting while the second helps it from not getting easily snagged against cuffs etc.

In the picture below, the 15 mm height of the case is not that obvious because it is masked by the substantially thick stainless steel bracelet. Due to the smoother edges, it moves in and out of shirt cuffs easily.

The Ingenieur Automatic Mission Earth was designed for the outdoors. Its in-house movement has an integrated shock absorber. Water-resistant to 12 bar, this watch can withstand magnetic fields of up to 80,000 amperes per metre. The additional soft-iron inner casing to protect the movement from magnetic influences is major reason for the height of the watch.

Inside this watch ticks IWC’s in-house caliber 80110 movement. The Pellaton winding system is the cornerstone of the 80000-calibre family. This winding system, designed by Albert Pellaton in 1950 features IWC's first automatic winding mechanism. The innovative pawl-winding system replaces the traditional reciprocal gearing and patented by IWC.

The bracelet is not like any bracelet you expect to find anywhere. In the picture below, the bracelet is flushed to the skin and the clasp integrates easily with the end-links. A heavy piece of engineering design, it hides a very important mechanism.

One of the most time consuming (and stressful, if I could add!) exercise is sizing. The thought of bringing hard tools to help disengage the bracelet pins while requiring a steady hand and confidence is scary. The likelihood of scratching is very high.

To this end, IWC has incorporated a very ingenious mechanism in every link in the bracelet which allows one to disengage the bracelet pins with just a simple push with a thin object (such as a wooden toothpick). In the photo below, you will note the circle at the centre of every link. Push on the center of the point and the link pins will disconnect and you can start your resizing quickly and effortlessly. Having this capability does have its cost. A replacement bracelet could set you back by a couple of thousand USD and it contributes substantially to the overall weight of the watch. My advice: if you ever get a chance to buy this watch, chose the bracelet model. It is always cheaper to get leather or rubber replacement then the other way around.

This watch does not have a display case back. The steel case back is also plain without any graphics etched on it.

Despite its size and weight, this watch is comfortable to wear. More importantly, it can be worn during formal functions as well. This makes this watch an all-rounder.

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