The IWC Big Ingenieur Chronograph was first presented at the annual SIHH-2009 show that was held in Geneva, Switzerland. Although as cold and impartial as a man can be, I must confess however that this gorgeous timekeeper currently tops my list of IWC’s Most Wanted Watches being second only to the recently revealed Da Vinci Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month time-measuring device.
Founded in 1868 by an American entrepreneur Florentine Ariosto Jones (it is now a part of the vast Richemont International SA Group empire,) the Swiss watchmaker is not particularly old by the local standards.
However, compared to some “legendary” trademarks that went tits up in the second part of the XIX century only to be resurrected in the 1990s by “international investors” on the wave of interest in “Swiss watches,” the International Watch Company went through more than 140 years of its history without major disruptions.
More than that, its current model range is an evolution of the collections that IWC has introduced in the first half of the XX century and had decades to mature and evolve, like a good vine.
The Ingenieur collection, for example, made its debute more than fifty years ago.
Being IWC’s first self-winding timepiece with an antimagnetic shield, for the three consecutive generations it was an icon of a clean and simple watch designed to serve the daily needs of men “with occupations”.
The watch gained a lot of extra weight, became bigger and bolder, and… duller.
Although IWC’s marketing keeps calling the Jumbo Ingenieur a “classic” model, in reality, it was a disaster. The collection just didn’t sell.
Nevertheless, all consecutive Engineers feature the same gargantuan proportions of the first Jumbo. Fortunately, the latest models look more like bodybuilders in great shape rather than sumo wrestlers in the off-season.
Just like most modern Engineers, this one features a pair of prominent baton-shaped hour and minute hands, a black dial with an inner part decorated in a brick-like pattern and applied “Ingenieur” and “IWC Schaffhausen” logos, and a pair of chronograph dials on the 6 and 12 o’clock.
Hour markers are also applied by hand and filled with some fluorescent compound (probably, nothing fancier than Superluminova though.) The bezel features a tachymeter scale that serves a purely decorative purpose.
Generally, it looks like the next iteration of the Ingenieur Automatic Chronograph 3725-01, but more elegant and subtle.
Inside its large case (it is 45.5mm in diameter and 14.5mm thick) is ticking an in-house IWC 89360 self-winding caliber with a power reserve of 68 hours. First revealed two years ago and originally designed by Stefan Ihnen for the Da Vinci family, the caliber is a Porsche Flat Six in the watchmaking world where the omnipresent Valjoux 7750 movement is just a practical mass-produced VW diesel.
All in all, the Big Ingenieur Chronograph leaves an impression of a very, um, masculine timepiece, making your average metrosexual human being feel uncomfortable with its weight, as well as the size and the mojo.
Like all Engineers, this model features a highly legible dial, a pair of easy-to-operate push-pieces, and a reasonably big crown. Well, those tiny hands on the chronograph dials could have been a trifle larger as well as the seconds hand and the date window, but overall this is a beautiful watch.
The company stays mum about the price, but I would guesstimate that they will charge around €6,000 for the stainless steel model and closer to €10,000 for the version in rose gold. Potential pricing for the platinum version gives me the shivers.
IWC Big Ingenieur Chronograph specification
Price range: $40,000 for the gold and $70,000 for the platinum
Movement: IWC Caliber 89360, automatic, in-house, Swiss Made
Complications: Chronograph, date
Power reserve: 68 hours
Case: Rose gold or platinum or stainless steel (ref. IW378406), transparent case-back with sapphire crystal
Dimensions: 45.50 mm
Height: 14.50 mm
Water resistance: 12 ATM (120 meters)
Strap: Brown alligator leather with a folding clasp
Crystal: Sapphire, anti-reflective