Famous for designing the Royal Oak and the Nautilus, Gérald Genta was tasked by IWC, at the height of the quartz crisis, to radically redesign the Ingénieur. In the early 1970s, a ‘scaphander’ diving helmet inspired Gérald Genta to adopt a distinctly modernist, technical approach to architecture. Following decades of incremental change throughout the 50s and 60s, Genta helped IWC launch its 3rd generation of the Ingénieur (in 1976) - aligning with brand’s forward-thinking strategy for a complete ‘steel line’ (SL) - for which, Gérald Genta was influential. The result was a luxury sports watch, which followed the path Audemars Piguet and Patek Philippe lead successfully throughout the early 70s. Its eye-catching design stood for toughness; rugged and sporty, with undeniable technical appeal. Further, its subtly-detailed dial, with black chequered guilloché - characteristic of Genta - is reminiscent of AP’s ‘tapisserie’ and Patek Philippe’s reflective, horizontal grooves.
As a result of this radical new approach, examples of the ref. 1832 Ingénieur SL initially got off to a slow start, recording only 598 pieces total (automatic, steel). Despite its qualities, the new Ingénieur SL was commercially unsuccessful, only adding to its rarity.
One of the key characteristics of the Ingénieur line is the watch’s resistance to magnetic interference, achieved through the case construction. This example, the ref. 1832, is housed in a 40mm stainless steel case, with a screw-down case-back. It has antimagnetic hands as well as an antimagnetic tripartite case, incorporating a further soft iron inner-plate. This creates a Faraday cage, protecting the movement from magnetic disturbances of up to 80,000 A/m (or 1000 Gauss).
The Ingénieur SL re-interprets a number of signature design elements from the Nautilus and Royal Oak - most notably, its cushion-shaped case with integrated bracelet. It displays a high level of finishing, with brushed surfaces on the case-front and polished edges, displaying 5 randomly located recesses on the flat bezel portion - unique to each watch. On the reverse, the outer-section is polished, with 6 machined cut-outs. Both the centre portion of the case-back and case-middle are satinised. The steel, three-piece case provides water resistance up to 120m, further featuring its original crown. Unusually thick by the standards of the day, it creates a noticeable presence on the wrist.
Inside the watch, the ref. 1832 boasts IWC’s in-house automatic calibre 8541B - enhanced to calibre 8541ES designation, indicating the inclusion of antimagnetic parts (E) and – like its precursor – a stop second mechanism (S). The movement is further supported by shock-absorbers, with small rubber pads mounting the soft-iron inner case. The mechanism features a Pellaton winding mechanism, 25 jewels, antimagnetic, self-compensating Breguet over-coil balance spring and shock-resistant automatic winding mechanism (with Incabloc shock-absorbing system on the balance staff), beating at a rate of 19,800 A/h. The NIVAFLEX mainspring is unbreakable, rustproof, and antimagnetic. A distinctive characteristic of IWC’s Cal. 8541ES is that unlike the JLC 920 calibre, seen in the Royal Oak and Nautilus, it features a running seconds hand, setting the Ingénieur SL apart amongst Genta’s “Jumbo” wristwatches.
According to its original guarantee, this ref. 1832 was sold by German retailer ‘Juwelier Riebel’, in November 1978; at the time, based in Regensburg. Two receipts are also supplied, confirming the watch was serviced by IWC Germany (in 2008) and IWC UK (in 2018). This ref. 1832 Ingénieur SL comes as a full-set; including an original, early IWC textured-gold box (consistent with the first generation, sold in ’78).
While not the first Ingénieur (from 1955), the ref. 1832 is perhaps the most beloved, and the one to which many of the latest Ingénieur references pay homage. This full-set, ref. 1832 therefore represents an excellent opportunity to acquire the formative reference of what is today, one of the rarest “Jumbo” vintage sports watches.
Viewings can be arranged in Central London by appointment.