Historic and Modern Race Tracks – Home of the IWC Ingenieur
Fourth time #F1 Champion Congratulation once again @LewisHamilton and @MercedesAMGF1 awesome team work #4TheTeam #IWCRacing #MexicoGP #LH44 – that was the tweet that the Swiss watch manufacturer IWC Schaffhausen congratulated its brand ambassador Lewis Hamilton with after the F1 Mexican Grand Prix. He first got behind the wheel of a kart at the age of eight, and became the youngest Formula One World Champion ever at the end of the 2008 F1 season. Now it's already his fourth time.
If we look closely at the F1 "peloton", we can see that many of the cars are "driving" some kind of watch. The history of IWC dates back to 1868, and it is now one of the best-known Swiss watch brands around. Since 2013, IWC has been the Official Engineering Partner of the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team. Together, the two companies have a name for their shared passion: they call it “performance engineering”.
In this partnership, there is more than one interesting coincidence, although perhaps they are simply logical connections. Schaffhausen, where IWC is located, is in north-eastern Switzerland, in the German-speaking part of the country – on the shore of the High Rhine and right next to the German border. This is my subjective opinion, but IWC watches have German spirit: their design is clear, logical, and – if you can put it this way – precise, never overloaded with unnecessary or excessive ornamentation.
IWC head designer Christian Knoop once told me in an interview:
Ask a child to draw a watch and it will look like an IWC. It is the archetype of a watch.
This is the IWC design concept and the watchmaker adheres to it consistently, avoiding temptations to make sudden changes that short gusts of the winds of fashion pose for many. It is also not surprising that IWC has a partnership in motor sport and that the German-speaking partner is in the neighbourhood. IWC's first Mercedes AMG model debuted in 2005, and the watchmaker has been the Official Engineering Partner of Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport since 2013. Attention should be drawn to the original wording: rather than being a traditional "sponsor" or a more sophisticated "timekeeper" or the like, it is an "engineering partner".
Lewis Hamilton is a committed brand ambassador for IWC, playing active parts in his ambassador roles, even lending a hand in designing a special edition watch — the Ingenieur Chronograph Edition Lewis Hamilton. That was in 2015, and this year IWC overhauled its line of Ingenieur watches, which first debuted in 1955 with the minimalist three-hand design (Ref. 666). This is basically a return to the collection's roots.
“The new collection is very much inspired by these early Ingenieur models, so the watch family is definitely going back to its roots. The influence is clear to see in the simple round case as well as in the dial with its striking hands and indices with luminescent elements,” explains Christoph Grainger-Herr, the new CEO of IWC Schaffhausen. The Ingenieur family has a vintage character and is lighter and more elegant in its overall appearance. The new collection covers a lot of bases with three automatic models, four IWC-manufactured chronographs and a limited-edition reference with perpetual calendar.
The Ingenieur Automatic is a simple watch with three hands, a date window at “3 o’clock” and a case measuring 40 millimetres in diameter. Three versions are available. Two of the models feature a stainless-steel case and rhodium-plated hands and indices. The third version is the Reference IW357003, which has an 18-carat red gold case and a black alligator leather strap.
The Ingenieur Chronograph is driven by the new IWC-manufactured 69375 calibre with a bidirectional pawl-winding system and a power reserve of 46 hours. Two of the versions are available with a stainless-steel case and strap which is exceptionally comfortable to wear and has a fine-adjustment clasp integrated into the buckle. The third version comes in 18-carat red gold with a slate-coloured dial, gold-plated hands and a black alligator leather strap.
The Ingenieur Chronograph Sport is driven by the IWC-manufactured 89361-calibre movement and is limited to just 500 watches. The 44-millimetre titanium case, black dial and black calfskin strap. The small seconds hand in the shape of a lightning bolt at “6 o’clock” is a reminder that a soft-iron cage protects the movement against the negative influence of magnetic field.
The top-of-the-range model is the Ingenieur Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month. The perpetual calendar automatically recognizes the different lengths of the months, including the leap day occurring every four years. The IWC-manufactured 89801 calibre also features a chronograph function. The timepiece with a 45-millimetre 18-carat red gold case, silver-plated dial, black hands and black alligator leather strap is limited to just 100 watches.