A YEAR ON THE WRIST: How I fell in love with the IWC Ingenieur and became a one-watch guyMatt Pickering
A lot can change in the space of a year. It was exactly this time last year, as I was preparing to attend my first Watches and Wonders, that I decided to mark the occasion with a new watch. I’d worked through a few different references during the 12 months prior and nothing had really stuck. Essentially, I was after a versatile piece that I could wear most days. Previous entrants included an Explorer One MK II in 39mm (very cool watch, but it wasn’t love) and a Vacheron Overseas Dual Time (thought it was my grail watch – now I firmly believe there’s no such thing). Both were amazing in their way, but were just missing that elusive something to get them over the line from casual dating to full-time romance.
The thrill of the chase and the journey in researching watches has always been a huge draw for me – sometimes to my own detriment – so I had way too many options on my list. I’d always been a fan of the original IWC Ingenieur but not of the current generation that stray too far away from the original DNA for my liking. The 3239 reference was definitely a sleeper hit to me but I couldn’t get my hands on an example to try and wasn’t prepared to take the plunge without seeing it in the metal. Eventually, I was lucky enough to source a piece from the local boutique. It was “new-old stock” and hadn’t been worn before so I was immediately very keen to get hands on.
Once I put it on the wrist, I felt… Instantly impressed with the build quality. It sits extremely low on the wrist (with a height of just under 10mm) and the case and bracelet mould themselves perfectly around my wrist. It had that slight heft which I like and appreciate in a luxury watch without feeling bulky. I ended up with the white /silver dial (full reference IW323904). Originally, I thought I’d want the black-dialled version but after seeing the ivory white dial for myself it was obvious that this was the one that had my attention (more on the dial below). The watch does wear bigger than the 40mm case suggests due to the integrated bracelet and crown guards. I’d say it feels like a 42mm which is absolutely fine with me. The thinness of the case definitely offset any feelings of being oversized. After spending 15 or so minutes with it on the wrist I knew I had to have it.
Looks-wise… I think it just rocks. While I love the overall package the dial is the thing that constantly draws me in. Being a dad to a young, very energetic child means there aren’t a lot of moments to pause and relax, yet pretty much every morning after the school drop while I waited for the train into the T+T office, I’d look down at the dial in a moment of mindfulness and just smile without ever really looking at the time. I’d more often than not whip out the phone for a quick wrist shot as every time I found something else about the dial I wanted to capture. After substantial time on the wrist there are some significant scratches and nicks but they all add character and help make the watch truly unique.
I’d wear this with … Literally anything. I’ve worn this watch to the beach, while snorkelling in the ocean, to formal events and everything in between. It wasn’t out of place – to me at least – in any scenario. Its 120m of water resistance is also way more than I’ll ever need, so I had no issues taking it away on vacation and using it as my pseudo dive watch. I picked up the black OEM rubber strap for it and it’s even more versatile, moving from a slightly elevated, elegant look to a true sports watch. The light dial also popped more with my standard navy wardrobe to get me through the Melbourne winter.
If I could change anything … The biggest gripe I have is with the lack of micro-adjust on the bracelet. So many brands, including IWC, have great micro adjust settings on bracelets these days. While adjusting this bracelet is relatively simple due to the push button design of the links, I found myself having to carry around a spare half link to keep up with the constant weather changes and swelling of my wrist which, to be honest, I hardly noticed until I started wearing this watch full time. The rubber strap is great though so I did rock it this way most of the summer, but I just feel the watch works so much better on the bracelet. I couldn’t go more than a few days without changing it back to the bracelet. Also some different colourways for the rubber strap would have been amazing. I can’t shake the idea of a white rubber strap on this bad boy. Sadly there aren’t many quality after-market options so this will have to remain a fantasy.
While I’m not really a big movement guy (come at me haters – I’m ready for you) the 42 hours of power reserve could be better. But the trade off of using the IWC calibre 30110 (based on the very reliable ETA 2892-A2) is the thinness on the wrist, something I appreciate more than a longer power reserve or in-house movement which would have jacked the price up substantially. The anti-magnetic element is definitely reassuring knowing that it’ll keep perfect time.
One year on … The IWC Ingenieur is still very much on my wrist 95% of the time. It’s been with me almost exactly a year and has become the watch which my son identifies with me the most. Whenever we go on an outing and he sees me grab my keys and watch from the bedside table he runs into his room to grab his Spider-Man Flik Flak and put it on his wrist. It’s become the first watch I feel emotionally tied to and couldn’t see ever leaving my collection. While I’ll hopefully add another watch to my collection later this year, I won’t be selling this to fund the next purchase. I’d also wager it’ll still spend a significant amount of time on the wrist over the next 12 months.