IWC Ingenieur Perpetual Calendar Digital Date Month
Three years ago, my knowledge of the Ingenieur collection by IWC was limited to “reference 1832”, the Ingenieur SL. Raffaella, a friend of mine and a partner in the Horbiter project, she owns one and together we took it to the IWC Boutique in Piazza di Spagna for a general overhaul. She cherishes it jealously, as it became a collector's piece, the first true Ingenieur, designed by Gerald Genta. My familiarity with this collection has grown over the years, at the same time as IWC has revolutionized it.
The Ingenieur has never been among my favourite IWC to be honest (with some exceptions, such as the Big Ingenieur). I've always instinctively associated the brand to the Pilot or the Portugieser collections. When IWC, however, releases a new super complicated timepiece, I'm talking about a perpetual calendar in particular, my interest grows and the concept of “collection” loses some of its meaning, in my opinion. Each collection from the brand (except the Portofino) features a perpetual calendar; in the case of the Ingenieur, it is the IWC Ingenieur Perpetual Calendar Digital Date Month. It clearly means that this is the brand's mainstream; I do believe IWC to be the only brand today to offer such a wide line-up of watches with this complication: sporty, classic, even a diver's watch.
IWC super-complicated watches are available at the brand’s retailers, and the one in Piazza di Spagna especially deserves a visit if you appreciate special editions; here you may find for example the Pilot Top Gun Boutique Edition collection and the Pilot Collector's Forum. The very last Ingenieur collection draws inspiration from the partnership with the F1 reigning Champion Team, the AMG Mercedes, and the IWC Ingenieur Perpetual Calendar Digital Date Month is the sportiest complicated watch on offer at IWC right now. Its case is 46mm wide and is made of titanium aluminide, a compound of aluminum and titanium that General Electric adopts, for instance, in making the blades that equip the Boeing 787's turbine engines; it offers lightness and a superior resistance to oxidation and corrosion at high temperatures (600°C). It represent an essential addition, as the difference with any other titanium alloy used in watchmaking is huge and difficult to appreciate by simply looking at the watch itself.
The bezel is joint to the case via five zirconium oxide screws (i.e. Ceramics). Technically commendable, although I would have gone for a “neater” esthetical solution, such as in the Constant Force Tourbillon, where the bezel's width has been reduced in favour of the dial width, and there are no visible screws. It is perhaps a technical solution needed to join a four-part case, as you can see via the side view, from where you can also see that the chrono pushers are made of zirconium-oxide like the crown and its protectors.
The dial has three digital counters, which would appeal to a motoring fan as well as to those who are passionate about numerical series. Date and month digital visualization, each of them operated via two separated discs covered by a smoked glass, resembles the kind of engine equipped with a cascade gearing power supply, while the white lines around them remind me of a Formula 1's steering wheel from some years ago (below is a 2000 Ferrari F1's steering wheel replica).
What is the main esthetical and technical difference from an IWC Pilot Top Gun Perpetual Calendar (and a Spitfire Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month too?) The best time to find out might be the 31st of December at midnight: in that precise moment, all the discs rotate simultaneously (and are fully visible) updating day, month as well as the leap year indication, placed in a counter at 6. A layout that, for a moment, would make you think you are wearing a watch with an un-destructured hours visualization, if it wasn’t for the central hours and minutes hands, and a small counter at 12, for tracking chrono minutes and hours, of the Flyback chronograph.
Once on the wrist, one should forget about a Pilot Perpetual Calendar's linear design (and the Spitfire's too): in that case it's all about a flat design and a uniform geometry (as with a Portugieser Perpetual Calendar). The IWC Ingenieur Perpetual Calendar Digital Date Month is the opposite: it features a multi-layer dial, where transparency is a given. If you would like to compare the two, it would be like comparing a MV Agusta F4 with its little sister, the Brutale 800 Dragster, that boasts an aggressive design, with visible engine and frame.
The case back is also transparent, and the in-house caliber 89802 has its rotor in the shape of a car's alloy wheel. Like it or not, the IWC Ingenieur Perpetual Calendar Digital Date Month is a technological marvel and is the only perpetual calendar aimed at those people who have at least two passions: cars and watches. It is all but understated, miles away from the original Ingenieur that is in this case just a source of inspiration: technology, materials as well as its technical features make it the most eclectic among the perpetual calendars by IWC (digital and analog) and perhaps, for that reason, a true collector's piece.
(Photo credit: Google; Horbiter®'s proprietary photo-shooting)
Gaetano C. @Horbiter®