In 1955, IWC launched the Engineer. Half a century later, its latest descendant, the Engineer Automatic 2005 reached the market. Its arrival crowned 50 years of success for this legend in modern watch making. The Cote des Montres™ introduces you to the heir to the IWC brand in greater detail...
Everything started in 1944, when Albert Pellaton took the post of Technical Director at IWC, on a mission to create a new automatic rewinding system. He was to set the automatic era in motion at IWC.
IWC Engineer Automatic under the magnifying glass
Precision, toughness and innovation
History of a legend
In the early 1950s, the IWC caliber 8521 - which gave birth to the first Engineer - was at the pinnacle of modern watch making technology. The name ‘engineer’ recalls this era, when ingenious engineers were surpassing one another in every technical domain. During this period, by combining an automatic movement with the principle of antimagnetic protection, IWC technicians succeeded in making a watch simple on the outside, and extremely refined and solid on the inside, to withstand the most testing conditions. That’s why, since 1955, the Engineer has carried the technical symbol of the lightning flash.
The caliber 8521 movement first used in the Engineer was replaced by the caliber 8531, and then again in 1976, for the introduction of Gerald Genta’s famous "Engineer SL" with the caliber 8541 (production of about 800 pieces in automatic version).
At the start of the 1980s, the Engineer lost weight, and gained a slimmer mechanism along with a legend-to-be: the Engineer "millionmeter" dial.
In 1989, IWC readied the Engineer for a world record. With an escapement in anti-magnetic materials (containing neither iron or nickel), the watch was tested to 3,7 million A/m in a tomograph with a nuclear magnetic resonance (3000 pieces went on sale under the name “500,000 A/m Engineer").
Engineers that qualified for the ”Chronometer” certificate were then put on sale in a box lined with soft iron.
Since then, several variations have been added to the Engineer family:
• The "Chrono Alarm" model • Extra light version with titanium box • Pocket watch with magnetic field protection • A ladies’ chronometer
Among the essential external features:
• Round lunette with five perforations • Integrated metal bracelet
All of these distinctive signs are apparent on the 2005 Engineer models.
1955: Appearance of the Engineer calibers 852 and 8521 (19,800 semi-oscillations/ph, Pellaton rewind, inner case in soft iron.)
1958: Calibers 853 and 8531
1963: Calibers 854 and 8541 (larger date indicator, date corrector, precision adjustment and micro adjustment of balance wheel;
1976: Engineer SL designed by Gérald Genta
1980: Engineer in polished titanium
1982: Water-resistant pocket Engineer, with inner case in soft iron and mechanism mounted on rubber buffers
1983: The Engineer slimmed down and equipped with a new mechanism (28,800 semi-oscillations/ph) and the millionmeter dial.
1987: Perpetual calendar Engineer
1988: Engineer ladies’ model (caliber 631 chronograph)
1989: World record for 500,000 A/m without inner case in soft iron
1991: Engineer Chrono Alarm (caliber 633)
1993: Return to inner case in soft iron and change to caliber 887,chronometer certificate
2005: Introduction of the new IWC Engineer line
A watch that can withstand the most extreme conditions
While the IWC "Aviator" and "Aquatimer" watches were specially well-adapted to both air and water, the new Engineer is sportier. Designed to withstand shaking, vibrations, accelerations and braking, heat shock and exposure to magnetic fields; the model is more off-road sports than sports.
Protected by an inner case in soft iron that prevents all polarity, the 2005 Engineer guarantees complete protection against magnetic fields up to 80,000 Ampères per meter (A/m). That’s an impressive amount, given fhe Swiss norm for antimagnetic protection, which is only 4,800 A/m
Design and technology
The design of Automatic Engineer was inherited from its illustrious predecessor, the 1976 Engineer SL designed by Gérald Genta (to whom we owe, among others, legendary watches such as the Audemars Piguet “Royal Oak” and the famous Patek Philippe “Nautilus.”)
Engineer SL 1976
There has been no revolutionary breakthrough in the field of automatic rewinding since 1976, so IWC technicians chose to reshape an example by recalculating the data on computer. As a result of their advanced tests and analyses, they came up with major improvements to the built-in shock absorber system. Now IWC technicians can confidently declare: “The caliber 80110 is now the automatic mechanism the best protected from shock.”
No other watch making calibre has ever had to go through what the 80110 underwent during its final laboratory testing. All of the Qualified Engineer’s elements were also perfected to the last detail, making the new Engineer one of the toughest watches around.
Among other things, the "crash programme" included 60,000 consecutive shocks during which the mechanism had to withstand pressures of up to 5,000 times its own weight.
On the wrist
A real “men’s watch,” the new Engineer is very imposing. As virile and chunky as anyone could wish, it’s easy to imagine it being filmed on the wrist of a new Belmondo or Ventura. Made from the best steel, the Engineer stands out through the exceptional quality of its manufacture, and for the contrasting polished matt and brilliant pieces that go into its construction. The superb sword-shaped hands on the “Engineer” millionmeter dial are another instant attraction.
• Case: Stainless steel, diameter 42.5 mm, height 14.5 mm, inner box in soft iron for protection from magnetic fields. • Movement: Mechanical with Pellaton automatic rewind, shock absorber system, date indicator, second in centre with stop mechanism. Caliber IWC 80110 • Alternations: 28800/ph • Rubies: 28 rubies • Power Reserve: 44hrs • Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date • Crystal: Sapphire, antireflection, depressurisation resistant • Back: Stainless steel screw-in • Winding crown: Screw-in • Water resistance: 120 meters • Bracelet: Stainless steel • Weight: 216 grammes • Constructor’s reference: IW322701
Note: A range developed in partnership with the famous automobile constructor AMG is also available.
Our opinion at La Cote des Montres™
The 2005 Engineer Automatic 2005 is true to its origins, and profits from huge technical experience. As usual at IWC, everything is meticulously finished and every detail is perfect, giving the brand a head start to attract the most stylish of sports enthusiasts and adventurers looking for the ideal instrument. Our only regret with the all-steel version is its somewhat austere appearance, perhaps just a little too “engineer” and not quite “fun” enough in our opinion. But we can’t hold that against IWC, who have achieved an exceptional double by offering a magnificent heir to a legend in modern watch making and in vastly improving the endurance of an already proven mechanism.
IWC Engineer: With a head start when it comes to attracting the most stylish sports enthusiasts and adventurers looking for the ideal instrument.
Strong points • Technique • Character • Finish • Anti-magnetic • Water resistant
Weak points • Austerity (steel on steel)
Our rating: *****
We would like to thank the teams at IWC France for their precious help, which has enabled us to share with you our passion once more.
Thierry Castagna / La Cote des Montres™ Photos Luc Virginius