On the Genta Bandwagon: The IWC Ingenieur Automatic 40

Timepieces featuring integrated bracelets have been popular in the collecting world for decades now. The Royal Oak and Nautilus have always been the iconic models that anchor the category, but there are countless other derivative, unimaginative models that have been released by other brands just to cash in on the craze. Some lucky brands have designs in their archives that they’re able to pull from, often leading to more interesting and thoughtful releases. While IWC had moved away from their Genta-designed Ingenieur of the 1970’s, they (thankfully!) decided to revisit it for their 2023 update of the model line.


The original ref. 666 Ingenieur was released all the way back in 1954. Showcasing anti-magnetic technology, impressive water resistance, and a new in-house movement, the model was a step towards the highly capable everyday watch that is so loved by collectors today. Marketed towards engineers, scientists, and sporting persons, the first Ingenieur was intended as a tool watch but found fans outside of scientific fields for its handsome design and durability. 

In the 1970’s, IWC decided that it was time to modernize the Ingenieur. Wanting to come up with a heavier, full-stainless-steel model, the brand tapped a previous collaborator, Gerald Genta, for help. Genta had worked on a chronograph for IWC in the 1960’s, which was sadly never released. Genta was working as a freelance designer at the time and was commissioned by IWC to update the Ingenieur. Delivering his design to IWC in 1974, the Ingenieur SL ref. 1832 debuted to the public in 1976. Nicknamed the Jumbo, the model was not an overnight success, not dissimilar to other well-known “Jumbo” watches of the day. The 38mm case was large for the 1970s and the 14mm thickness made the stature of the watch even more imposing. Not only did the automatic movement require more space, but the anti-magnetic inner cage also added extra thickness. Less than 600 of the original automatic ref. 1832’s were produced. 

IWC Ingenieur Automatic 40 Aqua

The late 70’s was a tumultuous time for the Swiss watch industry with the introduction of cheap quartz movements of which IWC was an early adopter. At the time, it wasn’t unheard of for Ingenieur owners to request that their automatic watch be swapped to a quartz movement. Seemingly sacrilegious to modern collectors, the new quartz movement allowed for a slimmer case, which made all the difference for buyers in the 1970’s and 80’s. 

IWC refreshed the Ingenieur line in 2005 with an all-new 42.5mm case and an automatic in-house Calibre 80110 movement. By 2017, IWC had started to move the design of the model back to the the original ref. 666, with a conventionally round, lugged case that utilized conventional straps instead of the integrated bracelet. While the design was handsome and stayed relatively true to the model line’s heritage, these new pieces lacked the anti-magnetic capabilities and distinctive Genta flair. 

In 2023, IWC finally brought back the much-loved Ingenieur SL design, now modernized in the best ways possible.

IWC Ingenieur Automatic 40 Aqua

Design Details

Slightly wider than the original SL, the Ingenieur ref. IW328903 now features a 40mm stainless steel case and a steel bezel with five exposed screw heads just like the ref. 1832. Fortunately, IWC corrected one of the biggest sticking points enthusiasts had with the original Ingenieur SL. Unlike the AP Royal Oak, the position of the screws on the bezel of the SL was not uniform meaning that no two Ingenieurs were exactly the same. For a watch that was supposedly in the luxury segment, this just did not sit right with collectors. On the new Ingenieur, the screw position has been standardized with a central screw at 12 o’clock and two more off to each side. The bezel is brushed and polished and the H-link bracelet is reminiscent of the one on the Nautilus, just with a little more heft. Another issue collectors had with the Ingenieur SL was its thickness. The new ref. IW328903 is quite svelte, at just 10mm thick, and even features an anti-magnetic iron cage behind its solid case-back.

IWC Ingenieur Automatic 40 Aqua

The cross-textured, checkerboard dial pays tribute to Genta’s original reference 1832. and the bright blue-green aqua dial seen here really allows the pattern to stand out. The lumed baton indices and stick hands are reminiscent of other Genta designs and strike a balance between sporty and more formal designs. Interestingly, in addition to being color-matched with the dial, the calendar wheel displays the date using double digits, meaning the first nine days of the month read as 01, 02, 03, etc. While collectors and enthusiasts never miss these seemingly small details, such consideration of the usability and legibility of the watch demonstrate the level of care IWC poured into the redesign of such an iconic model for the brand. 

IWC Ingenieur Automatic 40 Aqua

Inner Workings

Inside the Ingenieur ref. IW328903 beats the Calibre 32111. The movement offers a 120-hour power reserve, a 28,800 bph frequency, 21 jewels, and 164 total components. It is one of the first IWC calibers to use silicon components and utilizes a bi-directional pawl-winding system. Developed and manufactured in partnership with ValFleurier, the 32111 is utilized in a number of other modern IWC models. 

IWC Ingenieur Automatic 40 Aqua


The personality of the ref. IW328903 Ingenieur is very similar to that of other iconic integrated bracelet designs; sporty and contemporary while also being versatile and well-suited to a wide range of situations. That being said, those drawn towards the Ingenieur are likely interested in a slightly contrarian choice and appreciate the model’s more utilitarian origins. The Ingenieur also doesn’t require a lengthy purchase history or necessitate the strenuous buying process that is often associated with some of the other more well-known watches on the market today. 

IWC Ingenieur Automatic 40 Aqua

Versus The Competition

Collectors considering the IWC Ingenieur Automatic 40 are definitely interested in Gerald Genta designs (or Genta-influenced designs), but the man had a prolific career and there are plenty of options outside of the usual suspects. 

The Chopard Alpine Eagle is a very appealing piece from the famed jewelry brand. Its sunray blue dial offers a unique take on the textured dial and its case and bracelet are made of Chopard’s Lucent Steel and are both brilliantly finished. The 9.7mm thick case has a sapphire display case back to show off the in-house Chopard automatic movement. With its dressy, more formal take on the integrated bracelet design, the Alpine Eagle is the perfect contrast to the original utilitarian intentions of the Ingenieur. 

If great design is what you are after, the Bulgari Octo Finissimo in stainless steel is a fantastic option. Featuring an ultra-thin case with multiple different finishes and a well decorated micro-rotor movement, the Octo Finissimo is an incredibly impressive watch even when compared to the established icons. The original titanium versions only had 30 meters of water resistance, but the updated stainless steel models add an extra millimeter of thickness in exchange for 100 meters of water resistance. Still just 6.7mm thick, the Octo Finissimo is a great option for those looking for a very thin timepiece with a great deal of personality. 

Finally, the Girard Perregaux Laureato has a similar design to the Ingenieur, with its integrated H-link bracelet and large polished center links. However, this Laureato Chronograph adds a complication into the mix for less than the current Ingenieur price on the secondary market. Like the Ingenieur, the Laureato is a storied model for Girard Perregaux and serves as a contemporary representation of the high-quality pieces GP produces. Slightly larger at 42mm in diameter and 11.3mm thick, the added size is warranted for the addition of the chronograph. If a complication and an integrated bracelet design are on your short list, the Girard Perregaux Laureato Chronograph should definitely be considered. 

Girard-Perregaux Laureato Chronograph 42mm SS

Final Thoughts

Fortunately for IWC, the Ingenieur has been a popular model since its inception 70 years ago now. It offers entry into the illustrious club of Genta designs and at a fraction of the price of some of the other options. With its engineering focus, anti-magnetic capabilities, and handsome design, the IWC Ingenieur ref. IW328903 should have no trouble maintaining its place as the thinking man’s Genta for the next 70 years to come!

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