In Conversation With: Christoph Grainger-Herr, CEO of IWC Schaffhausen On The Evolution Of The Ingenieur

THM Desk
19 May 2023 |
clock icon5 min read
like image
comment icon image
like image
SUMMARIZEarrow down


Back in the day, IWC Schaffhausen wanted to release a sportier stainless steel timepiece, more affordable than gold. Did the brand do so with the release of the Ingenieur Automatic at Watches And Wonders 2023? In 1955, IWC released the Ingenieur, featuring the company's first in-house automatic movement, Pellaton winding, and a soft-iron inner case for magnetic field protection. Despite its technical significance, Gérald Genta, widely regarded as the most influential watch designer in history, is almost always mentioned alongside it. Genta designed the Ingenieur SL for IWC in the 1970s, and the watch's striking aesthetic codes and distinct visual identity have distinguished it ever since.

Ingenieur SL Automatic, 1976 Ingenieur Automatic 40, 2023
Ingenieur SL Automatic, 1976 (L) Ingenieur Automatic 40, 2023 (R)

We caught up with Christoph Grainger-Herr, CEO of IWC Schaffhausen for a quick chat to discuss the novelties unveiled at Watches And Wonders this year!

THM: With a booth transporting us to the 70s, and watches taking us back from the future, how has the journey been for the Ingenieur?

Christoph: Back From The Future accurately describes what’s happening at the brand. It represented a moment in time when the watch design changed radically. From ornate, and meticulously decorated timepieces that were gold plated with complications, to the Quartz crisis and gold prices going up, Gerald Genta came in and changed the face of sportier steel watches with the then-released Ingenieur. The new version of the timepiece is modern with exposed screws, clear construction, stainless steel, new materials, new technologies, and a vision of the future. The process of relaunching an icon is daunting but the first step we took was to identify what elements of the Ingeniuer’s DNA we would like to preserve in the novelties.

IWC at Watches and Wonders 2023

THM: The new Ingenieur Automatic has been downsized as compared to the original Genta design. Is this new timepiece more comfortable to wear?

Christoph: Yes, the original Genta-designed Ingenieur was very wide and with the new one in 40mm, it is extremely comfortable and sporty to wear. The challenge was to preserve the chunky bracelet of the original timepiece but trimming down was ideal. It’s where all the work went in.

THM: IWC Schaffhausen has been making anti-magnetic movements since 1888. How important is it in a timepiece?

Christoph: When anti-magnetic timepieces were first created, it was at the advent of electronic technology. Today, magnetism comes from different sources. At the end of the day, the metallic components in a watch movement keep the precision, if they get magnetized, then the movement will not be accurate and may even slow down. If you look at one of the reasons why watches go into service is due to magnetism. To protect the movement and more, the new Ingenieur Automatic has a soft-iron inner case for magnetic field protection.

THM: We also noticed the interesting Top Gun Pilot Chronographs in a denim strap. What was the idea behind this?

Christoph: The new color that we are adding to the Top Gun line is called Oceana. It’s inspired by the naval coast on the Atlantic Coast. The denim strap gives a nice texture to the timepiece. When you look at monochromatic ceramic watches, the interesting fact to notice is the textures and contrasts which are all in the same color. It adds richness to the timepiece.

IWC Pilot Chronograph 41

THM: The Pilot has always been a funky timepiece. Is the denim strap a way to look at a newer audience?

Christoph: Yes absolutely. We are building on the very face of the chronograph which IWC is known by. You recognize it from every direction. Ultimately, it’s all about playing with colors, materials, and sizes that add the style quotient.

The timepieces we saw at Watches And Wonders was the first collection of the Ingenieurs which are boutique-exclusive. However, with their wide retail network, they’ll come to the markets very soon!

Also, read :

New Genta-Inspired Ingenieur Automatic 40s & A New Metal

First Ceramic Pilot Chronographs And A New Oceana Color