Imagine a summer day and you're driving a Mercedes SLS AMG Roadster and wearing the ultra cool IWC Ingenieur Automatic AMG Black Series Ceramic. Wouldn't that be something, eh? This timepiece was introduced in 2013 in honour of the sponsorship of IWC of the racing team, Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula 1.
When we tested the car and the watch at none other than the AMG HQ in Affalterbach, Germany, we spent the entire morning taking photos of the watch and scrutinized its details.
The dial which is metallic brown contrasts nicely with the ceramic case in matte black. The ceramic bezel is a shiny black, looking very modern with 5 screws that have special heads on the watch's front. The warm shade of the dial along with the beige-orange material on the hands and indices, coupled with the leather inlay strap add a very cosy touch to this very sophisticated looking timepiece.
The interior of the Mercedes SLS, on the other hand, was designed in the same way – the gear selector lever and the air vents are milled from aluminium and are inspired by throttle controls and engines of a jet. And yet all the rest boasts of plush upholstery. The indices of the watch are shaped like mini race cars, each with high tail-end spoilers in the exterior ends.
We tested the Mercedes SLS as well. The top disappears behind the seats and when you press the start button the 8-cylinder fanfare roars from the tailpipes. Amazing. We almost forgot all about the ticking of the IWC watch. It was easy to take the SLS AMG out for a spin – all we did was shift the selector lever to D and the drive was smooth all throughout.
And here's the best part – the IWC Ingenieur was just as user-friendly. You can unscrew, grasp and pull out the crown easily even with the crown protectors. The exact setting for the date is simplified with the stop seconds hand and its rapid reset function.
While driving the convertible, we reached the autobahn and so there was no longer a speed limit to worry about. We hit the pedal to the metal and you could hear a sound similar to a jet about to take off. Our photographer was understandably very anxious and we went from 0-60 in just 3.7 seconds. It wasn't long before the speedometer reached 100 mph. Too bad there was a lot of traffic in the autobahn that we couldn't read the maximum speed of 200 mph.
But wait, we're here to test the watch not the car, right? Well OK moving on. Watches aren't actually rated by how fast they can go but rather, how precise they can be. So we used a timing machine to test the IWC Ingenieur and we found that it is indeed very precise. Its average daily gain is 1.8 seconds, very close to what can be considered as optimal performance. The highest deviation is 6 seconds for all positions which is more than acceptable. The balance amplitude is quite stable between hanging and flat positions.
The dial is easy to read. The two numerals and indices ascertain sufficient orientation and the 2-digit minutes numerals over the hour indices are very helpful. It's easy to tell the time and quickly at that; even if you are trying to check the time while driving inside a tunnel, the luminosity is quite helpful. However it does tend to weaken if you're in the dark for longer periods.
The diameter of the watch is 46mm so it's large however despite its size, the strap clings closely to the wrist. There's no trace of discomfort and the inner surface which is rubber feels soft and supple.
After a while, we did find an issue with the strap and clasp. The seam wicks perspiration and causes the strap's leather inlay to darken. It's nothing major of course but it's something worth noting.
The buckle is made of matte titanium and it's pronged. A great match for this particular watch and it's easy to use. It also doesn't feel very thick due to the strap's beveled slits.
The hardness level of the ceramic case measures 1350 on the Vickers scale and it's 6x more scratch resistant than steel. However, it will break when exposed to a tenth of the force that would permanently deform steel. The cases of this IWC Ingenieur are from Formatec Technical Ceramics (Netherlands).
The movement, the Caliber 80110 is created in-house and it was unveiled in 2005 during the relaunch of the Ingenieur collection. It integrates the Triovis fine adjustment and Pellaton pawl winding system. You'll hardly find any embellishment on the movement; the edges aren't beveled and the surfaces aren't polished either.
IWC Ingenieur Automatic AMG Black Series Ceramic Test
This new model, unlike older models in the Ingenieur collection, does not integrate a soft iron Faraday cage as a means to protect the movement from EMFs. In doing so, the design engineers were able to make the watch thinner and make use of a transparent caseback.
The styling of the watch alludes to Gerald Genta's Ingenieur SL in the 1970s. This was a luxury sports watch which had 5 holes on the bezel and a metal bracelet. During the relaunch in 2005, the watch had a more angular shape and the dial's numerals looked modern. Ever since 2009, these watches have been equipped with crown protectors. The bezel screws which replaced the 5 holes are new and they have a specific function – they affix the bezel and the back to the case's middle piece. The shape of their heads are proof of the fine craftsmanship of this timepiece.
As experts know fully well, exclusiveness is crucial for both high end cars and high end watches and this is why the IWC Ingenieur Automatic AMG Black Series Ceramic has a price tag of $12,300, an amount equal to the SLS's cost of the optional ceramic brakes. If you look at it this way, the watch does seem like a bargain but hey, at 12 grand it's anything but!
It's a great watch though and if you can afford the Mercedes SLS, we strongly suggest you forego the ceramic brakes and just buy the IWC Ingenieur Automatic AMG instead.
IWC Ingenieur Automatic AMG Black Series Ceramic
- 1. Strap and Clasp (max 10 points) – 8
The rubber strap features a nice leather inlay and a durable buckle. However, sweat will show in the inlay along the edges.
- 2. Operation (max 5 points) – 5
The ceramic crown is easy to unscrew, turn and pull out. The stop seconds and rapid reset mechanism of the watch are also excellent.
- 3. Case (max 10 points) – 9
The detail is evident in the screw heads which are uniquely shaped and the interchangeable matte and polished surfaces. The case is also scratch resistant.
- 4. Design (max 15 points) – 15
The watch is technical and cool at the same time.
- 5. Legibility (max 5 points) – 5
The watch dial shows bold numerals, indices and hands to make sure that you can read the time fast. The luminous material also enables you to see the time in the dark.
- 6. Wearing comfort (max 10 points) – 9
Even though it's large, it's very comfortable to wear and looks thinner than it really is.
- 7. Movement (max 20 points) – 16
The manufacture caliber comes with pawl winding and shock absorption to ensure that its rotor is protected however the embellishments and the fine adjustments for the index are on ETA's level.
- 8. Rate results (max 10 points) – 8
The results were great although there was a slight daily gain and no high deviations on various positions.
- 9. Overall value (max 15 points) – 10
The price is too high despite its excellent craftsmanship and quality.
TOTAL: 84 POINTS