Gentlemen, start your chronographs…

In what is known as a traditional “Le Mans start,” race car drivers line up at the edge of the track and must run to their cars, jump in, start the engine and roar off. In this way, the fleetest of foot and most coordinated drivers gained advantage right from the gun. So too is the scene on the first day at the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH), as retailers, collectors and journalists queue up at the entrance to the exhibit hall of Geneva’s Palexpo and race to their favorite brands to see what new collections are revealed for the year.

This year especially, this metaphor is fitting for IWC Schaffhausen, since it is the year of the Ingenieur. For 2013, the Ingenieur lineup is all about motorsport—the performance engineering, the racing and the heritage. 

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IWC recently announced a partnership with the MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS Formula One Team and the new Ingenieur collection introduced here today more than just pays lip service with a logo on the dial. Case in point, the new Ingenieur Chronograph Racer (ref. 3785) reflects a strong link with the track with its bold, legible dial, ergonomic pushers that operate the in-house calibre 89365, and a tachymetric scale around the dial that can be used to calculate speeds over a fixed distance.

IWC has always been a leader in the use of innovative materials for its cases and this year, the Ingenieur AMG Automatic Black Series Ceramic (ref. 3225) has been engineered with ceramic (er, zirconium oxide) in a high-tech nod to IWC’s long-time partnership with AMG, the performance division of Mercedes.

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In a acknowledgement to history IWC introduced an Ingenieur Automatic (ref. 3239), a 40 millimeter steel model that calls to mind the legendary Gérald Genta-designed Ingenieur SL from the mid-1970s. And the Ingenieur Chronograph Silberpfeil (ref. 3785) pays homage to the iconic Silver Arrows that dominated the track in the 1950s.

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Reception of the new lineup of Ingenieurs has been overwhelmingly positive here on this first day at SIHH. And this is to say nothing of the IWC booth in the Palexpo, which had a tough act to follow after last year’s aircraft carrier theme. Suffice it to say, IWC has won pole position with this one. More on that tomorrow from Geneva.

- HODINKEE for IWC Schaffhausen