The Formula One industry is intrinsically competitive. Numerous hours are spent shaving a tenth of a second from simulated laptimes. Wind tunnels operate through the night, as engineers manipulate the profile of front wings seeking the optimum compromise between drag and downforce.
Aerodynamics have become critical to the success of those teams who compete at the front of the starting grid. A modern day Formula One car has as much in common with an aeroplane as a family saloon car. Rather than the air lifting the wing of a plane, the Formula One aerodynamicist will endeavour to push the car downwards, against the tarmac, always ensuring that this does not unduly effect straight line speed.
Bodywork is fashioned into ever more elaborate shapes, trying to starve the wind of its diet of resistance.
Alas, for the intellectual minds employed within the Formula One paddock, considerations such as strength and weight also play important roles.
A modern day Formula One car including driver, but excluding fuel, must always weigh at least 642Kg. Carrying excessive weight will unduly slow the car. To be competitive all teams will endeavour to cross the finish line as near to the minimum weight as possible. Cars will be seen at the end of a race driving over the discarded pieces of rubber off the racing line, referred to as marbles. They hope to increase the mass of the car prior to post- race scrutineering.
Mass is vitally important to teams seeking to mitigate weight wherever possible. This allows them to subsequently add ballast to optimum areas of the car, where the desired balance and centre of gravity dictate.
The material which has grown in popularity in motorsport in recent years is carbon fibre. It has three times the strength of steel and yet is four times lighter. As the FIA endeavours to make Formula One safer, the strength of the monocoque has to meet increasingly stringent requirements. Carbon fibre has become the must-have material in the construction of Formula One cars.
Carbon fibre is used in sheet form, pre-impregnated with resin and layered in molds. The orientation of the weave is important as force lines through the material have to be considered. Potentially several layers of the material are used in the construction of a monocoque.
The next stage is for the layered carbon fibre sheets to be cured. This necessitates baking the material and subjecting it to pressure. The number of heat / pressure cycles will be determined by the intended use of the component. In some cases the carbon fibre will be used in conjunction with aluminium honeycomb section.
After this time-consuming manufacturing process, all parts have to be subjected to an intensive quality control procedure. Only after they have satisfied all criteria can they be released for use.
The reason for my pre-amble is to convey the rationale for the use of carbon fibre. Moreover, the process of creating components using the material requires great expertise and incurs much expense, a factor which should be noted.
The Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One team are no strangers to success on grand prix circuits and certainly know much about the use of this space-age material. It is therefore no surprise to see them share their mastery of carbon fibre with their engineering partner, IWC Schaffhausen.
Carbon fibre is tastefully employed on this latest offering from IWC, the Ingenieur Automatic Carbon Performance. Available in two limited edition forms, 100 featuring yellow details and 100 with details presented in red. I must admit the former version with yellow detailing appeals to me the most, however, both models are very handsome.
Carbon fibre weave provides the main focal point to the dial. It is formed from epoxy-resin soaked carbon fibre matting employing high temperatures and pressure in the similar way to the construction of Nico Rosberg’s race car.
Black hour and minute hands are partly openworked, revealing the carbon fibre beneath, and tipped in white.
An ultra-slim central seconds hand is black, save for the tip which is yellow on my preferred variant. It features a hacking seconds facility, ideal for synchronising time with other members of the race team.
Historically, the Ingenieur models of the 1950s onwards have always employed batons to indicate hours on the dial. However, whilst the brand has continued this trend for most hourly markings, it has used Arabic numerals at 6 o’clock and noon. I particularly like the modernity of the font chosen and feel it perfectly suits the contemporary persona of the timepiece.
At 3 o’clock a date aperture is located.
The internal flange adjacent the dial is marked with yellow Arabic numerals indicating each five minute integer. All aspects harmoniously blend and confer peerless legibility.
A diameter of 46mm provides sufficient scale for the aforementioned ease of read-off. Moreover, it suits the masculine character of a watch engineered for alpha males.
The case is formed of carbon fibre. The crown, crown protectors and screw heads on the bezel are ceramic. This material, which is no stranger to Formula One, has been successfully used on previous IWC models.
The bezel is made of carbon fibre.
The screws which pass through the case from front to back are made of titanium, the third material to be used judiciously on this model.
The reverse of the watch is exquisitely executed. A sapphire caseback reveals the Calibre 80110. Framing the sapphire crystal is a titanium case-back ring, relief engraved with the model details and the words “ONE OUT OF 100”.
The rubber strap features a textile inlay and comes with a titanium pin buckle. The strap features yellow nylon stitching on my preferred model and enhances the appearance of the whole.
In 1955, IWC unveiled its first Ingenieur. It was an automatic watch and featured “special anti-magnetic protection”.
This latest model, in common with all Ingenieur watches is self-winding. The calibre 80110 has a frequency of 28,800 vph (4Hz) and includes 28 jewels.
The Ingenieur Automatic Carbon Performance dispenses with the anti-magnetic “cage” and indulges the wearer with a view of the movement instead. Whilst I am sure some purists will mourn the absence of the anti-magnetic protection, I am heartened by the view of the engine powering this latest IWC timepiece.
Close examination of the movement reveals sublime engineering. Perlage is visible on the mainplate and circular Côtes de Genève motif is visible on some of the bridge work. However, the pièce de résistance has to be the rotor designed to resemble three pistons in union, a perfect metaphor for high performance.
Returning to the 1955 Ingenieur, the “sealing against water and moisture” has been retained. Indeed, this watch has a water resistance of 12 bar (120 metres). Moreover, should would-be racers choose to expose their watches to the rigour of competitive motorsport, they will be pleased to learn this watch is fitted with an integrated shock- absorption system.
IWC have embraced Formula One know-how and harnessed it into a handsome, championship winning package.
I handled the IWC Ingenieur Automatic Carbon Performance at SIHH 2013 and adored the appearance of the twill-weave featured on the dial. Carbon fibre is time consuming to produce and necessitates repeated baking.
In this instance, the bakers dozen, or rather bakers century, is cooked to perfection. Racers should act quickly, as the limited edition of 100 pieces will no doubt sell like hot cakes.
• Model: IWC Ingenieur Automatic Carbon Performance
• Reference: IW322401 (yellow); IW 322402 (red)
• Case: Carbon; diameter 46.00 mm; height 14.50 mm ; water resistant to 12 bar (120 metres); sapphire crystal to front and caseback.
• Functions: Hours; minutes; central seconds; date.
• Movement: Calibre 80110, self-winding; frequency 28,800vph (4Hz); 28 jewels; power reserve 44 hours.
• Strap: Black rubber strap with textile inlay on titanium pin buckle
Visit the IWC website
This article was written by Angus Davies (escapement.uk.com), exclusively for Watchuseek (c)