‘Graph Paper’ Dial 3506 IWC Ingenieur SL

It’s no secret that we’re big fans of the ‘Skinny’ Ingy here. It is the mark of all excellent watches that they have so few faults, the only thing left that anyone can criticize is the price. Well, you can’t even hold that against the 3506, not really. It’s the generation, the iteration of this case design, most attainable by far. The 3521 was the professional offering, with COSC certification and JLC 889 ébauche. The 3508 was the true tool watch, boasting an almost absurd 500K A/m anti-magnetism. It’s not Quartz, it’s the bare-bones mechanical. It also wasn’t first, that prize goes to the more collected 3505. The 3506, though, is the core of the range; it’s a base 911, no wing, no turbo, 6-speed. Here’s the secret, though: rental-car spec is actually the best 911. And, though it’s way more debated, this just might be the Ingenieur to buy and wear.

Why not? The only answer you’ll ever hear is 34mm. But it’s an integrated 34 with a generous lug to lug. I only hear that from people who haven’t worn one. This case at 8.5mm thin wears like a 35.5 precisely in my book. You could also make the argument it’s the least interesting. But then you simply must take that back when it comes to this dial, which the 3521 and 3508 missed. This is the ‘Graph Paper’ dial, aptly named for its draft-like texture which you almost want to just sketch on. It is the only Ingenieur with a dial that would look at home for an engine-ieu-er. By the way, the easiest way to tell a 3505 and this 3506 apart is the Swiss signature, the former is Swiss only, latter Swiss made.

Production of the 3506 has been estimated around 800 examples. The more alternative, neo-vintage set of Ingenieurs that came after the Jumbo 1832 case are increasingly seen as a huge value, quite correctly. Across five generations, the Ingenieur sprinted harder and further than any antimagnetic watch ever had in the cold war years. The Swiss-Germans at Schaffhausen were obsessed with technical merit and perfect proportions, both of which are crucial to making any integrated watch purposeful. That’s probably why you don’t find many people selling them.

This example is in good overall condition. It’s seen a polish but there’s no loss of proportion. It’s definitely been worn in, the case brushing tells of many sleeves and the bezel has a few love taps. But it’s sort of cooler for it. The dial is excellent, well-preserved including tritium. One not to baby, but love more every day. It’s been recently serviced and comes as watch only from a well-regarded German retailer.