Service + Repair: IWC Ingenieur 5005 calibre 51112

IMG_4614This is my last post before the Christmas period, and I will be back in the new year. So a merry Christmas to all my readers, and a happy new year – or just a great season if you don’t celebrate these events. And I’m guessing a good half of my readers have other religions – I love from how many different backgrounds my readers are!

You need a very sizeable wrist to wear one of these… it’s 50mm across with the crown, and probably the biggest watch I’ve had in the workshop so far. Or is this already a clock? πŸ™‚

Raja sent it in, and it’s as dead as a dodo.IMG_4615

Just in case you thought I was fibbing πŸ˜‰IMG_4617

I open the case back, and I already know that something is wrong. Look at all the little black specs – they are bits of ground off metal. And that metal will have come from somewhere…IMG_4618

A first look at the auto winder. The rotor has an excentre on the underside, which moves an arm back and forth (2 jewels keep that arm in contact with the rotor excentre). Two “clawed” arms then move a ratchet wheel (the brass coloured wheel), which in turn winds the mainspring. Unusual, but we’ve seen this before… albeit in a slightly cheaper watch πŸ˜‰IMG_4621

The excentre on the rotor driving the auto winder.IMG_4624

I remove the auto winder bridge, and now I can see what’s wrong. The second jewel on the auto winder arm has fallen out, and the axle holding it has been ground down.514-01

In the microscope shot, you can see that there’s nothing left of the pin that holds the holed jewel onto the arm. Completely ground down.514-02

For comparison, the other side with the jewel still in place.

This is where I can get pretty miffed. There is IWC in Schaffhausen, building very nice movements that also look great, but they put a not-so-proven auto winder construction in, that is just pure pants. I bet this damage happens a lot, as this is definitely a construction error. How about not getting fancy, and building an auto winder that lasts for 50 years? Just my two cents …IMG_4630

The ground bits of metal got everywhere, and that’s why the watch stopped working.

Just for amusement, I phone Schaffhausen and ask for spare parts. You can guess what the outcome of that call was πŸ˜‰IMG_4632

The winding gear, and on the right the gear driving the power reserve indication.IMG_4634

As the rotor weighs the equivalent of a brick, the rotor post suspension is slightly flexible, to prevent it breaking off. A great construction, and I’m sure Iveco uses that in their lorries as well πŸ˜‰IMG_4637

That’s a mainspring and a half! 2.18 x 0.14 x 850! So almost a metre long!IMG_4639

Here, you can see the hacking second construction.IMG_4642

The gear train. As the watch has a 7 day power reserve, there is an extra wheel in the gear train, so there is a 5th wheel driving the escape wheel, which I have already removed.IMG_4647

The bottom plate with the date ring. Nice construction of the spring pushing the pawl.IMG_4650

More wheels than you would expect πŸ˜‰ The top wheels are for the date quick set, and the set below of the power reserve indication, and of course the calendar wheel at the bottom.IMG_4659

Under yet another bridge, the keyless works.IMG_4667

Probably more parts than the average chronograph. All for a standard movement with a day ring and a power reserve indicator. At least you can’t complain about the amount of movement you get for your money.Β IMG_4668

As nobody sells mainsprings that are almost a metre long, I have to re-use the old one. I put braking grease on the barrel wall, re-grease the cleaned mainspring, and put the barrel back together.IMG_4677

The escape jewels have fixed caps that can’t be removed, so you need a special oiler to lubricate them.IMG_4679

You can see the fourth wheel driving the second hand pinion, and the fifth wheel at the top that drives the escape wheel.IMG_4681

Very nicely decorated barrel lid.IMG_4685

The basic movement is back together, and beating nicely.IMG_4687

I adjust the beat error, and get a clean, straight line. I won’t correct the beat rate yet, as that’s done on the balance itself, but will do that after the watch has run for a week. I have to test the power reserve anyway, and will do the final adjustment once the testing is done. Note the beat rate of 21,600 bph. Nothing to write home about – and there is a reason for that. A decent beat rate was sacrificed in the name of a 7 day power reserve…IMG_4690

Now it’s time for the bottom plate.IMG_4694

I turn a little punch to drive out the remaining riveted axle of the ground away jewel axle.IMG_4697

I turn a new axle on the lathe, and rivet it in.IMG_4698

Now I can put the auto winder back in.IMG_4699

Now the auto winder bridge and rotor go back on.IMG_4701

I case the movement, and put a new gasket in. 44mm outer diameter, and 1mm thick πŸ˜‰IMG_4703

Now for 7 days testing of the power reserve, and then auto winder testing … It’s not going to be this year that the watch goes back to its owner.

So what do I make of it? Let’s start with the positive:

  • execution of the movement is flawless
  • great detail
  • 7 days power reserve is nothing to sneer at
  • probably looks good on you if you are built like a JCB

The not so positive:

  • in order to achieve 7 days power reserve, too many compromises were made
  • nobody needs 7 days power reserve – it’s an automatic watch!
  • the auto winder construction is pants, and a watch in this price range should work for 50 years without having to replace any parts bar the mainspring
  • through the sheer size of the movement, the powers at work when that rotor swings around are just too big to handle. A smaller movement would have done the trick a lot better
  • even though 44 jewels were used, the watch still wears out after less than a decade
  • if you put “Probus Scafusia” (craftsmanship from Schaffhausen) on your rotor, make sure it works for a while πŸ˜‰

41 thoughts on “Service + Repair: IWC Ingenieur 5005 calibre 51112

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  3. Hello and Happy New Year
    Do you have an empty case for the big ingenieur?

    If yes, what would the cost be? Thanks.

  4. A couple of years ago, I visited IWC in order to have my old 1976 IWC cal. 8541B overhauled. During this visit I met one of their older watchmakers ( he enjoys his retirement now) and he told me behind is hand, that actually he would have preferred the old cal. 8541B, same construction, same size, but using better materials available today. This was rejected by the CEO, because he wanted a big movement for a big case and a weekΒ΄s power reserve (?)
    The result is this, basically good movement, but with many vulnerable parts.
    By the way: when I picked up my watch a few weeks later and the friendly sales assistant at their shop next to the factory was about to wind and set the watch for me, she suddenly pulled out the entire stem and was holding it in her hand.
    We both were pretty suprised. For IWC it was a embarrassing situation!
    This clearly shows that even at IWC mistakes can happen, even though they do not like to hear that.

  5. Hello.
    Great review.
    I have my Eye on one of these Big Ing,
    Would you recommend anyone to buy a IWC with 51112/13 movement.?


  6. Hello,

    I’ve bought one today and have a quistion about serial numbers.
    Are the case back and movement number matching or different?

    Thanks for your reply.

    Kind regards,

      • Hello Christian,

        Thank you for your reply.

        After a visit to a IWC dealer I’ve found out that you’re correct. Case and movement number ain’t matching but the are registered together @IWC. So if they are matching it’s a fake.

        Again Thnx for your reply.

        Kind regards,


  7. Christian,
    Just found your Site/Blog and this article on the IWC Big Ingenieur.
    I have the same watch – however don’t have any issues with it yet ! except for
    the leather strap which is not very well made – So at least I’ll know were to send it
    if / when it breaks. Can you give me an idea of how much you charged for the one you repaired.

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  9. Question: what is the difference between an IWC 51111 and 51112? Do they have the same measurements or dimensions? Can I put a 51112 into a BigPilot case which normally contains the 51111?

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  12. Part must be available for 7 years after the last one of a product has been made . They get away with this not because they are in Switzerland as the law applies to the country they were sold in, but because no one actually sues them to make them do it .
    This is right up my street , I might just do it … For Fun

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  14. Well… I am completely stunned by this article !
    How can any industry make such intolerable errors, on such time-tested and simple technologies ?!?
    Do we really speak about IWC, which is supposed to have created / developed / improved the fantastic Pellaton winding system, patented in… June 1946 ?
    I just refuse to think about the price asked for this IngΓ©nieur.
    One has to keep in mind that 60 years old 85x series movements still work like charms…

  15. I am a bit surprised as well that IWC does not sell spare parts , it is an important consideration when making a purchase. I hope the 1993 skinny ingenieur that I recently sourced (jlc889 34 jwls) is better serviceable by an independent watchmaker : have you ever opened one ?

    • Hi Gianluca,
      Your skinny ingenieur won’t suffer from the same problem, as the oscillating weight is much smaller. Yours will be easier to service as I will be able to source a new mainspring. Gaskets tend to be ISO standard sizes, so that wasn’t even a problem for the big ingenieur.
      I haven’t opened a smaller ingenieur yet…

  16. I had this watch on my radar but after this article I have lost interest… Are all the IWC models over-engineered or is just this one due to seven day power reserve?

  17. Very interesting observation about the unnecessary complicated construction of the auto winder system. My dad bought his Seiko automatic in 1970, and I know it has never seen a watch maker since. Still works and keeps time. Maybe not smart to never service it, but the “magic lever” system of Seiko proves to be super efficient and robust.

    • What is funny is that this is in principle the same construction as on your father’s Seiko! An excentre moves two tines up and down, that drive a ratchet wheel. Only that the super-cheap construction that Seiko chose is also a very reliable one.
      I think the main problem with this IWC is size. The rotor is so heavy that it had to be suspended on a spring, and that allows it to move with quite a lot of force, destroying the jewel axle in no time. If the rotor were half as heavy and suspended on a fixed axle, the watch wouldn’t wind as fast, but it would probably last forever.

  18. I guess owning this type of quality watch is something only few can do but I wonder how many would choose this having an interest in timepieces in general?

    I like the look of the industrial case and that rotor looks very flashy.

    Has it been made with a certain type of person in mind rather than to last the length of time something like this ought to?

    Great to see this kind of watch and to note what a pro who services has to say.

    I guess in another 10 years the owner could use that rotor as a lovely pendant!

    Christian what would be the chance of this problem of wear occurring again after the fix?

  19. Excellent article and story, as usual. So, what was IWC’s answer after all ? πŸ™‚

    Merry Christmas, a much better 2014 with all the best wishes and many thanks for your awesome blog!

      • A position which annoys me greatly; if you are going to produce a product – and certainly a premium one called “Ingenieur” – you should be prepared to stand by it by supplying parts… if not actually rectify the issue yourself.

        I don’t understand how such a position is even legal in the EU – they didn’t let car manufacturers get away with it !

        It does look great though πŸ™‚

        • Switzerland is not an EU member… The practice is to ensure they get to control the after market sales and service. They typically charge 4-5 times more than an independent watchmaker would for their work.
          Omega, Rolex, Breitling and many others do the same.

          • I had actually forgotten Switzerland wasn’t in the EU! The rest of my rant stands though – especially after cooling to find out what the Latin on the rotor means πŸ˜‰

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