Watch Shootout: IWC Ingenieur 40mm 3239 vs. Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra 8500

Watch Shootout: IWC Ingenieur 40mm 3239 vs. Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra 8500

Watch Shootout: IWC Ingenieur 40mm 3239 vs. Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra 8500   watch shootout

Contributed for aBlogtoWatch by Dénes Albert

Since I became addicted to watches around the turn of the millennium I spent a lot of time perusing watch forums and sites dedicated to watch reviews. I picked up a lot of useful, if not expert-grade or properly structured information along the way. One thing I found myself increasingly interested in were in-depth comparisons of watch A vs. watch B. This is not to say that standalone watch reviews don’t have their merits or place. They certainly provide a lot of useful information and quite good live pictures of new models, providing potential buyers with generally unbiased opinions. The reason I find comparisons more interesting is that if you are curious about a watch, chances are you already might own a similarly priced/specified model from another manufacturer, thus delivering the information on the other watch in a more meaningful context. So I decided to use my admittedly modest knowledge to give you one such comparison, should you care to read it.

Watch Shootout: IWC Ingenieur 40mm 3239 vs. Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra 8500   watch shootout

THE CONTESTANTS

Watch Shootout: IWC Ingenieur 40mm 3239 vs. Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra 8500 So, why the Aqua Terra? Well, first of all, these watches come from manufacturers with roughly the same pedigree and both are part of a larger group: Richemont for IWC and Swatch for Omega. Second, these watches were both created and are indeed perceived as go-anywhere, do-anything watches, also often referred to as beach-to-boardroom. Third, their MSRPs are in the same ballpark, with the IWC maybe 15% more expensive. Fourth, they are also quite similar in size. The IWC has a 1.5mm smaller measured diameter, but it also has crown guards, which make the wrist presence almost identical. That is except for the thickness, but more on that later. The particular AT in this comparison is the Captain’s Watch. Ideally, it should have been the standard white dial version, but I currently don’t own one of those. I will not, as others do, give grades to the different aspects of these watches as cumulated scores may have some indicative value, but everyone’s weighting of these aspects is different, so even if someone were to agree with my assessments, their final score may be quite different. I will, however, pronounce a winner under each heading, however presumptuous that may sound – for both your benefit and my delight.

MEASURABLE DATA*

Watch Shootout: IWC Ingenieur 40mm 3239 vs. Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra 8500   watch shootout

Notes:
* – manufacturer data, own measurements

PACKAGING
Honestly, I only included this heading because all comprehensive watch reviews start with the packaging and I didn’t want to short-change you, Dear Reader. I have little to say other than both packages are up to their respective companies’ standards for their cheap(er), non-limited editions. They both serve their purpose in providing ample protection during shipping and offer a measure of presentation while in the home. Imitation leather on cardboard for Omega and synthetic-coated wood for IWC, but IWC’s box is a touch more classy and feels sturdier, although I presume that under heavy stress none would perform significantly better than the other. You get the compulsory booklets and warranty card, but no COSC chronometer certificate. Omega only provides one on request, while IWC’s own quality standards exceed those of the august Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres, hence they have not a single officially certified chronometer and even fewer Officially Certified Superlative Chronometers, whatever “superlative” may mean. Sorry, I just couldn’t resist the temptation.

The point goes to: IWC

Watch Shootout: IWC Ingenieur 40mm 3239 vs. Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra 8500   watch shootout

Watch Shootout: IWC Ingenieur 40mm 3239 vs. Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra 8500   watch shootout

CASE AND CROWN
It is safe to say that both watch cases build on their respective companies’ rich history, but that’s almost the only thing they have in common. The Omega case has the company’s exquisitely proportioned signature lyre lugs. The alternating brushed and polished surfaces are well balanced, complement the case just right and the quality of the finish and attention is excellent for this price category and about as good as you can get on a (relatively speaking) mass-produced watch.

The fairly thick sapphire crystal is slightly convex and rounds out the top of the watch in class, offering an undistorted view of the dial at literally any angle. The double-sided anti-reflective coating is top of the class, you have to turn the watch around quite a lot to even see some reflection and under some angles it the makes the crystal disappear altogether. There are also no color hues to it. The see-through case back has a slightly raised flat sapphire crystal, giving a good view of the adequately finished movement. Omega has even labeled the two spring barrels as “BARREL ONE” and “BARREL TWO” hammering home the message. There are three reasons why I generally like see-through case backs. First, they provide some welcome entertainment on those occasions when you find yourself idly waiting without anything to read. Second, I found that the silky smoothness of the crystal is more pleasant to the wrist than almost any metal. Third, on an automatic watch it is the perfect visual aid should you want to explain to the uninitiated what an automatic movement is.

The crown is generously sized, signed with the Omega logo and halfway recessed into the case, acting as a crown guard of sorts. The screwed-in crown is the only other thing in which the two watch cases are almost identical: both are ideally sized, perfectly grooved for grip but without unpleasant edges and both provide equally smooth and crisp operation with just the right amount of tactile feedback. Swiss watch making at its best. The IWC case is a much more Spartan affair, with a clear dominance of brushed surfaces, emphasizing the tool watch nature of the Ingenieur. The crystal here is flat, with an equally good – or maybe a touch better – anti-reflective coating.

The case back is the standard steel issue familiar from previous Ingenieur models. Funnily enough for a line that started life with and became known for being highly anti-magnetic, this is the only model in the new lineup which has that property. The crown guard is a welcome addition as previous models had quite visibly protruding crowns, which made them more vulnerable (although I haven’t seen any anecdotal evidence of this actually causing any problems). The case is notably slimmer (see MEASURABLE DATA) than the Omega: if you’re wearing anything with long sleeves, you’ll always be reminded that you are wearing a watch. In contrast, the Ingenieur has the ability to disappear until the time when you actually want or need to use it. And that is probably the main reason why

The point goes to: IWC

18 comments
Lode_Runner
Lode_Runner

Being an Omega AT owner, I am also partial to this debate -- but in the opposite direction than one might expect.  One of the problems with watch reviews like these is that the author has spent, at most, a few hours or maybe a day or so with the timepieces before reviewing them.  You can only get a real sense as to whether you are going to "bond" with a piece by owning it for several weeks.


In my case, I own the Omega AT 8500, but with a blue face and not the ugly red-and-blue monstrosity featured here.  Having owned it now for about five months, I find it's getting less and less wrist time.  It's a beautiful watch on paper, yes, and even in person, but it isn't that great for any occasion.  The dimensions seem wrong after a while (the 38.5 version is too small, the 41.5 too big), and the case is wwwaaayyy too thick for this type of watch, but its not suitable for sporting use, either.  The result is that this committee-designed "everyday, everywhere" watch ends up so jumbled that it ends up being "never, nowhere."  That's why you see so many of them being flipped on watch forums these days for thousands off their original price.


So unfortunately, while you make it seem as though the two watches are almost evenly matched with the Ingy slightly edging it out, the reality is that the delta would probably have been much larger if you lived with the two for an extended period of time.

gojiB
gojiB

i am, being an Ingenieur owner, am partial to this debate... however, the only watch i would ever replace my Inge with for a like for like substitution would be the royal oak...i feel that's the only step up.. of course, the fact that it's more than double the price is a huge stumbling block and up until that's possible, i will stick to my inge... 


ps - i wish there was an Inge vs. AT vs. Milgauss as well just so that i could've said i probably prefer the milgauss to the AT... I think Omega makes nice and attractive watches, just not the AT.. 

PhilMaurer
PhilMaurer

Great post, but I am a sucker for blue hands on a white watch, and being "Broad Arrow" hands is a kicker.

CndOvi
CndOvi

As far as I know IWC Ingenieur has a Sellitta SW300 movement not an ETA anymore..

jrhetherington
jrhetherington

Great comparison review.

When spending this much money on a versatile watch, typically the buyer has narrowed it down to two or three choices (I was down to AT, IWC Portofino, Breitling Navitimer, JLC Master Control), so detailed comparisons with real-world views are always very helpful.


Would love to see more like this...

Speedmaster vs. El Primero?

Planet Ocean vs. Submariner?

Portofino vs. JLC Master Control?

Others?


Oelholm
Oelholm

...That Aqua Terra is probably the worst looking of the "standard" ATs. Had it been a version with either a blue or grey dial, there would be no contest. 

With the coming of the >15.000 Gauss AT, watches such as the Ingenieur seems a bit redundant.

stevej1951
stevej1951

I share the author's love of exhibition backs I love to look at them! SO I'd go the the omega given this choice.

Fraser Petrick
Fraser Petrick

The pickiness of the inverse snob: I like to have the minute hand at least "pointy" at the end and touching the minute marks. Not fussy over the Omega arrowhead; and the IWC minute hand is a little chunky. But, otherwise, oh well, I'd learn to live with either: life's a bitch.

Piero
Piero

Very nice comparison. I realize that in order to be anti magnetic the IWC cannot have transparent back, but just the fact that Omega allows to see the movement through the back is a big plus, so i would have given the point to Omega for that.

Regarding the dial i really cannot get over the fact that the minute hand of the Omega is so different from the hour hand... And both the watches have such a poor lume, really disappointing at that price range.

Regarding the movement i am not so sure that servicing the IWC would be cheaper just because they use an Eta movement...

Looking forward to read the next comparison!

aleximd2000
aleximd2000

Nice article Albert

I do own both model and if I had to choose from them which i have to give away i would give the omega and to buy from would be first the IWC. It is very similar to comparing bmw with mercedes. It is almost impossible.

the only trick I have to tell is that my watch is with pellaton movement and in my modest opinion it is a few steps before 8500. maybe the time quest will tell which one is better.

Wait for your next articles panerai and rolex for example. Cheers

LapYoda
LapYoda

Nice comparison piece.  I wouldn't have thought to put the IWC Ingenieur up against this particular Aqua Terra, though perhaps the new antimagnetic AT 15000 Gauss would be appropriate given the antimagnetic properties of this IWC.  And, per the ABTW article on the new AT, its MSRP is identical to that of the IWC at USD $6600.


I really want to like the Ingenieur, with its Gerald Genta-influenced styling which makes it look like a cross between the AP Royal Oak and the Rolex Datejust Oysterquartz, but asking that much for a watch powered by an ETA 2892 - even considering the regulation by IWC - makes it seem like a poor value for the money.  In that price point I would think a watchmaker should have a true manufacture movement.

DenesAlbert
DenesAlbert

@Lode_Runner,

I actually own both watches and each had something like a month's wrist time at the time of writing. That's exactly why what you call the "red-and-white monstrosity" was pitted against the IWC and not any other version of the AT.  

DenesAlbert
DenesAlbert

@Piero,

Consider this: any competent watchmaker can service an ETA-based watch, so it doesn't have to be the manufacturer itself, while I'm not sure how easily independent watchmakers can source parts for the Omega 8500 movement.

DenesAlbert
DenesAlbert

@LapYoda,

in terms of pricing you may be right, but as for the anti-magnetic properties, the Ingenieur 3239 does not stand out as particularly well-protected. It has the same rating as your average IWC Pilot, whereas the Omega is in a class of its own, offering so far unheard of levels of magnetic resistance without a soft iron cage (indeed, it has a display back).

Lode_Runner
Lode_Runner

@DenesAlbert @Lode_Runner  I stand corrected, then.  You should indicate that you have owned both, for an extended period, in your reviews. It is very rare that watch reviews are written by people who have any significant wrist time with a piece, and it gives an article far more credibility -- and even more if it's a piece that the writer actually owns (rather than the bias inherent on 'borrowing' one from the manufacturer).  If I knew you owned both, to be honest, I wouldn't have referred to your AT as a monstrosity (a little harsh, it's not that bad, but not for me!)


But your article made my go out and buy an IWC 3239, which I've owned for about two months (having bought it shortly after reading this article).  I agree with your overall assessment that the "heart's choice' is the IWC, but I again, I don't think they're all that close and regard the 3239 as a far superior piece.

LapYoda
LapYoda

@DenesAlbert@LapYodaSo then would you say that despite the IWC's soft iron Faraday cage, it's not even as well-protected as a Rolex Milgauss?  That's disappointing.  Even more so when you can pick up a Milgauss on the grey market (excluding the Glace Verte) for less, and it has a manufacture movement.  The IWC seems to be a nice watch, but given the alternatives among luxury or antimagnetic watches it doesn't justify its asking price.