30th November 2018, Los Angeles
At the Los Angeles Auto Show this week, Porsche unveiled the eagerly awaited new, all-aluminium Porsche 911 (Type 992) and the new Porsche Design timepiece honouring the 911: the Porsche Design 911 Chronograph Timeless Machine Limited Edition. Although the watch will not be at points of sale until April 2019, they were compelled to reveal it to coincide with the launch of the newest Porsche 911 car.
“It’s another great timepiece backing our commitment to the Porsche legacy. We like to remind people we are the only watch brand owned by a car company, and as such, we’re able to harness all of their technology and resources on the backend and incorporate them into our development processes.” said Adam McCollum of Porsche Design of America.
Porsche 911 (Type 992)
The new 911 (Type 992) is the eighth version in this sports car’s iconic 55-year history and remains faithful to rear mounted, flat-6 engine (water-cooled and twin-turbocharged) and to the timeless 911 profile, wide haunches and round headlights. Now, all models, irrespective of number of driven wheels, will get the wide fenders previously reserved for 4-wheel drive cars. There are technical improvements like a wider front track (more stability), an 8-speed PDK gearbox and a more powerful engine (443hp for the S and 4S models).
The ethos of the Porsche Design brand originates from it’s founder Ferdinand Alexander Porsche (Butzi) who designed the first Porsche 911. Born on 11th December 1935, the eldest of four sons of Dorothea and Ferry Porsche, he spent much of his childhood in the Stuttgart design studio and workshops of his grandfather and company founder Ferdinand Porsche.
In 1972, Butzi started an independent Porsche Design firm handling contract work designing everything from industrial machinery to airplane cockpits and ocean yachts. It is now known for its own products: Porsche Design-branded watches, pens, sunglasses, knives, clothing, appliances, etc. Today, Porsche Design is owned by Porsche AG, though the family maintains a significant holding.
F.A. Porsche (Butzi) was a strong proponent of “form follows function” and loved the clean lines and legibility of black dials with white markers on automotive and aviation instruments. Porsche Design released its first watch in 1972 – Chronograph 1 – world’s first all-black coated titanium watch with a black dial, case, and bracelet. After 46 years, it still looks contemporary today.
Before starting its own Watch Division, Porsche Design collaborated with established watch companies like Orfina, IWC and Eterna to realise its designs. The era with IWC (1978 – 1997) is the most admired with the release of a slew of iconic, nay, cult watches. Unfortunately, that period coincided with the fallow “quartz crisis” period when few mechanical watches were sold so they are uncommon.
Porsche Design 911 Chronograph Timeless Machine LE
On paper the technical specifications are quite standardised for the industry. As expected, there are 911 pieces in the Limited Edition but I’m amused by the tongue-in-cheek setting of the price at EUR €4,911. Due to foreign exchange rates, they couldn’t quite manage the ‘911’ price digits in America but got pretty close with USD $5,411.
Case: 42mm diameter x 14.90mm height – titanium case, sandblasted – sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating – sapphire exhibition caseback – 100m water-resistant
Movement: ETA Valjoux 7750 calibre – automatic – 25 jewels – 28,800vph (4Hz) – 48-hour power reserve – hours, minutes, chronograph seconds, two sub-dial counters and date – Incabloc shock protection
Strap: leather and yarn used in Porsche 911 interior
This watch comes in a special edition box with limitation badge. Come April 2019, you’ll find it in Porsche Design Stores, Porsche Centres, selected dealers and online at www.porsche-design.com.
The Porsche Design 911 Chronograph Timeless Machine Limited Edition is the latest member of their 1919 Chronotimer collection imbued with design motifs inspired by its latest 911 (Type 992) sports car to brings the style and spirit of Porsche to your wrist.
Titanium is standard for Porsche Design watches since 1972 and this 42mm x 14.90mm case is shared with other 1919 Chronograph models, inspired by the lightweight construction of Porsche cars. Weight reduction design cues like the angled cut-out lugs and a smooth ‘integrated look’ to the strap mimic sports car designs. The strap is made from the same leather and thread as used in Porsche interiors. As for car instruments, the bezel is narrow with a low profile and the curved chronograph pushers conform to an “aerodynamic” appearance. The large crown with the Porsche Design logo also sports the “functional” tight knurled pattern for grip. The case is water ristant to 100m even with a rear sapphire caseback.
A stylised white silhouette of a Porsche 911 car featues on the black dial at 3 o’clock with PORSCHE DESIGN and logo applique above. The sub-dial at 9 o’clock has the words TIMELESS MACHINE but no running seconds hand. Then, you realise that the words move around like a seconds hand. The chronograph counters are at 12 and 6 o’clock; black sub-dial hands have red tips and the central seconds hand is bright red.
The keen of eye will have noticed that the sub-dials and hands resemble car dashboard instruments. The even more eagle-eyed will notice the cheeky “secret signature” on the lower sub-dial with an ’11’ printed instead of ’12’, so the adjacent ‘9’ shows 911. The hour and minute hands are black with white markers.
The date display at 4 o’clock shows a date disc with the same background colour and font to match the dial.
The ETA Valjoux 7750 ‘engine’ is the stock chronograph movement in the industry but more importantly, it is the same one that powered the first all-black Porsche Design Chronograph I in 1972. The latest version is equipped with a customised rotor with the Porsche Design logo.
Previous Porsche Design Articles
After decades in my “hobby”, I have to confess that as a group, watch collectors can be a little geeky with preconcieved ideas influenced by peer pressure and marketing hype. We find “tribes” dedicated to their favourite watch brands that I need not name here – you know which ones!
The same applies to the automotive world with alliances to Porsche, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Mercedes-Benz etc.
Usually, I have admired Porsche Design products without necessarily worrying about driving a different brand of car. The Porsche Design sunglasses, wallets, pens or watches stood on their own merit with the ‘Bauhaus’ ethic with clean design motifs and innovative materials.
With the new 911 Chronograph Timeless Machine LE, Porsche Design have hit the sweet spot for aficionados of design, whether or not they actually drive a Porsche. It can be a matching accessory for your ‘ride’ or just a tribute to an iconic design silhouette. I particularly like the hand-less TIMELESS MACHINE running seconds indicator.
Well done, Porsche Design!
Author’s Biography: Melvyn Teillol-Foo (MTF)
Dr Melvyn Teillol-Foo is a contributor on AlphaLuxe web-zine.
He was former CEO of PuristSPro.com horology discussion fora. He blends his scientific medical objectivity from the pharmaceutical industry with purist passion, in his musings about watches, travel, wine, food and other epicurean delights.
His travelogue ‘Lazing’ and feasting ‘Grazing’ series of articles have now passed into “mythic legend” on the original ‘ThePuristS.com’ website. Those were the halcyon days when he was “rich and famous” that he remembers with bittersweet fondness.
Dr Teillol-Foo is a quoted enthusiast on the watch industry, appearing in feature articles and interviews by Wall Street Journal, International Herald Tribune, Sunday Times (London), Chronos (Japan), Citizen Hedonist (France) and other publications. He has authored articles for magazines like International Watch (iW) – both U.S. & Chinese editions, ICON (Singapore), August Man (Singapore), Comfort (China) and The Watch (Hong Kong).