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Interview Engineering Time At Porsche Design

Interview Engineering Time At Porsche Design

After goatee-brandishing watch geek Ferdinand Alexander Porsche – creator of the first Porsche 911, and the grandson of Ferdinand Porsche – left the family car company, the first thing he did at the recently founded Porsche Design Studio was plan the world’s first all-black wristwatch. This 1972 powder-coated chronograph (PVD was not utilized in the watch business around then) made in collaboration with Orfina, has as of late soared from $1,500 to $4,000 at auctions. 

F. A. Porsche, watch guy.

Left, Orfina for Porsche Design; right, Porsche Design Monobloc Actuator Chronograph

But hang on, you may say – what do you mean he left the car company? It says Porsche Design on the dial, isn’t that right? Undoubtedly it does, yet Porsche Design is an element free from its proprietor, the car manufacturer Porsche AG. Without a doubt, there are collaborations between the two. However, Porsche Design, housed on the edges of the charming Alpine village of Zell am See in Austria, is an autonomous brand whose portfolio stretches out from Swiss made watches and eyewear to blades, luggage and sportswear. 

Roland Heiler of Porsche Design Studios/

Roland Heiler, Managing Director of Porsche Design Studios, and Gerhard Novak, General Manager of Porsche Design Timepieces, talked watches with me at Porsche Design Studios last year. In 2019 the huge news from Porsche Design was the 1919 Globetimer UTC. The 42 millimeter case uses a monobloc case with large openings for attaching the strap, rather than conventional hauls. If you travel east, basically press the upper pusher for a one hour forward hop, and for returning in time when traveling west, press the lower button. Thankfully the date also follows along automatically, if you cross a date line. 

The 1919 Globetimer UTC.

“It couldn’t be operated in an easier way,” explains Novak. The watch has five hands – hours, minutes, seconds, second time region and date – laying on the middle axis of the COSC-certified development. On the sunburst dial’s inside ring there is a date indicated by a small arrow, and a larger arrow shows the subsequent time region on the 24 hour outside ring. To eliminate confusion, there is also an AM/PM indication at 9 o’clock.

The monobloc case is also dynamically waterproof, meaning that you can even operate the crown and the pushers submerged. “You can’t really seal pushers. Instead we seal the chronograph arms from the development. This is similar to the vault controlling framework in a Porsche car, where motors are isolated the same way: The valves are completely sealed yet moving,” says Novak.

The case of the 1919 Globetimer UTC is made of titanium, much the same as all Porsche Design watches after 2014. Should you find one with a bronze-conditioned case, don’t be fooled – if you heat titanium to simply above 600°, it takes on a bronze color. 

In 2014, Porsche Design reclaimed all rights and full control of creation after having worked for many years in collaboration with authorized partners, including IWC and Eterna. These collaborations were acknowledged on the dial, which also carried the manufacturer’s logo. Yet, after 2014 you won’t find any co-branding on its watches. 

“Previously we never delivered our own watches; we created the plans. We realized if we want to develop our watch business, we can’t leave a major part of the duty regarding the outcome to another person, which is the reason we made that large stride,” says Heiler, Annual creation is around 10,000 pieces for each year. 

That enormous advance incorporates its own Swiss manufacture for assembly, designing and after sales administration, allowing the adage, “planned in Austria, Swiss Made.” 

“The plan reasoning of Porsche Design is to upgrade function. To diminish the form directly down to the essentials,” Heiler explained.

“This is all based on F. A. Porsche’s tenet, which could be summarized with ‘form equals function.’ If one of the two is dominating the other it isn’t all that great, because one has to make a compromise. He also held in huge favor the idea of items being lifetime companions: You purchase something and have it forever.” 

Gerhard Novak, General Manager of Porsche Design

If you ask me, this way of thinking is best typified in the all-black chronograph named the Monobloc Actuator, a replacement to the 1980 Titanium Chronograph which was the world’s first titanium chronograph. Instead of the familiar pushers, the chronograph features a solitary rocker switch incorporated into the bead-blasted 45.5-millimeter case. (Check out HODINKEE’s hands-on from the 2017 launch, here .)

Says Novak: “This watch may not come across as a chronograph at first sight, because it’s feeling the loss of those articulated buttons.” 

The huge challenge was the turning mechanism for the rocker arm, which should always get back to perfect alignment in the zero position. “We required an innovation that allowed this to return to zero after in excess of 10,000 pushes and never at any point have an interfered with line on the dynamically waterproof lodging. We settled this by stabilizing the rocker with a second turning point. Another challenge requiring extraordinary exactness is that the pusher component actually moves over the glass, which it should never contact. Every which way there is zero tolerance,” Heiler says proudly. 

The rocker is surely incredibly stable. During the meeting, and a hands-on encounter following it, I attempted the pusher around multiple times, and I can confirm that the rocker mechanism got back to zero perfectly without fail.

Now that full control is back with the company, Porsche Design is also doing collaborations with the car company as flyback chronographs. A few models are available to anyone, yet for others you should be the proprietor of a Porsche car. Perhaps the most attractive is the restricted version Chronograph 911 Turbo S Exclusive Series with leather straps in exactly the same material as the modified inside of your car. In any case, it doesn’t stop there: The rotor is a miniaturized variant of the alloy haggle in place with a similar hubcap. With the restricted releases the car proprietor is just allowed to get one watch (with the chassis number engraved working on this issue), a lot to the chagrin of some Porsche collectors. 

At the finish of our meeting the team shows me the still completely immaculate office of F. A. Porsche: 1970s leather turn chair, composing work area from the Austrian furniture company Bene, and an outdated stand-up drafting board. The founder’s watch interest is confirmed by several watch books and magazines covering the racks. I glance toward the family farm up the slope, where he was covered in 2012. I’m certain he’s peering down from any place he is, pleased with what Porsche Design has become.

Find out additional about Porsche Design watches, right here.

Interview Engineering Time At Porsche Design
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