Today's post comes courtesy of our newest contributor, Carson Chan. Not only is Carson an avid air-cooled Porsche fan and collector, he knows his watches better than most. Carson spent 15-years with Bonhams as their Managing Director & Watch Specialist for Asia Pacific. Currently, Carson spends time as Head of Mission for the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie in Greater China. Carson documents his love of watches and Porsches on his two popular Instagram accounts: @thecarsonchan and @watchprofessor.
There are two major international watch exhibitions each year: SIHH held in Geneva and BaselWorld held in Basel. BaselWorld is the Holy Grail for a collector like me. Many Swiss watch brands display their newest collections at BaselWorld. For watch geeks, this is an incredibly exciting time; being the first people to view the hottest, newest watches first hand. While most collectors and enthusiasts focus their attention to the “haute horlogerie” or “high-end” watch making; I was excited to re-visit Porsche Design – a brand, until recently, not really known for making the most complicated functions or watches.
Why do I Like Porsche Design?
The most obvious reason is that I’m a Porsche (air-cooled) fan. I have owned, and still own, several air-cooled Porsches. Like many of you, my passion for Porsche started when I was just a kid living in Hong Kong. A neighbor bought a 911 Turbo, it made this glorious noise when he warmed it every morning, and the color – ice green – was absolutely captivating. That 911 Turbo was my first exposure to the Porsche brand.
When I grew older, about 12 or 13 years of age, my dad bought a pair of sunglasses made by Porsche Design. It was one of the their earliest pairs with interchangeable lenses and it was love at first sight! Following that, a variety of Porsche Design products were always on my shopping list - money clips, key chains, wallets, etc. Their design and style just speaks my language.
It was in the mid-80s that I started to notice Porsche Design (PD) watches. At that time, all PD watches were made by IWC. Prior to that PD had partnered with the likes Orfina in the 70’s and Eterna after IWC. Personally, the time when PD watches were made in conjunction with IWC was my favorite era. A time of elegant, clean, no nonsense design. However, things took a turn when PD left IWC and went with Eterna. In my eyes, their design lost direction and the principle of “form follows function”.
Making A New Statement
This new 2017 collection is a huge departure from anything previous. Completely new, the Monobloc Actuator is absolutely impressive. PD has gone back to its roots, way back to the beginning, to rediscover their DNA. Taking all the iconic design elements and incorporating new ideas to come up with the all new Monobloc Actuator.
Titanium and black coating are two of the signature design cues from Porsche Design watches
At first glance, you may not notice the usual pushers located at 2 and 4 o’clock on most chronographs. That’s because in 2013 the designer and engineers at Porsche Design Timepieces began an intensive study of the conventional operation of the chronograph. They questioned the previously typical approach, which involves two pushers located on the side of the case above and below the crown. This exposed position is a weakness because it makes the pushers vulnerable to shock and other external influences. This is precisely the reason the Titanium Chronograph from 1980 had integrated flush pushers. With this approach in mind, the design team aimed to make the operating pushers disappear entirely. In true racing spirit, the designers believed that if a component that is not present at all can never malfunction.
Porsche Design has taken what Porsche motorsport has learned, and developed from years of racing success, and transferred these technologies to their watch design. The result is a completely new watchcase; instead of the conventional chronograph pushers, the Monobloc Actuator chronograph is set into motion by a single, pressure-operated, double borne rocker switch integrated into the case. The concept of this pusher shares the principle of force transmission by a camshaft in an automobile’s engine. Furthermore, the case of the watch is designed in a way that the chrono pushers are actually operable under water (most of the chronographs on the market are not able to perform under water).
As the name MONOBLOC ACTUATOR GMT-Chronotimer suggest, on top of being a chronograph, this watch also offers the GMT function which allows you to read two time zone at a glance. There are a total of 5 variations of the watch (4 production versions and 1 limited edition), each comes in a 45.5 millimeter titanium case. Available in a matte black or a deep blue sunburst-dial they come with a rubber strap, or an all-titanium bracelet, which utilizes a folding clasp with integrated fine-adjustment-mechanism.
Monobloc Actuator 24H-Chronotimer Limited Edition
Porsche Design has also crafted a special edition finished in black titanium-carbide coating over its titanium case, a matte black dial, and a checkered-flag- design function indicator at “9 o’clock” -- especially useful due to its legibility. This model is exclusively available on a rubber strap with deployment buckle.
Inside, the watch houses an extremely reliable ETA 7754 automatic chronograph movement. (For those of you who are familiar with the ETA movement the 7754 is a variant of the 7750, sharing over 90% of the components, and is considered to be the work horse of chronograph movements).
How to Choose
It’s very difficult to pick a favorite! The black titanium coating, combined with the normal edition black dial, is very much a reflection of the vintage spirit. However, the blue dial with non-coated Titanium is very attractive, too. It shows the design and the shape of the case the best in my opinion.
For more information, pricing and to order, check out the Porsche Design website.