This article was originally published in the May/June 2022 Issue of the WatchTime print magazine.
In 2022, Porsche Design is paying tribute to some of its most iconic product creations. Among them is a faithful re-edition of “the first all-black chronograph” from 1972, the legendary Chronograph 1.
In 1972, Professor Ferdinand Alexander “Butzi” Porsche, the visionary behind the legendary Porsche 911, established his own design studio separate from the family car making business founded by his grandfather. Driven by the idea to apply his signature design language to products beyond automobiles, the first and most iconic product to emerge from that studio was a wristwatch, simply called the Chronograph 1, which would prove both influential and enduringly popular and serve as the precursor to other items under the Porsche Design brand, including sunglasses, luggage, and even electronics.
This year, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of both Porsche Design and the Chronograph 1, the company has unveiled a (almost immediately sold-out) limited-edition timepiece that channels the trendsetting look of the 1972 original, alongside a restored Porsche 911 S 2.4 Targa automobile from the same year that takes aesthetic cues from the watch and vice versa.
Visually, the Porsche Design Chronograph 1 — 1972 Limited Edition is a nearly pitch-perfect replica of the historical model — which is probably best known these days as the watch Tom Cruise sported in the 1986 blockbuster film Top Gun (and which will make another appearance in the sequel) — albeit occasionally swapping historical verisimilitude for high-tech modernity in several important aspects (the 40.8-mm case of the new model, for example, as well as the bracelet, are made of bead-blasted titanium with a black carbide coating rather than the PVD-coated stainless steel of the original). Roland Heiler, Chief Design Officer of Porsche Lifestyle Group and Managing Director of Studio F. A. Porsche, said, “Iconic designs like these are timeless and built to last. They are honest, sleek and strive to perform as best as possible without compromise. This is at the center of every Porsche Design product, and will continue to be as we move into the next 50 years.”
Like the Chronograph 1 from the 1970s, which brought elements of car dashboard design to a watch dial in a way that hadn’t been done before and also brought the now ubiquitous “all-black” aesthetic into mainstream watchmaking, the 500-piece Limited Edition comes with a matte black case, dial and bracelet; white, luminous-coated hands and markings on the dial for optimum legibility; and a high-contrast red central stopwatch hand behind an anti-glare crystal, made of hardened sapphire. True to the 1972 model are the typography on the tachymeter scale surrounding the dial as well as for the day and date display at 3 o’clock, and the baton shape of the hands. A vintage “PD” logo appears on the dial, crown, clasp and caseback.
Behind it, the chronograph features a Porsche Design chronograph caliber. T he newly developed Porsche Design Caliber WERK 01.140, from the WERK 01. family of automatic movements, which Porsche Design began producing in 2017 at its horological workshop in Solothurn, Switzerland, is a COSC-certified chronometer with an integrated chronograph function and a 48-hour power reserve generated by a black chromeplated “Porsche Design Icon” rotor.
Both the watch and the movement were developed and manufactured at Porsche Design’s in-house watchmaking facility. Unsurprisingly, the 500-piece limited edition was quickly sold out shortly after its introduction in January. The good news, however, is that we will most likely see more versions of this model in 2022. After all, an iconic design such as the Chronograph 1 is indeed timeless.
Porsche Design Chronograph 1 – 1972 Limited Edition Specs:
Manufacturer: Porsche Design Timepieces AG, Biberiststrasse 18, 4500 Solothurn, Switzerland
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds (subdial at 9 o’clock), daydate display, chronograph: hours (0 to 12), minutes (30), (red) central seconds hand
Movement: Porsche Design 01.140 chronograph, COSC certified, 28,800 vph, 25 jewels, 48-hour power reserve, diameter = 30 mm, height: 7.9 mm
Case: Glass-bead-blasted titanium case with black titanium carbide coating (uncoated titanium caseback), sapphire crystal, water resistant to 100 m
Bracelet and clasp: Glass-bead-blasted black titanium bracelet with titanium carbide coating, steel folding clasp with fine adjustment
Variations: Chronograph 1 — 911 Edition 50 Years Porsche Design with modern logo and sapphire caseback (Ref. 6044.0001), limited to 750 pieces and available exclusively to buyers of the new Porsche 911 Edition 50 Years Porsche Design sports car
Dimensions: Diameter = 40.8 mm, height = 14.15 mm