Porsche Design invites customers to configure chronographs according to their own wishes. We did just that to match the fastest and most expensive Porsche, the new 911 Turbo S. And we conquered the highest Alpine passes with the roadster, the watch and their special engines.
It’s mid-July, but the weather forecast for the Stelvio Pass in the Italian Alps calls for sleet and doesn’t sound very inviting. Fortunately, the predictions turned out to be somewhat worse than reality. One hairpin turn after another, we ascend to 9,045 feet above sea level on our way up to the Alps’ second highest pass. On the short straights when the Porsche 911 Turbo S sprints forward, we can really feel each of the 650 horsepower lurking inside the six-cylinder boxer engine in the rear. Light rain sets in every now and then, so we leave the 911’s red convertible top up for the time being. Everything feels very cozy inside, where we’re nestled into comfortable 18-way adjustable seats and surrounded by luxurious two-tone leather in Bordeaux red and black with contrasting red stitching. We’ve configured the color scheme of the Porsche Design watch we’re wearing to match this roadster.
Porsche Design’s Custom-Built program now enables buyers to individually configure chronographs online to match Porsche sports cars. There are two options. You can design your watch with a bezel, strap and contrasting stitching in any color combination you like and you can also choose among other options. There are no fewer than 1.5 million different ways to transform your ideas into stylish realities. The other option is to configure a Porsche 911, click on “further offers” and let the software suggest a wristwatch designed to look like a miniature version of your sports car. The program automatically selects a strap in the same color as your car’s interior and with a self-winding rotor to match the wheel rims, even if you chose them in your car’s color. This lets you take your Porsche along with you where lack of space would make it impossible — to your favorite bar, aboard an airplane, or into the office.
As it does with a personalized sports car, the configurator creates a code that you can use to order your customized timepiece with personalized engraving from a Porsche Center. A few weeks later, the watch and, if ordered, the car will have been built according to your wishes and you can come in and pick them up.
Arriving at the top of the pass, the cloud cover finally breaks open and the sun peeks through. We park and enjoy the scenery. The panoramic view reveals remnants of snow on rocky cliff faces. Shreds of clouds soar past the Ortler’s summit. The road clings closely to the mountainside as it ascends the steep slope through countless serpentines. After sipping a cappuccino at the Hotel Passo Stelvio, we climb back into our ultra-911.
An Instrument for the Wrist
We notice that the design of the watch’s main dial and elapsed-time counters are modeled after the car’s rev counter, which is the only analog instrument in the 911. These indicators all have throating with recessed luminous indexes that reach to the end of the diagonal, thin lines between each pair of wider indexes and a grooved texture. Red zero indexes on the chronograph’s elapsed-minute and elapsed-hour counters refer to the rev counter’s red zone, which is marked with a red index and begins at 7,000 RPMs on the Turbo S. Porsche Design has replicated this in great detail. Meticulous workmanship is also evident in the recessed and polished Porsche Design logo.
We fly through the hairpin turns on our way down the slope, braking only occasionally for an oncoming bus or truck. The Turbo S is quite wide on this narrow road; its rear end is 4 centimeters wider than its predecessor, which also has characteristic air intakes for the twin turbos. On the other hand, this extra width keeps the car very stable in the curves at high speeds. The 315-mm rear wheels stay firmly glued to the pavement. Along with the rear-heavy design, four-wheel drive helps us accelerate out of the curves. The engine’s positioning behind the rear axle (as in all 911 models) adds ample weight and assures good traction for the rear tires.
The newly developed 3.8-liter engine is a six-cylinder boxer. It’s again designed with a low-rise profile to keep the car’s center of gravity as low as possible. The two turbochargers with variable turbine geometry are larger than in the predecessor. They now rotate in opposite directions and contribute their fair share to the engine’s 650 horsepower.
Regarding engines: the Porsche Design Chronograph also has a new motor. Caliber 01.200, which was developed in collaboration with the Swiss movement specialist Concepto Watch Factory, debuted in the 1919 Chronotimer Flyback in 2017. Caliber 01.100 follows this year without the flyback function, so a watch that encases it cannot begin a new elapsed-time measurement until the previous one is ended. This chronograph with cam-shift control borrows some constructive details from ETA/Valjoux’s tried-and-tested Caliber 7750, but it has significantly different optics. The base plate, several bridges and the balance cock are coated with matte black PVD. Porsche Design’s logo appears as a handsome engraving. The bridge above the automatic-winding mechanism offers a view of the gears that accomplish this important task. Overall, however, relatively little of the movement can be seen because it’s hidden beneath the attractive wheel-rim-style rotor.
Artistry in Miniature
The rotor is a 1-to-22 scaled-down version of the centrally locking, bicolor wheel rim on our Turbo S. The rotor is manufactured to a tolerance of 5/1,000ths of a millimeter. The colorful Porsche emblem on the rotor is only 3.3 mm wide, but it accurately reproduces all the details, some of which can only be seen with the aid of a magnifying glass. Porsche Design has created a miniature work of art with this wheel-rim rotor, which further enhances the feeling of actually wearing your own personalized Porsche roadster on your wrist.
The road becomes less winding as we near the valley. This gives us an opportunity to test the acceleration with Launch-Control. Here’s how: Choose the “Sport Plus” program via the dial on the steering wheel, put your left foot on the brake pedal and your right foot fully on the gas pedal, let the system adjust the engine speed and then lift your foot off the brake. The Turbo S zooms forward and the backs of our heads bang against the headrests. We reach 100 km/h exactly 2.8 seconds later. This acceleration is absolutely unbelievable. It has all the adrenalin-surging tingle and addictive potential of a roller coaster. Not even a Lamborghini Aventador SVJ or a McLaren Senna can top this.
On the way to our test drive, we drove along a stretch of German autobahn that was free from a speed limit. This offered a perfect opportunity for the Turbo S to strut its stuff to the max. Even if you’re doing 200 km/h, the acceleration still pushes you back into your seat when you step on the gas. We easily reached 330 km/h (205 mph) before increasing traffic prevented further high-speed driving. Thanks to its active aerodynamics with extended front and rear spoilers, the Turbo S clings safely to the road while its driver feels like Han Solo aboard the Millennium Falcon as he leaps through hyperspace, including tunnel vision with blurring stars.
When applied to watches, performance primarily means precision. And Porsche Design’s caliber earned the highest distinction here: a chronometer certificate from the COSC, the independent Swiss chronometer testing institute. Our test watch gained 4 seconds per day on the wrist, which is within the tolerance range specified by the chronometer standard. A stop-seconds function facilitates to-the-second time setting. Porsche Design displays the small seconds on a disk marked with 11 slim strokes and one longer, wider line. Two lateral bars divide this window into twin arcs so it’s easy to see when the longer line is at the top. Otherwise, luminous and clearly defined hands and indexes assure very good readability of the time by day and by night.
Porsche’s dashboard instruments are also clearly defined or digitally displayed very sharply. But the outer two of the five circular instruments, which display the less important information, are hidden from the driver’s view by the steering wheel. This also is where you can find the shift paddles, which are really fun to use on this country road here in South Tyrol. When we reach the outskirts of the village of Prad, the automatic mechanism downshifts so swiftly from eighth to second gear that we can scarcely count the sequence.
All other functions are easy to operate using handsome pushers and a speedy touchscreen, but it takes a bit of searching through the menus to find some of them, for example, the automatic start-stop function. The small gear-selector lever may be a matter of taste, but the highlight is undoubtedly the control for the driving modes with the boost knob. In villages or on expressways, the 911 almost drives like a sedan in the quiet “Normal” mode. You can enjoy the power and sound in the “Sport” mode on winding roads, but the car still seems low-key for a vehicle in this performance class. And in “Sport Plus,” the Turbo S slams almost painfully into gear and maintains a high level of engine speed, with maximum downforce through the spoilers. This mode is best experienced on a racetrack.
The Porsche Design chronograph is also easy to operate. The large, easy-grip crown is convenient to unscrew and pull out. The pushers demand a fair dose of force, as is usual for a chronograph with a cam-shift mechanism, but their ample size helps to conceal this fact. The double folding clasp with two safety pushers, which is made of titanium like the case, opens without much pressure, holds securely and lets the wearer easily adjust the wristband’s length via a pin. The quick-change system is particularly convenient. Its pushers are hidden under the strap between the lugs. You can also order additional leather straps or a titanium bracelet when configuring your personalized version.
A Question of Price
Of course, these pleasures come with a price tag. The speedster, which includes a few costly extras like a Burmester surround-sound system and a night-vision assistant, will set you back a more than quarter of a million dollars. Without the extras, the basic price is $203,500. This may sound like a lot of money, but it’s a reasonable price to pay for such a superlative sports car. The understated exterior may not appeal to everyone: most people could hardly tell the Turbo S from a normal 911, which costs only half as much and has 265 fewer horsepower.
And the chronograph? It starts at $5,150 in the basic configuration. Like the 911 speedster, a surcharge gets you extra features. To create our test watch, we added $250 for the Bordeaux red ring around the dial and another $250 for the Bordeaux red leather wristband. Then we threw in $2,000 for the chic rotor, which is styled to match the centrally locking wheel rims of the Turbo S and has a colorful Porsche logo. Adding up all the extras results in a total price of $7,650. That’s nearly as much as you’d pay for a manufacture chronograph like Breitling’s Navitimer or Zenith’s El Primero, but Porsche Design’s concept is unique — and uniquely successful. Furthermore, this chronograph can be customized to make its future owner’s personal wishes come true — a luxurious bonus that ably defines the contemporary concept of luxury. So if you’re contemplating the purchase of a Porsche 911, you should definitely take advantage of the ingenious option of also treating yourself to a matching chronograph. It’s like having a Porsche 911 conveniently parked on your wrist. You can enjoy this watch along with the car on mountain passes and freeways. And the timepiece will remind you of your roadster when you’re chilling in a hotel or at a restaurant.