Professor F.A. Porsche, originator of the iconic Porsche 911, founded the Porsche Design Studio in 1972, intending to apply the principles of luxury automobile design to other accessories such as watches. Porsche Design timepieces have adopted many such design and technical elements over the years, but not until this year, and the launch of Porsche Design’s new Custom-Built Timepiece program, have the worlds of car and watch design connected so seamlessly.
The program is based on the same production principles used in the manufacturing of Porsche sports cars, and the new digital configurator is based on the existing Porsche car configurator that customers can use to personalize their vehicle. Offering more than 1.5 million possible combinations, the configurator — which will be available on-site at participating Porsche dealerships — allows its user to create a “dream timepiece,” based on the brand’s Chronotimer Series 1 model, that will match his or her Porsche 911 car. According to Porsche Design, its Custom-Built Timepiece Program represents the first time in Swiss watchmaking that the concept of a fully customized watch, tailored to pair with a car, will enter into series production.
How does it work? A prospective owner navigates a menu on the configurator to visualize the watch down to its smallest detail. The first step is the 42-mm case, which can be made in either glass-bead-blasted natural titanium or black PVD-coated titanium — both materials historically associated with Porsche Design Timepieces since the 1980s. Titanium, which is also used in carmaking, is 43 percent lighter than steel but also strong, corrosion-resistant and hypo-allergenic. The layer of titanium carbide on the PVD versions adds another layer of hardness and wear-resistance. Next, the user has the opportunity to customize the signature element of the self-winding movement, the new Caliber WERK 01.100, developed in-house at Porsche Design Timepieces AG in Solothurn, Switzerland. The COSC chronometer-certified caliber, which boasts a 48-hour power reserve, has a fully customizable winding rotor: six designs are available, including a version with the two-tone Porsche Crest in the center and another that resembles a 911 Carrera wheel with its central gold badge. The colors on the rotor’s edge can be chosen to match those of the wheel edges on the owner’s car.
Porsche Design offers up to 300 different configurations in the area of wristbands, both metal and leather. The metal bracelets, with individually screwed links, are made of titanium — like the cases, either bead-blasted or black PVD-coated — with options for either lateral buttons or a seven-step fine adjustment for their butterfly clasp closures. The leather straps, as one might expect by now, are made of the same hides used for Porsche car interiors and come in all 14 colors offered in the Porsche 911. There are also 19 different colors offered, in genuine Porsche yarn, for the contrast stitching. Porsche Design’s quick-change side-button system even allows the owner to change between straps without the need for a tool.
An array of inlaid colored rings, with minute markers in the style of F.A. Porsche’s classic speedometer, can be used to personalize the dial and to coordinate it with a car’s paint job or interior detailing — with 27 distinct colors to choose from. Two styles are available for the hands — the dressier, black “Essence” or the sporty, matte-white, red-tipped “Performance.” As for the bezel, it can be etched with either a traditional 60-minute scale or an auto-racing-inspired tachymeter for calculating speed over distances. Finally, both the watch’s caseback and its special collectors’ box can be laser-engraved with a personalized inscription — if desired, in the same font or lettering used on the rear of the owner’s car.
The prices for each configuration are displayed in real time as a prospective owner designs and assembles the watch via a series of pop-up menus. The base price of a Porsche Design custom-built timepiece is $6,000 and ranges up to $12,500 depending on the options chosen. The time from order placement to delivery, Porsche Design says, will be eight to 12 weeks. When a customer makes a selection, a digital process is triggered that modifies all workflows from supply chain to design and production; this style of sequential production required Porsche Design to institute an entirely new system. “To be able to offer in series production a watch with more than 1.5 million configuration possibilities, we had to make significant changes to the current ordering and manufacturing process,” says Rolf Bregmann, managing director of Porsche Design Timepieces AG. “These include the way in which a customer configures a personal chronograph to match a car.”
Gerhard J. Novak, managing director of Porsche Design Timepieces, sees the new program as the culmination of years of effort in bringing the company’s watchmaking closer to the principles of carmaking that its founder envisioned. “With Ferdinand Alexander Porsche as the founder of Porsche Design and creator of the Porsche 911, we have the ultimate connection and ability to authentically merge our iconic timepieces with automotive engineering expertise,” Novak says. “For Porsche Design, watches have been the central theme in the almost 50-year history of the company.”
The Custom-Built Timepieces program will be available in Germany starting July 2020, and in the United States starting in September 2020. For more technical detail on the Porsche Chronotimer Series 1, click here.