Watch of the Week: Porsche Design’s New Chronograph 1
Have you seen the latest models from Porsche? No, we’re not talking about cars—we’re eyeing the new slate of Porsche Design watches. Last week, the Porsche lifestyle brand released a lineup of new timepieces, and one watch in particular stood out: Porsche Design Chronograph 1 1972 Limited Edition. It’s a (mostly) faithful recreation of Porsche Design’s first-ever watch from 1972, but the 2022 version comes with two key upgrades: a lightweight titanium case and a modern movement. If you’re a fan of Porsche’s iconic sports cars and sleek, cutting-edge design, this watch is definitely one to consider for your collection.
Ferdinand Alexander Porsche was an influential figure at Porsche—he designed the 911, arguably the company’s most iconic vehicle. While the car remains his crowning achievement, F.A. Porsche was also interested in applying the company’s design ethos to other products, including watches. That led him to launch Porsche Design, and he helped develop the group’s first timepiece, the Porsche Design Chronograph I, which was released in 1972. The watch made waves in the horological establishment: It’s generally regarded as the first all-black watch, and it showcased a unique, highly legible design inspired by the dashboard layout of Porsche cars.
According to Porsche, the Chronograph I was originally intended to be given as a gift to the company’s employees, but it quickly found favor elsewhere. Legendary race car driver Mario Andretti wore one, and the Chronograph I even made an appearance on the big screen: Tom Cruise had one on his wrist in Top Gun.
The new Porsche Design Chronograph 1 1972 Limited Edition builds on that legacy without changing too much. The 2022 model was designed and developed in-house at Porsche Design’s watchmaking headquarters in Switzerland. Aesthetically, it’s a dead ringer for the ’72 original. It features a blacked-out case, dial, and band; utilizes the same baton-style hands; and features a tachymeter scale (used for measuring speed) and day/date window—all rendered in the same font as the original model. Even the Porsche logo on this watch is a throwback: Instead of using the 21st-century version, the new Chronograph I is stamped with the 1970s version.
Like the original, legibility is paramount on this watch. The hour indices are luminescent for good visibility in all conditions, and the red seconds hand is clearly visible against the monochrome color palette of the dial.
But closer inspection reveals two important differences from the watch F.A. Porsche developed decades ago. First, the case isn’t stainless steel, but ultralight, highly durable titanium. It’s a definite upgrade, and also a subtle nod to later Porsche chronographs: Porsche Design used titanium on a watch released in 1980, a notable first in the industry. Second, the new Chronograph I features a modern Porsche Design WERK 01.140 automatic movement. It’s COSC-certified for superb day-to-day reliability, so even though this watch looks like a 50-year-old classic, it’ll run like a brand-new model.
Just 500 of the new timepieces will be made. Even though it’s technically a re-issue, the Chronograph I is destined to be an icon in its own right.