When Ferdinand Alexander Porsche, the creator of the Porsche 911, left the family car business in 1972 to found his eponymous design firm, Studio F.A. Porsche, the first product he created was a watch “that looked completely different from everything else in that category.” Or so Roland Heiler, managing director of the studio, which produces the premium Porsche Design brand, told guests gathered in the Porsche hospitality space in Carmel Valley, Calif., earlier this month during Monterey Car Week.
“It was a completely black watch,” Heiler said. “Some newspaper articles at the time said, ‘Great, a watch we can finally wear for a funeral.’ But it was not black because Mr. Porsche woke up one morning and said, ‘I think I’ll do something black.’ It was mainly function; he looked at a watch as an instrument of precision. On a race car dashboard, everything is black because you don’t want any distractions or reflections in the windscreen. He just wanted the best readability he could possibly produce. That’s how the first black Chronograph 1 came to be.”
The anecdote was among several Heiler shared during the week, which marked the U.S. debut of the Porsche Design 1919 Globetimer UTC, a traveler’s watch designed in the same practical, iconoclastic spirit as its earliest predecessor.
Available now in four variations—titanium with black dial ($6,350), titanium with brown dial ($6,350), titanium with blue dial ($6,900) and 18-karat gold with black dial ($31,500)—the 1919 Globetimer UTC can be set to local time without losing a second in the time-setting process. Eastbound travelers simply need to press the “+” button to advance the second time zone by an hour, while westbound travelers press the “–” button to move the hand backward. The design takes its inspiration from the PDK dual-clutch transmission in Porsche cars, reflecting Porsche Design’s unique relationship with its sister brand in the automotive space.
“In 2014, one of the thoughts we had was how can we finally fulfill Mr. Porsche’s wish to create the perfect travel watch?” said Gerhard Novak, general manager of Porsche Design Timepieces, citing F.A. Porsche’s famous dictum, “If you want to do something right, you have to do it on your own.”
That same year, the company established its own manufacturing facility in Solothurn, Switzerland. The calibre that powers the new UTC watch, Werk 04.110, was specially developed for the model and is Porsche Design’s second in-house movement.
“The whole thing follows lightweight construction principles, using a lightweight titanium housing,” Novak said. He added that the watch is waterproof, meaning it can be operated underwater. “We took a German engineering mindset and we transferred it to Switzerland.”