Despite sharing a name, Porsche Design and Porsche Motorsports haven't always enjoyed a harmonious existence. While the latter is well known on a global scale as an automobile innovator, the former is often misconstrued as merely a company producing products like hats, keychains and jackets bearing the German brand's name.
Simply put, not many people understand that Porsche Design is equally groundbreaking - especially in the world of watchmaking.
A list of firsts for Porsche Design read like a playbook for effortless style and cool; the first entirely matte black wristwatch, the first watch with an integrated compass, the first chronograph made entirely from titanium, and the first watch with mechanical-digital display.
The precedent has been clearly set. Innovation is in Porsche Design's DNA. But what's particularly apropos about their new titanium chronograph, the Monobloc Actuator - which debuted this morning at Baselworld - is that the brand synergy between Porsche Design and Porsche Motorsports is finally on full display for all to see.
The source of inspiration for the Monobloc Actuator is the functionality of the high-RPM mechanical valve control of the new Porsche 911 RSR which placed second in its inaugural race at the 24 Hours of Daytona in Florida in February.
“That was an incredible race and a great debut for our new 911 RSR. We were only two seconds off victory after 24 hours, but that doesn’t matter in this case," said Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser, Head of Porsche Motorsport. "It was an extremely tough race, a fantastic fight for victory. Despite the bad weather conditions, the fans were treated to everything that makes racing so exciting."
Although an auto race may seem like an unlikely bedfellow when it comes unofficially debuting a watch to the press, the same innovation and forward thinking that literally went into propelling the Porsche 911 RSR across the finish line has been harnessed inside the titanium case on the Monobloc Actuator.
A small "rocker arm" on the watch hides the chronograph's crowns and mimics the 911 RSR's force transmission via camshaft. Each time the device is activated, the rocker “dips” into the watch’s case and swings across the sapphire crystal which undergoes seven successive anti-reflective treatments.
The origins of the Monobloc Actuator began in 2013 when designers asked themselves, "Would it be possible to make the operating buttons disappear entirely?" as opposed to the tractional two push-pieces located on the flank of the case above and below the crown which often leads to malfunction caused from shock and other environmental influences.
To transform this idea into reality, the engineers turned to their colleagues at Porsche Motorsports in Weissach, Baden-Württemberg to help achieve a first-of-its-kind, single pressure-operated, doubly borne rocker switch, which is integrated into the case on the right-hand side of the entire mechanism.
Additional automobile attributes on the Monobloc Actuator include specially manufactured high-performance insulators on the tappets that assure perfect insulation toward the interior of the movement and mimics the combustion chamber in a race car’s engine. And thanks to its hermetic seal, the chronograph control can be operated underwater.
The collection includes the GMT-Chronotimer which comes in a 45.5 millimeter titanium case and is available with a matte black or a deep blue sunburst-dial and rubber strap or an all-titanium bracelet, and the 24H-Chronotimer which features an innovative black titanium-carbide coating over its titanium case, a matte black dial, checkered-flag-design function indicator at “9 o’clock,” and a rubber strap with deployment buckle.
The new Monobloc Actuator Collection will be available in Porsche Design stores and select wholesalers starting in May 2017. Prices range from approximately $6,350 to $6,850.