As you probably gleaned from any of the special releases during the past half-century, automotive themed watches are nothing new. Neither are a low-production batch of watches designed to complement some ultra-high-end sports car or luxury sled, usually tailored to the aforementioned special edition car’s mono-spec color, trim, and edition nameplate. Elsewhere, watchmakers will tether a portion of their lineup to the release of a specific marque or vehicle family, much like Breitling and its Bentley collection.
What’s not common—or to our knowledge, ever offered before—is a watch you can configure endlessly to play matchy-matchy with your newest automotive acquisition. The aesthetics obsessives over at Porsche Design have done just that with the company’s latest horological creation. With a new online configurator, interested parties can outfit a new Porsche Design Chronotimer 1 in a stunning 1.5 million permutations, all in the pursuit of matching wrist with road (car).
As we mentioned, the basis for this new customization program is the Chronotimer 1, a clean mechanical chronograph that arguably forms the core of Porsche Design’s portfolio of watches. Through the configurator, you may customize the chronograph with a stunning array of options, ranging from case finish, chapter-ring color, bezel finish, bezel read-out, and strap type, color, and finish. Most (if not all) colors available on the Porsche 911 and 718 variants are available to accent the watch, extending to strap stitching that is shared between the automotive production line and the watch.
One of the coolest bits of the custom Chronotimer 1 program is the rotor for the automatic movement. For those of you who aren’t horologically inclined, there are two primary types of mechanical watch movements: Hand-wound movements are exactly as they sound; the mainspring that powers the watch relies on the wearer to physically wind the crown every 48 hours or so. An automatic movement is the same concept but adds a weighted rotor on a pivot leading to the mainspring; it spins with kinetic energy generated by the regular motion of your wrist during day-to-day activities, essentially keeping the watch perpetually wound—provided you never take it off.
Usually, these watch rotors are semi-circle blades that carry decorative finishing and sometimes the watchmaker’s logo or crest. On the custom Chronotimer 1, the rotor is a full circle in the shape and design of Porsche wheels. Yes, that includes every single wheel design now offered on a new Porsche 911 or 718 Boxster/Cayman.
While this level of individualization may be commonplace for high-end automotive manufacturers, it is nearly unheard of in the watch space. Most top-tier watch brands have in-house manufacturing of both the movement and the case, but there are many parts that are simply not economical to produce, so the makers rely on a wide supplier network. As you’d imagine, having an inventory of ultra-low production componentry on-hand is both expensive and often a waste, so mainstream watches primarily stick to offering a few colorways or strap variants.
Porsche Design worked hard to make this customization accessible, and says once the design order is placed, the build takes only eight- to 12-weeks. Each watch build receives a unique serial number—or VIN, as we affectionately call it—and is managed by any Porsche dealer. This means you can choose to have your new watch delivered in conjunction with your new 911, if you so desire, but note that you don’t have to own a Porsche at all to purchase one of the watches.
If this sounds fine and dandy, be prepared to cough-up between $6,000 and a maximum of $12,500, depending on what options you slathered over your new Porsche Design watch. The configurator is live as of now, though it’s unfortunately only available in German at the moment. Get creative with Google Translate, and you can expect U.S. availability sometime in early September.
Hey, you’re still here! Hungry for more watches? Regardless if Porsche Design’s watch aesthetic is a bit too demure for your tastes, or the price a bit too dear, we have you covered. Here are three more recent-ish watches that should appeal to the tastes and account balances of a wide range of folk.
Gorilla Fastback Drift Mirage Wandering Hours, $3,750
Quite a complex name for quite a complex watch. We haven’t talked about Gorilla Watches here at Automobile yet, and this latest release seems like the perfect place to start. The bold and colorful watches from Gorilla source their visual one-two suckerpunch from American muscle cars, so it’s no surprise the latest release takes inspiration from the blue-and-orange Gulf livery that graced the Ford GT40 at Le Mans in the late 1960s. With a sizable 44-millimeter carbon-composite case and a vibrant, chunky design, the Gorilla Fastback Drift might not be for everyone, but we have a feeling it will resonate with someone.
Mido Ocean Star Decompression Timer 1961, $1,250
Another mouthful, another colorful watch. This rainbow-ified Mido Ocean Star is a modern interpretation/semi-rerelease of Mido’s cult-classic. As you can see from the dial design, the multicolored display isn’t for decoration, and instead gives deep-water divers an analogue way to track decompression time required to avoid contracting the bends.
It might look like something you would wear with casual clothing, but the uni-directonal bezel, screw-down crown, and 200-meter water resistance means you can genuinely wear this conversation piece as you survey a reef off of your local coastline.
Timex MK1 Mechanical, $185
For watch nerds who consider an inexpensive watch as something that stickers for less than $300, we didn’t forget about you. Aside from the new Seiko 5 Sports that we covered recently, the latest and greatest in affordable enthusiast watches is the handsome Timex MK1 Mechanical. In return for $185, Timex pulls one of its classic military field watch designs from the archives and modernizes, well, not much. It retains the 36-millimeter case proportion and simple, unadorned, no-nonsense dial design, and tops it off with a hand-wound mechanical movement. It’s currently out of stock, but Timex says another batch should arrive soon.