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Porsche Design

Form and function in perfect harmony
The Pilot Watch Magazine
Porsche Design
16 May 2024

Unique symbiosis of intelligent function and excellent design

On closer inspection, the history of the famous Porsche Pilot’s Watches goes back as far as 1963, when Professor Ferdinand Alexander Porsche creates one of the most significant design objects in modern history with the Porsche 911. With his vision of taking the principles and myth of Porsche beyond the boundaries of the automobile, Porsche founded the exclusive lifestyle brand Porsche Design in 1972, whose philosophy and design language live on in all Porsche Design products to this day.

Ferdinand Alexander Porsche saw the light of day on December 11, 1935, as the grandson of company founder Ferdinand Porsche in Stuttgart, the capital of Baden-Württemberg. Already as a child, he and his three younger brothers spent a lot of time in his grandfather’s design offices and development facilities. in 1943, the family settled in Austria and Ferdinand Alexander went to school in Zell am See.

When you think about the function of a thing, the form sometimes emerges as if by itself.

Professor Ferdinand Alexander Porsche

From the automobile to the luxury watch

After the Porsches returned to their native Stuttgart in the late 1940s, Ferdinand Alexander’s father Ferry Porsche formed the legendary sports car manufacturer Porsche from his grandfather’s design office. Ferdinand Alexander himself joins the family business as a designer in 1958. His first major challenge was the design of what would later become the Porsche 911, which particularly sharpened the young industrial designer’s sense for precise technology and innovative materials.

At the beginning of the 1970s, the company undergoes a transformation. Porsche becomes a stock corporation, and the family members withdraw from the operational business. Ferdinand Alexander Porsche moves to the supervisory board and gives up his position as chief designer. In 1972, driven more by the creative urge than by a profitable business idea, he founds Porsche Design, an in-house design forge, in Stuttgart.

The impetus for the development of a Porsche watch came from within the company itself. In search of a suitable gift for anniversaries, the sports car manufacturer places its first order with Porsche Design with a guaranteed purchase of 20 luxury watches per year. Ferdinand Alexander Porsche and his small team personally take care of the order-as well as all the other things that interest him besides cars and watches: Glasses, pipes, writing instruments.

From the road to the cockpit

Porsche’s first timepiece from 1972 was already convincing across the board. A radical reinterpretation of a watch, the multi-award-winning Chronograph 1 combines all the elements of the Porsche Design founder’s design idea that still exists today: functionality and durability through a reduced formal language. Incidentally, the Chronograph 1, which was initially mass-produced by the Swiss watchmaker Orfina, is considered to be the first watch available on the market with a black PVD coating – a process in which metallic surfaces are provided with an ultra-thin crystalline layer and a revolutionary finishing method in the early 1970s.

Top Gun Pilot Watch – The Porsche Design Chronograph 1
Porsche Design / Chronograph 1 – All Black Numbered Edition
Porsche Design
Porsche Design / Chronograph 1 – All Black Numbered Edition

Intended as an elegant accessory for Porsche drivers, however, the luxury watch would achieve fame a few years later not on the wrist of a racing driver, but as the pilot’s watch of a jet pilot. In 1986, action star Tom Cruise wore the legendary Porsche Design chronograph as LT Pete Maverick Mitchell in the acclaimed blockbuster Top Gun. And how could it be otherwise, a black Porsche Design chronograph is once again on the wrist of Air Force fighter pilot Maverick in the remake of the hit movie in 2022.

Top Gun Maverick / Tom Cruise / Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures
Tom Cruise / Top Gun Maverick / Paramount Pictures

Certified timepieces

Today, the various model series of exclusive Porsche Design timepieces are designed in Zell am See, Austria, and manufactured in Switzerland in strictly limited editions under the highest quality standards. The materials used are carefully tested and selected to ensure the high quality of each chronometer. This results in high-precision COSC-certified automatic timepieces that bring the unique Porsche feeling to their wearer’s wrist every second.

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