Introducing the Porsche Design Chronograph 718 Spyder RS
Half a decade on from the debut of its WERK 01.200 caliber (created in partnership with Concepto), Porsche Design Studio releases a new, highly exclusive Chronograph, the 718 Spyder RS, available only to owners of the car of the same name…
Founded in 1972 by Ferdinand Alexander “Butzi” Porsche, Porsche Design Studio was established in the wake of a striking decision made by Butzi’s father, Ferry Porsche, to remove all Porsche family members from operational positions within the company, due to his fear that in-fighting and contrasting visions would tear his father’s company.
Butzi, the man behind the now iconic 911, entered the design world with a fearsome pedigree in tow. Expectations were high, but, as it happened, there was no need for concern. Porsche Design Studio’s first model — a blacked-out, dashboard-inspired chronograph — passed the eye test. Key to the studio’s continued success, however, would be the engines driving the handsome displays.
Initially, the studio’s debut model, the aptly named Chronograph 1, used the Valjoux (and later ETA) 7750. When 7750 productions ceased, Porsche switched over to Lemania as a supplier. However, Porsche Design Studio was always searching to improve the mechanics of its watches. This led to a 1978 partnership with IWC, and, later, the purchase of Eterna in 1995.
Then, in 2018, following the sale of Eterna, Porsche Design Studio began working with Swiss movement specialist Concepto (a maker within our industry renowned for its modificatory work on the 7750 base caliber). The result? WERK 01.200: a highly stylized, mostly blacked-out chronometer-certified cam-controlled chronograph caliber with a date, a flyback function, a 28,800vph (4Hz) operating frequency, and a robust enough 48-hour power reserve.
The Porsche Design Chronograph 718 Spyder RS is a highly customizable novelty available exclusively to purchasers of the Porsche 718 RS (with or without the “Weissach” optional add-on), with prices starting at $8,800. I experimented with the configurator and selected the most expensive options I could find. The result was a ticket price of $13,300, which included the black case coating, a titanium bracelet to match, a carbon dial, a custom-colored dial ring (available in an eye-watering 124 color options), an adjustable clasp, and a spare strap with contrast stitching.
Impressive as the numbers are, some may find that level of customization excessive, especially for a design studio whose responsibility it could be argued is to lead the narrative rather than respond so passively to it. These days, however, an obsession with individualization is hardly uncommon.
To Porsche Design Studio’s credit, the configurator is quick, responsive, and provides a decent visualization of the finished product. Beware, however, of the case back perspective, which makes it look like the rotor (which can either match the wheel spoke pattern of the 718 Spyder RS or Weissach RS package) is sitting on the case back itself rather than beneath the case back crystal. This weird optical illusion is exacerbated by the fact the black “tyre” around the wheel spokes is also part of the rotor and not a second surrounding ring of the case back. Thus, that whole central rotor matrix (spokes and tire), sits beneath a gasketed crystal that sits within the outer black ring of the case back (also in titanium).
Here’s a video that, at 33 seconds, gives a better perspective of the rotor in operation:
As aesthetically palatable as the basis of this chronograph is, there is an enigma in the availability of this watch. Firstly, having to buy a car (which, by the way, has a starting price tag of around USD160,000). I get the element of extreme exclusivity here, but, ironically, I think that is totally undermined by the customizability of this piece. There are well over 100 options when you include the color choices for the dial ring, the leather strap stitching options, and everything else, amounting to literally thousands upon thousands of combinations…
Actually, I sat down and tried to work out the true number of combinations excluding the obviously infinite number of engravings. I stopped when my calculations breezed past 4.5 million and my brain threatened to melt. Needless to say, by this point, I found myself wondering who was designing the watch: the design studio or the buyer?
I’m not against customization. There is absolutely a place for it in our industry. The client/maker relationship has been of exceptional importance to the craft for centuries, and, in the case of hand-made, artisanal products of extreme emotional significance, I’m all for it.
Here, however, as much as I think the watch is aesthetically and technically sufficient, the myriad of options was overwhelming. Yes, we watch collectors are in pursuit of perfection, which, of course, leads us to gripe and moan about every less-than-perfect detail. And yet, there is a beauty to this dissatisfaction. We, as lovers of this industry and its fascinating output, should be wowed by rather than involved in the design process of what amounts to a product much more than object d’art.
To me this is an aspirational and an extremely niche piece. If you are in market for 718 Spyder or have it on order, this is the perfect time to custom build the matching chronograph. I suspect it will be far more significant to the automotive community and treated as a passing curio rather than the classic it might have been.
Porsche Design Studio Chronograph 718 Spyder RS
Movement: WERK 01.200
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date, chronograph, flyback
Case: 42mm x 14.6mm titanium (coated or uncoated), water resistant to 50m
Dial: Black painted or carbon
Strap: Titanium bracelet (coated or uncoated) or leather strap (with optional contrast stitching)
Price: (from) USD 8,800
Availability: Available only to buyers of the 718 Spyder RS or the Weissach RS
|Movement||Self-winding caliber A-500; 60 hours power reserve|
|Functions||Hours, minutes, small seconds, chronograph and date|
|Case||42.5mm; titanium; water resistant to 30m|
|Dial||Salmon (6N gold plated) with gené or frosted area; Super-LumiNova filled Arabic numerals|
|Strap||Ballistic gray rubber; titanium folding clasp|