HANDS-ON: The Porsche Design Chronograph 1 – 911 Dakar introduces a new material to watchmakingFergus Nash
There’s an old adage in motorsport that to finish first, first you have to finish. In no event is that truer than the Dakar Rally — a gruelling drive through desert dunes and scorching heat. An average of 62% participants don’t make it to the end of the rally, with amateurs and professionals alike succumbing to the harsh conditions even in purpose-built machines. Although the event hasn’t actually travelled to Dakar in Senegal for years, the spirit of the desert race is kept alive through the competitive drivers and manufacturers such as Porsche. The Porsche Design Chronograph 1 – 911 Dakar that was announced last year honours the storied event and introduces a new material to watchmaking.
Porsche Design’s Chronograph 1 has been legendary since its release in 1972, pioneering the use of PVD coatings for the first fully blacked-out watch. The case design is simple yet slightly ethereal, with gentle curves, slab sides and stout lugs that take straps neatly. For the Porsche Design Chronograph 1 – 911 Dakar, the brand have forged the case entirely out of titanium carbide. This material, formed by fusing titanium and carbon at high temperatures in a process called sintering, has typically been used in watchmaking to create scratch-proof coatings on other materials. Presented here in a solid form, the titanium carbide is both scratch-proof and even lighter than titanium as it is technically a ceramic. Working with it is extremely difficult, as the tooling has to be made from something even harder to not be worn out immediately.
Wearability is helped along by the short lugs, allowing the strap to do its job of conforming to the wrist. It’s quite a chunky watch at 42.7mm wide and 15.5mm thick, however thankfully its visual bulk doesn’t reflect its lightweight comfort. Providing you change the leather strap, the case is also pool-ready with water resistance of 100m. The dark case also gives it a sleek appearance, with a soft matte texture and a blacked-out crown and pushers.
The differences between the Chronograph 1 and the 911 Dakar version are mostly subtle, but each individual element comes together to create a racier picture. The sloping rehaut between the bezel and dial depicts minute markers rather than a tachymeter, the 60 numeral at 12 painted red to match the lollipop-weighted chronograph hand. The other red details denote the titanium carbide case as 1:30, and the flyback operation of the movement under the hours subdial at 6 o’clock.
The usual place for the Porsche Design logo above the date and day windows now depicts the 911 Dakar badge, and boasts chronometer certification beneath it. When selecting your options in the online configurator, you also have the choice between the standard 911 Dakar or the 911 Dakar Rallye Design Edition. The Dakar Rallye Design Edition uses a portion of the running seconds subdial at 9 o’clock to show a section of racing stripes, taken from the design of the Paris-Dakar race-winning Porsche 953 from 1984.
No racing watch is truly complete without a perforated leather strap, instantly putting your mind into race mode. Fitted with a quick-exchange system, the leather is black but backed with a contrasting colour that can be seen in the stitching and through the perforations. The 911 Dakar is paired with Shade Green, and the 911 Dakar Rallye Design Edition uses a vibrant Shark Blue. Completing the package is a black-coated titanium buckle that matches the pushers and caseback.
Another area of slight customisation, as well as the most obvious feature when you flip the watch over, is the winding rotor which keeps the watch wound automatically. Presented as a miniaturised wheel that matches the Porsche 911 Dakar car, the five-spoke design is available in black, white, or Vesuvius grey. Behind it is the calibre WERK 01.240, Porsche Design’s own variant on the Valjoux 7750 architecture. Fitted with a flyback complication, 4Hz beat rate and a 48-hour power reserve, these movements are both COSC-certified and individually tested by watchmakers before they get delivered.
The Porsche Design Chronometer 1 – 911 Dakar pricing and availability:
The Porsche Design Chronometer 1 – 911 Dakar and Rallye Design Edition are quite exclusive watches, being available only to owners of the cars of the same name. Only 2,500 units will be produced. Price: US$14,500
|Model||Chronometer 1 – 911 Dakar / Rallye Design Edition|
|Case Dimensions||42.7mm x 15.5mm|
|Case Material||Titanium carbide|
|Crystal(s)||Sapphire with anti-reflective coating|
|Strap||Perforated leather with green or blue accents|
|Power Reserve||48 hours|
|Availability||Limited to 2,500 pieces and restricted to owners of the Porsche 911 Dakar / Rallye Design cars|