June 23, 2017
To coincide with the Le Mans 24-hour endurance car race this year, and in a continuation of its relationship as the official timing partner of the Porsche team, Chopard has launched the limited edition Chopard Superfast Power Control Porsche 919 HF Edition watch. Motorsport and limited edition watches are no new thing, but this particular Chopard watch stands out due to a brand new high-frequency automatic movement, as the HF part of the name references.
“High-frequency” in watches is a phrase essentially owned by quartz movements. As a rule of thumb, the higher the frequency, the more accurate the timekeeping possible and the smoother the sweep of the seconds hand – with some examples such as those from Bulova operating at 262kHz and offering an accuracy of a few seconds per year. But high-frequency is a relative term. In the world of mechanical watches, a frequency of 4Hz (28,800bph) or lower is most common. There are exceptions, of course, with Zenith’s 5Hz El Primero movements being the most famous. The new caliber 01.11-M from Chopard, however, pushes this envelope further by operating at 57,600bph or 8Hz.
This is impressive for two reasons. High-frequency movements are generally avoided because they can cause wear and tear significantly faster and also heavily tax the power reserve of the movement. In most modern mass-produced movements (think ETA 2824 or Valjoux 7750) 28,800bph was found to be the right balance between power reserve, rate of wear, and accuracy of timekeeping – the smoothness of the second hand’s sweep could be seen as an added benefit. The use of a silicon escapement suggests that wear and tear should be mitigated relative to a traditional escapement but it’s far too early to really know the answer to this question. What we do know is that Chopard has managed to address the power reserve issue with a very decent 60 hours of power reserve in the caliber 01.11-M.
The new movement is COSC-certified and will be visible through a sapphire crystal case back. The rotor and bridges are decorated in a dark gray color, with engravings in red and the bridges have parallel cutouts that enhance the sporty automotive theme. The sapphire crystal is laser etched with the Porsche Motorsport Team logo, while the inward sloping metal spacer ring (inevitable when you have a 28mm movement in a 45mm watch) has the words “SuperFast 919 8Hz” and “Classic Racing” etched into it.
One of the biggest obsessions in motorsports is lightweight, high-performance materials, and the Chopard Superfast Power Control Porsche 919 HF Edition has a DLC-coated and bead-blasted titanium case to fit with that theme. At 45mm wide by 12.4mm thick, this is not a small watch, but should wear significantly lighter and more comfortably thanks to the titanium. The case has some interesting design elements, like the front bezel which is screwed down with eight hex screws and the engraved stripes on the sides. While it’s not uncommon for cases made from materials like titanium and aluminum to have bezels that are screwed into place instead of pressed, it’s unusual to have the screws visible and on bold display. It does, however, enhance the rugged look that Chopard seems to be going for. The screw-down crown is made from rubber to presumably improve grip, with a metal steering wheel insert taking the place of the usual logo engraving.
Unlike the usual motorsport-themed chronographs, the only complications on the Chopard Superfast Power Control Porsche 919 HF Edition are a date wheel and power reserve indicator at 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock, respectively. If it’s not obvious already, the color scheme is black with red and white accents, and the dial is no different. The matte black dial is textured with applied hour markers, and at the edge of the dial is a sloping rehaut, similar to the spacer ring in the back, with hour markers engraved and white lacquered with a 0-60 theme – since it is a motorsport-related watch, after all. The hollowed out hands are laser-cut and rhodium plated with Super-LumiNova and fit well with the edgy, aggressive theme of the watch. The date wheel is thankfully black with white text, so it blends in well with the rest of watch and isn’t an eyesore. Even the power reserve indicator, while limited in utility on an automatic watch, is aesthetically well-integrated into the dial.
The 919 at the bottom of the dial is in reference to the car representing Porsche at this year’s Le Mans. The Porsche 919 is a hybrid supercar which will compete in the LMP1 category – a category that specifies very conservative weight and fuel restrictions among other things. It is an attempt at providing modern hybrid and electric vehicles a platform to compete in the endurance racing world.
The Chopard Superfast Power Control Porsche 919 HF Edition is not the first Porsche-related limited-edition watch from Chopard as they also have the Chopard Superfast Chronograph. That watch, however, does not have the new high-frequency movement, and it is this movement that I believe makes this watch so interesting and helps it stand out from all the other motorsport-inspired timepieces we’ve seen. The Chopard Superfast Power Control Porsche 919 HF Edition comes with a black rubber strap, is limited to 100 pieces, and is available exclusively from Chopard boutiques for $16,990. chopard.com