July 22, 2017
by Ariel Adams
Porsche Design quietly announced a smartwatch that they designed for electronics manufacturer Huawei – in the simply named “Porsche Design Huawei Smartwatch.” This follows a rather mature tradition of the design company working with third-party electronics manufacturers to produce higher-end “designer” versions of otherwise more mainstream products. For years the most “elite” versions of a Blackberry phone were the various models with exterior cases designed and sold through Porsche Design.
As Blackberry’s importance in the mobile technology industry has waned significantly, Porsche Design moved to work with Huawei. Also available (and I am sure intended as a companion to the Porsche Design Huawei Smartwatch) is the Porsche Design Huawei Mate 9 smartphone. Interestingly enough, the phone costs more than the watch, which is uncommon when it comes to “luxury smartwatches” these days. More and more luxury brands are entering the smartwatch space – recently Louis Vuitton entered the market with the Louis Vuitton Tambour Horizon that costs more than double the price of the Porsche Design Huawei Smartwatch.
Porsche Design also makes a dedicated collection of traditional mechanical watches, which are luxury items totally distinct from the Smartwatch. With that said, the Porsche Design Huawei Smartwatch looks more like other Porsche Design timepieces than it does the Huawei Watch – which is the base product that this higher-end model is designed after – likely sharing the same internal hardware. The device runs Android Wear 2.0, has 512MB of internal memory and 4GB of RAM.
Unlike some of the other luxury smartwatches available, the Porsche Design Smartwatch inherits the attractive variety of sensors that are used in the stock Huawei smartwatches. This includes the many expected sensors (compass, accelerometer, etc.) but also welcome extras such as GPS, a barometer, and a heart-rate sensor. This latter option is particularly welcome as most of the luxury smartwatches (aside from the Apple Watch) for the most part do not have heart-rate sensors included.
Porsche Design does not offer the case width but I am guessing it is about 44mm wide. The case is still DLC-coated in black, which should offer a good level of scratch resistance. It isn’t clear what the screen material is – but ideally it should be sapphire crystal. The overall design is clearly racing inspired and feels a lot more like a typical Porsche Design timepiece than a Huawei product – which is probably a good thing for the typical Porsche Design customer. The black case is matched to an attractive strap which has a natural rubber lining with a soft leather exterior.
It is important to also mention that the bezel of the case – which the signature Porsche Design tachymeter scale (that you’ll never actually use), is in black ceramic, which furthers adds durability to the case. From a design and materials standpoint, this watch case is much more like traditional high-end watches than it is like most smartwatch cases.
Porsche Design also includes their own serving of exclusive watch faces – several of which predictably mimic the design of the traditional analog watch dials the brand currently produces. Companies like Porsche Design probably still don’t totally understand the smartwatch market and consumer (in earnest, few companies do) so their approach here is to make the smartwatch look like their traditional mechanical watches. No problem with that but I think as the category matures in the future, we will see more designs which are both modern, and take into consideration the distinctive nature of a smartwatch as opposed to trying to dress it up like a traditional watch. We will wait and see how the design community adopts to the ever-evolving smartwatch product universe.
Porsche Design does not officially sell the Porsche Design Hauwei Smartwatch in all markets – such as the US. Right now it is only “officially” for sale in Europe and the UK. If you want one, then visit those regions or simply use the internet. Price for the Porsche Design Huawei Mate 9 smartphone is €1,395, while the Porsche Design Huawei Smartwatch costs €795. porsche-design.com