September 8, 2014
by Ariel Adams
The Porsche Design P’6780 Diver watch is a fantastic timepiece for those able to appreciate what it does and where it came from. For everyone else, it will be just another pretty, albeit strange diving watch with a popular name on the dial. While I believe there are still plenty of Porsche Design P’6780 Diver watches out there, I am unclear about the future of this model, since recently Porsche Design severed ties with their former production partner Eterna. That is important because essentially, the Porsche Design P’6780 Diver began life as a cool Eterna watch that not enough people could wrap their minds around.
Porsche Design released the P’6780 Diver watch in 2010, though watch lovers recognized the case and much of the design from a watch that Eterna released in 2008 called the KonTiki Diver. How the watches are related is interesting, actually. Eterna designed the highly ambitious KonTiki Diver as testament to what the brand was all about. With a unique yet useful design, the 1000 meter water resistant KonTiki Diver was used to help return Eterna to the US market. A watch lover’s dream, the only problem with the Eterna KonTiki Diver was that it was a marketing bomb.
Essentially, the Eterna KonTiki Diver has two issues: the name on the dial and the price. Never mind how interesting or high quality the case and construction were, Eterna was (and to a degree still is) a rather obscure brand and the KonTiki Diver was priced rather high, at over $10,000. There are still some of these watches out there, and I think that for the price they are a bargain for the awesome design that you get. Eterna didn’t want to give up on the KonTiki Diver, since the design was just so cool – and I agree of course that it was. So what happened?
Well, I don’t know all the details, but it doesn’t take a lot of questioning to consider how the Eterna watch became a Porsche Design product, given that Eterna was the production partner for Porsche Design timepieces during that time. Porsche Design clearly saw the appeal of the design and decided to transform the Eterna KonTiki Diver into the Porsche Design P’6780 Diver watch. It originally came out in naked titanium with yellow accents, but was also available with red accents, and as this black-cased steel model with blue accents. Today, the Porsche Design P’6780 Diver watch remains quite rare.
I had this Porsche Design P’6780 Diver watch for quite some time before reviewing it, and frankly, I needed to let it grow on me a bit. At first, I wasn’t sure what to make of it, given its rather bulky size and the fact that I so wanted it to be the Eterna. Having said that, I think the time between getting it and actually writing the review was a positive. Why? Well, one reason is that I was able to compare it with so many other large dive watches I reviewed. In the end, the Porsche Design P’6780 Diver fared extremely well, and I gave it a lot of points for being so unique but not at all gimmicky.
This PVD-black version of the Diver is in steel, but other versions are in titanium. The case is just under 47mm wide and quite long given the design of the case. It is also 17mm thick. The case is amazingly unique and wonderfully designed for what it is. The case has an inner section that pops up securely as you press two buttons on the side of the case. Popping the watch up not only is a neat trick, but is also what unlocks the rotating diver’s bezel. And what a bezel it is. Not only does turning the outer bezel move the inner bezel (all on a watch with 1000 meters of water resistance), but the sound it makes is fantastic. You can hear it in the review video, actually.
The case uses some special screws and has articulating lugs, which help the sheer mass of the case fit securely on a range of wrist sizes. It is quite rare for a watch design to be so focused on being large, but also wearable. With a properly-sized strap, the Porsche Design P’6780 Diver wears extremely comfortably. Changes to the case from the Eterna to the Porsche Design are evident, but minor. Most of the changes to the watch from the prior Eterna version are on the dial – though it is not just a matter of a re-badged watch – the Porsche Design piece is very much a Porsche Design watch that simply borrows from an incredible design that didn’t work for Eterna.
The Porsche Design P’6780 Diver dial is deep with the rehaut-style internal rotating bezel that steeply slopes down to the main dial. Here, you see something much more simple compared to the KonTiki Diver. The dial features applied polished and lume-filled hour markers, along with legible diver’s style hands. Just to be unique, the date window is placed at 9 o’clock along another inset horizontal line which is part of the dial design. In theory, I am not sure what I would imagine a Porsche Design dive watch to be, but this certainly fits the bill and the brand’s distinctive DNA.
One of the features I really miss from the Eterna KonTiki Diver that is missing in the Porsche Design P’6780 Diver is a power reserve indicator on the dial. I not only happen to be fond of automatic watches with power reserve indicators, but also love them on diver watches. Since you are going full on with the diving fantasy when you wear a watch like this, it is worth considering that underwater, you need your watch to operate and can’t really afford to let it run out. Also, it isn’t going to automatically wind as much there as it would while you are on land given fewer and slower arm movements.
Thus, a power reserve indicator on a mechanical dive watch is a useful feature to have. Of course, you can just make sure your watch is wound before diving (and of course you’ll have your diving computer, which is what you’ll primarily use), but again, when spending this much on a so-called diving instrument watch, you want it to give you everything.
The side skeletonization of the case is neat to look, at and I love the fact that when the inner case is popped, it locks into position. It feels like you are wearing some type of compass as a watch on your wrist. Again, is it strictly useful? Probably not, but it is incredibly well-engineered and great for what it is – which is exactly what we want in our luxury watch toys. I still wonder how much better this watch did as a Porsche Design versus Eterna watch. It speaks so much to the power of marketing in the watch industry that truly inspired timepieces can fail because the “wrong” brand released them.
Attached to the Porsche Design P’6780 Diver watch is a high-end caoutchouc rubber strap, which has been specially designed to match the case. The strap is very thick and feels secure. It is attached to a butterfly-style deployant clasp that actually has a separate section which can optionally open up as a diver’s extension. It is a unique execution of a diver’s extension and something I haven’t personally seen elsewhere in quite this style.