Black, as designers say, is timeless. Reinventing an existing sports watch with a black coating has become an easy way for brands to give a design a more modern, aggressive flair in the current watch market, but the “black watch” trend dates all the way back to 1972. Porsche Design was the first to create a black-coated design with its inaugural Chronograph 1, and to celebrate 50 years of both the foundational black chronograph and of the brand itself, Porsche Design returns to its roots with a pair of cleanly functional revivals of this seminal design. Both the Porsche Design Chronograph 1 – 1972 Limited Edition and the Porsche Design Chronograph 1 – 911 Edition 50Y Porsche Design maintain the stark, minimalist sporting look of their ‘70s forebear but add a handful of modern material improvements to keep this black design’s performance as timeless as its looks.
Both the Porsche Design Chronograph 1 -1972 Limited Edition and the Porsche Design Chronograph 1 – 911 Edition 50Y Porsche Design begin with a 40.8mm case in black carbide-coated titanium. The overall form is identical between the two models and follows the cleanly minimal matte blasted design of the ‘70s original closely. The main case body is elementally simple, with hooded lugs, sharp angles, and starkly vertical case sides. The raised smooth bezel gives this case a sense of verticality in images, adding a touch of embellishment to a design that might otherwise feel raw or unfinished. Like the original version, this is a deceptively thick design, as well, thanks to a deep caseback, with an overall thickness of 14.15mm. The simple design will likely do little to hide this bulk on the wrist, but as in fashion, black does tend to have a slimming effect. The first visual difference between the two models comes through the engraved crown at 3 o’clock. While the 1972 Limited Edition opts for the original ’70s-era rounded Porsche Design logo for this element, the 911 Edition 50Y Porsche Design instead uses the more squared-off modern emblem. The starkest difference between the two is in the casebacks, however. Once again, the 1972 Limited Edition takes the more period-correct route with a minimal engraved solid caseback in titanium, whereas the 911 Edition 50Y Porsche Design uses a sapphire display window to showcase its decorated movement. Both models offer a solid 100 meters of water resistance.
As with the cases, the dials of the Porsche Design Chronograph 1 – 1972 Limited Edition and the Porsche Design Chronograph 1 – 911 Edition 50Y Porsche Design closely follow the minimal, function-first design ethos that makes the 1972 original appear strikingly modern 50 years on. The 1972 Limited Edition is undoubtedly the cleaner, more faithful purist option of the pair, with a devotion to simplicity that allows the nuances of the dial design to take center stage. The outer tachymeter ring is broad and sharply sloped, with a light and minimal scale that offers a wealth of negative space in images. The matte-black dial surface itself is similarly minimal, with basic printed rectangular indices and mildly recessed subdials to increase the sense of visual depth at play. The only real extraneous detail to the design is the day/date display at 3 o’clock but, coupled with the original printed Porsche Design logo, this element neatly counterweights the subdials in images. The ultra-legible stick handset completes this utilitarian look, while the bright red of the central chronograph seconds hand immediately draws the eye for easy reading. By contrast, the minor alterations the 911 Edition 50Y Porsche Design makes to this formula give it a markedly busier character. Firstly, this model disrupts the cleanliness of the outer tachymeter ring with added “Tachymeter” text and adds vibrant red “Flyback” text to the 6 o’clock chronograph hours subdial. At 3 o’clock, this variant augments the modern-style printed Porsche Design emblem with low-contrast gray “Chronometer Certified” text. On a more complex design, these minor adjustments might fade into the background, but given the minimal and ruthlessly utilitarian base layout, these small changes add up to a major tone shift in images.
Porsche Design powers both versions of the Chronograph 1 with the newly introduced WERK 01.140 automatic chronograph movement. While the layout bears more than a passing resemblance to the Valjoux 7750 used in the ‘70s original model, the WERK 01.140 provides flyback capability and COSC-certified chronometer accuracy for far more robust performance. By contrast, the 48-hour power reserve and 28,800 bph beat rate are more standard fare. Decoration for the WERK 01.140 is playfully stylized, with an ornate winding rotor styled after a skeletonized Porsche Fuchs wheel and a mix of polished steel and matte-black finishes across the bridges. Porsche Design fits both the Chronograph 1 – 1972 Limited Edition and the Chronograph 1 – 911 Edition 50Y Porsche Design with H-link bracelets in black carbide-coated titanium but differentiates the two with markedly different endlink designs. As with the rest of its design, the 1972 Limited Edition follows the template of the ‘70s original more closely, with low-profile endlinks that hide almost completely beneath the hooded lugs in images. For the 911 Edition 50Y Porsche Design, the brand instead fits larger, rounded endlinks to the bracelet, which allow it to visually flow more naturally into the case in images.
With faithful reissue designs, durable modern materials, and a capable new movement, the Porsche Design Chronograph 1 – 1972 Limited Edition and the Porsche Design Chronograph 1 – 911 Edition 50Y Porsche Design offer timeless and fitting tributes to the very first black-coated watch. The Porsche Design Chronograph 1 – 1972 Limited Edition is limited to 500 examples and is available now through authorized dealers. MSRP for this model stands at $7,700 as of press time. As for the Porsche Design Chronograph 1 – 911 Edition 50Y Porsche Design, only 750 examples will be made, and the watch will be available exclusively to buyers of the new Porsche 911 Targa GTS Porsche Design 50th Anniversary Edition sports car. As such, MSRP information for this model is not available. For more details, visit the brand’s website.