To celebrate its fiftieth anniversary, Porsche Design—an independent industrial design consultancy and brand—has teamed up with its vintage vehicle cousin, Porsche Classic, to restore a 1972 Porsche 911 Targa. A factory-restored vintage 911 would be cool enough on its own, but this one has the additional lure (or ignominy) of having been rejuvenated to resemble a special wristwatch.
Founded by Ferdinand Alexander “Butzi” Porsche—the original designer of the 911, and grandson of company founder and imprisoned Nazi war criminal Ferdinand Porsche—Porsche Design was meant to bring the German marque’s monomaniacal engineering and minimalist aesthetics to other product categories. The first commission came from the automotive company itself, to create a premium timepiece that could be gifted to deserving employees and clients.
The result was the Chronograph 1, the world’s first watch with an all-black matte case and dial. Inspired by Porsche’s signature non-reflecting dashboard gauges, the design flowed from Butzi’s stated desire to “create a watch to match the car.” Porsche Classic and Porsche Design have taken that instruction quite literally, sourcing a red 1972 911 T and converting it to matte-black spec, just like the Chronograph 1.
The donor car for this process was quite tatty when it was located. “We had rust, and a lot of corrosion on the body. And the engine wasn’t running, or the gearbox,” said Uwe Makrutzki, manager of factory restorations at Porsche Classic, who oversaw the process. Worse, it had suffered notable physical molestations during the Me Decade. “This was one very funny thing which was modified,” Makrutzki said. “In the 80s, whale tail spoilers were very fashionable, and so a lot of customers, like this one, changed this to make their cars become more ‘sporty’ looking.”
Fortunately, Porsche Classic is skilled at cetacean amputation. Even more fortunate, it has excellent parts availability for restoring these cars. “90 percent of the new parts were available,” said Makrutzki.
Particularly deviling, however, was locating the proper camshaft housing, as the car was also to be upgraded to a hotted-up 2.4-liter “S” spec during the rehab process. After some searching, one was located, as new old stock from a dealer in the special procurement network. “This was not challenging,” Makrutzki said. “It just takes time, so we just have to be patient.”
Happily, owners of classic Porsche 911 Targas will reap benefits from this process. “Prior to this project, the replacement Targa top we had in stock was only just close in texture to the original surface from 1972,” Makrutzki said. “So we took this opportunity to rebuild the material in exactly the surface and specification from 1972. And we got it.” That new manufactured piece will now be available for purchase via Porsche Classic.
In honor of the 50th anniversary of Porsche Design, an updated iteration of the Chronograph 1 was also created. “We kept the watch design entirely true to the 1972 original, including the brand’s old historical logo on the dial and crown,” said Roland Heiler, chief design officer of the Porsche Lifestyle Group. However, the company changed the case material from steel to titanium, for enhanced light-weighting and durability, and updated the works with modern mechanicals.
The only other significant update appears on the rear. The rotor—the device that transforms the wearer’s motion into winding energy—now hosts a shape that will be familiar to any fan of vintage 911s. “It mirrors the original Fuchs wheels of the sports car,” Heiler said.
Both the restored car and the special watch will be sold at auction by RM Sotheby’s today, November 7. Since the car has non-original engine and transmission, another numerical correspondence has been created to service high-end collectors’ obsession with matching numbers. Heiler said, “The timepiece features the car’s unique VIN on the case-back.”
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