Porsche Design INDICATOR™
Posted by wristwatch on October 4, 2007
The exceptional Porsche Design INDICATOR ™ owes everything to exceptional ideas and developments. Watchmakers, engineers and designers have created something entirely new, with a passion that’s reflected in the result. Indeed, never before has a mechanical chronograph had a digital display for its stop-watch functions. That is, not until the Porsche Design INDICATOR ™.
Eterna launches the idea
The idea to develop the Porsche Design super-chronograph was born as early as the end of 2000 by Eterna’s CEO Ernst F. Seyr in person. Seyr, an enthusiastic hobby pilot, had little use for commercially available mechanical chronographs, whose small totalisers are difficult to read at the best of times. In fact in situations involving stress, heavy vibrations or poor light conditions, small dials can even be outright dangerous.
In Ernst F. Seyr’s experience pilots rarely use wristwatch chronographs in such conditions. And yet that’s precisely when a chronograph could be put to good use, not to mention emergency situations such as the failure of vital cockpit instruments. Unfortunately the chronographs available at the time were simply not good enough to deal with these situations. This explains why genuine pilot’s watches are so large, why they have such large dials and are NOT mechanical chronographs. Many pilots opt for a hybrid watch (with LCD display), a solution that was simply not good enough for Seyr.
A milestone in mechanical watchmaking history
So it was only a small step to kicking off developments for a technological marvel. A watch that would provide its wearer with an at-a-glance chronograph function, without the need to decipher tiny secondary dials – and all of this with a purely mechanically design, naturally!
Professor F.A. Porsche, who in 1973 wrote watchmaking history with the design of the first black chronograph and who has owned Eterna SA since 1995, gave the go-ahead for the development of the INDICATOR ™. It was clear that such a watch simply did not exist at the time. So the question was: How do you go about realising such an unusual idea?
Seyr first of all commissioned the brilliant master watchmaker Paul Gerber, member of the Horological Academy of Independent Creators (AHCI), to conduct a feasibility study. To realise a project as vast as the INDICATOR ™ within a reasonable timeframe Eterna had to substantially expand existing capacities.
At the end of 2001 Eterna took charge of the further development work and the prototype construction. Almost a dozen experienced engineers, CNC technicians and watchmakers have since worked on the development, designs, prototypes and series migration.
After more than three years of development work we now proudly present the Porsche Design INDICATOR ™. This brilliant timekeeper combines the concentrated craftsmanship of Eterna with the distinctive lines of Porsche Design to produce a professional measurement instrument that will delight not just affluent sports enthusiasts but also connoisseurs of unique, mechanical complications.
Easy readability above all else
Besides the special INDICATOR ™ functions described below, the watch dial and hands are designed to guarantee clear, unambiguous readability at all times. All the hands are partly skeletonised and pigmented with Super-Luminova. This guarantees minimum obstruction of the three primary dials so the watch can be read clearly in both good and poor visibility conditions. The digits and indices are pigmented with colour-coordinated Super-Luminova, luminous paint. There are also plans to obtain type approval for a professional version using luminous paint, which would allow longer assignments in complete darkness, for instance when potholing or in other extreme situations.
The strikingly sporty designer piece is worn on a tough caoutchouc rubber strap. The inside of the black strap also features the tyre profile of the Carrera GT, a subtle and surprising detail borrowed from the world of motor racing. The tread grooves are not just a skilfully placed reference to the racing car, they also help to reduce sweat and increase wearer comfort. The strap itself is fastened by a sturdy dual-pin clasp.
While the conventional functions are driven essentially by the ETA/Valjoux-7750 calibre, the main plate and bridges had to be entirely redesigned. A conscious decision was made to dispense with a (simpler) modular construction as only an integral solution could provide a reasonable design height. Well over 400 newly developed components were fitted into the specially developed carriage parts. In total the complex chronograph now consists of more than 800 individual parts, skilfully assembled by the Eterna watchmakers into a marvel of mechanical precision.
With a plate diameter of 36 mm the impressive chronograph movement just about achieves the minimum dimensions required for a clearly readable arrangement of the digital display. It draws its force from four spring barrels. One spring barrel drives the watch movement. Three others, whose force is regulated by three centrifugal brakes, provide the powerful display mechanism of the digital chronograph functions. The dial discs are activated in just under two tenths of a second and can be reset in “motor-driven mode”. In other words the discs return to the zero position in a controlled action when the reset button is pressed.
Form follows function
The INDICATOR ™ is an absolute world innovation in the world of mechanical watches. And yet Porsche Design has remained true to its principles in that function dictates all other considerations. It is not just a matter of the watch’s outer styling but also of its functional design from within. Only complete and utter technological mastery can provide the freedom to optimise every conceivable opportunity for individual styling and unique colour and material design. An unambiguous and unmistakable display comes before all else.
In keeping with the design of the spectacular new Porsche Carrera GT, the styling of the INDICATOR ™ is all about power-packed speed, engines at full revs and an unwavering determination to succeed.
As befits the tradition – after all, Porsche Design watch cases were once the first to be made of titanium – the case of the INDICATOR ™ is also made of the same lightweight yet extremely tough material. Two versions are presented here – natural grey and black coated. The sturdy timepiece is water-resistant to a depth of 50 m, and boasts a sizeable diameter of 49 mm and a height of 18 mm. Visible button placements across vertically arranged special screws represent an integral part of the case.
Three primary functions
Stop function indication
The actual INDICATOR function – positioned at 3 o’clock on the dial – displays the stop hours from 0 to 9 and the single digit and tens positions for the stop minutes using mechanical-digital means via rotating discs while the stop seconds are measured by analogue means from the centre. This type of indication is unique and provides the patented basis for this watch idea. Once the maximum stop-function time of 9 hours and 59 minutes has elapsed an “out of service” symbol appears in the hour window – like the “flag–out” indication on a cockpit instrument that warns of a malfunction.
Power reserve indication
All the functions have a common power reserve indication, with a patent pending for its design. The power reserve indicates the remaining energy potential of all four spring barrels, which corresponds to the tension status of the four winding springs. With its colour-coded design this indication instantly displays the watch’s current power status.
Function control indication
In addition to all this, Porsche Design has also fitted a new type of function control for the basic calibre, which also achieves a balanced harmony on the dial itself. The small seconds, whose display is perceived as secondary and obstructive, is “demoted” to this measuring instrument. It has only one marker in the 60 seconds position, allowing the watch to be set with seconds accuracy. The function of the movement is checked second by second using an innovative “mechanically flashing” display. Three dial openings reveal a white & red segmented disc whose colour changes at second intervals in the three openings to indicate that the movement is running correctly. This new indication means that it is much quicker and straightforward to tell whether the watch is running.
A striking design inspired by the Porsche Carrera GT
Looking through the slightly curved 42 mm sapphire crystal is a spectacular experience. It’s obvious at a glance that the dial is well structured and arranged clearly. The three primary displays and the indices are uncluttered and striking. To prevent parallax errors the minute markings are printed onto the inside of the sapphire crystal rim. This is where the stop seconds hand moves, close to the crystal, high above the dial itself. Again this detail clearly shows the uncompromising dedication to readability.
As with the first Porsche Design titanium watch in the 1980s the chronograph buttons on the INDICATOR are modelled on elongated floor pedals, in this case those of the Carrera GT: Continuous cross grooves improve grip and a 2:1 lever ratio facilitates the operation of the stop function. Motor-racing fans will take great delight in these details of the INDICATOR. The screw-locked crown features 22 grooves and is 9 mm in diameter.
On the back of the watch case a six-screw sapphire crystal back reveals the outsized winding rotor, which is mass-optimised in keeping with the style of the new Porsche Design collection. This means that on the inside the rotor arm is of a complex titanium manufacture, for high strength and low mass, while on the outside it consists of solid red gold, a material capable of providing the energy required to wind the four spring barrels of the INDICATOR ™. Visually the rotor design is inspired by the wheel rim of the new Carrera GT.