Let’s be honest, it typically takes a hell of a lot more than a watch to stand out within the many high-zoot corners of the sprawling and stunning Monterey Car Week. The sea spray–soaked peninsula is virtually under siege during the days leading up to the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, invaded by some of the rarest, most valuable, and prettiest cars known to man.
But if you are the type that fancies a glance at the surrounding wrists as much as examining the competitive motoring machinery, events like Pebble and the Quail are worth the price of admission, as well. White-dial Rolex Daytonas flash in the afternoon sun with a frequency that staggers the imagination when one considers their post-retail pricing, and you can’t throw a stone without risking it tapping the gracefully curved crystal of some six-figure AP, Patek, or honking Hublot.
Gallery: Porsche Design Chronograph 1 911 S/T Edition
Considering that lofty context, I was pretty amazed when the Hodinkee nerds (said with love!) were, well, nerding out over the edition number of the Porsche Design Chronograph 1 911 S/T that I’ve borrowed from the brand for the weekend.
As you may have read, Porsche Design is limiting the chronograph to just 1963 examples, to match the 1963 examples of the 911 S/T automobile that Porsche will sell globally – you can’t buy the watch without buying the car. Knowing this, the sharp-eyed dudes from Hodinkee (who’d set up a rad collection of watches at the Range Rover House activation in Carmel Highlands) spotted that my watch wore the 0000/1963 edition number. It’s the prototype.
High-end watches, much like vintage vehicles, live and die on the smallest of details. Something like those four zeroes would make for a stunning collector's piece, naturally, but there’s plenty to dig into wherever one looks on this watch.
Perhaps the biggest surprise is how great the dial looks in natural light, relative to what I expected based on the photographs. The matte black face plays the perfect backdrop for the S/T’s signature green and red accents, which, in concert with the stark white and lumed hands and indices, make this piece recognizable from across the room.
The surprising bit is that, in the original marketing photos, the dial seemed overly busy. And the truth is there’s a lot packed on there. The 911 S/T logo and gear shift graphic have been stuffed onto a dial that already needs room for the three registers for small seconds, minutes, and hours, in addition to the day and date wheel, standard PD logo, and “Chronometer Certified” text. Under a loupe, it’s a lot to take in. But from the vantage point of my wrist, the strength of the white/green/red colorway largely overcomes the busyness of the rest.
I have exactly zero quibbles with the look, feel, and execution of the glass bead-blasted titanium case here, however. Many who’ve owned or seen a classic PD Chronograph 1 in the past will think of this model as an all-black-coated watch. The satiny and warm finish created with this raw titanium arrangement gives a totally different vibe: technical and the smallest bit flashy, with an undeniably high-end appearance.
This is a thick watch at just over 15 millimeters, with the PD caliber Werk 01.240 movement visible behind a custom rotor (shaped to look exactly like your own 911’s wheel… I don’t love it) by way of a sapphire caseback. But the overall case diameter of 41 mm, the feather light titanium construction, and the flat front crystal all make it sit quite comfortably on my 7.5-inch wrist.
I wore the piece all weekend – including with a cuffed shirt that didn’t hang up at all despite the watch’s thickness – on the cognac brown rally-style leather strap. If this were my watch to keep I’d likely opt for the full titanium bracelet most of the time, but I’ve got to say the leather was a killer look. The strap, made from the same materials and stitched with the same thread as you’ll find on your Porsche’s driver seat, was buttery soft, comfortable, and easy to slip on and off by way of an elegant titanium deployant clasp.
Better yet, the Porsche Design quick-release system for its straps and bracelets is utterly brilliant. I’m told this design made its debut back in 2019 on the PD Chronograph 911 Turbo S Exclusive, and I found it far and away the easiest system of its kind I’ve yet encountered. The big central release switch pulls the retaining pins in with a press of a button and snaps into place with a reassuring click after your change.
Similarly, the watch has amazing tactility in use. Those big pushers start, stop, and reset the chronograph with a satisfyinginly mechanical “thunk” and kind of make you feel like you’re getting your money’s worth – you’ll catch yourself using them superfluously just for the feel. The crown is easy to grab, with chunky, saw-like teeth around its perimeter, and it screws out and back down with just a few full rotations.
All of that detailing, and so much more, still wouldn’t entirely justify the retail price of $13,500. At least not in a fair fight. There are any number of stunning mechanical chronographs from Swiss brands of impeccable provenance that would give this PD1 a run for its money. But the point is moot, since the Chronography 1 911 S/T has a baked-in and no doubt enthusiastic audience in those that are buying the automobile. If you’re lucky enough to to get the call from your Porsche dealer to plunk down your $290,000 (base!) on an S/T, you’d be a fool to not toss in an extra thirteen grand for this lovely, numbers-matching timepiece.
After all, what’ll you wear to the Rennsport Reunion if you don’t grab the watch?