Porsche Design: sometimes product design is a bit like music

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Some friends of mine have been on record labels over the years recording with traditional bands or dance music. All of them have talked about the second album as a big challenge. The bar has been set and you have spent all your original great ideas. Product design is similar, tastes and requirements move on making it very hard for lightning to strike twice.

Apple has done really well at this, though there have been some false starts. Porsche Design have revisited the territory of dive watches: an product they last designed a quarter of a century ago. The Porsche Design | IWC Ocean 2000 is a classic dive watch. The restrictions of working with titanium were a catalyst for great design. A simple strap made up of identical shards of titanium and a rounded case cast to minimise stress also meant that the watch was comfortable to wear and had a simple aesthetic. There was no need for a complex helium release valve  on the case despite a ridiculous water resistance up to a depth of 2,000 metres. This simplicity also meant that the time-elapse information was unambiguous and easy to read.

They are still a sort after item amongst those in the know.  Hans Zbinden has got some great pictures of the Ocean 2000 in his article Titanium Sisters over at Timezone.com and Su Jia Xian’s article at Watchprosite is also really good.

Which brings me to the Porsche Design P’6780 Diver. As its Porsche’s second go at a dive watch expectations could be pretty high. Like its predecessor the watch has an ETA movement and doesn’t require a helium release valve, but that’s were the comparison really ends. Where the Ocean 2000 had simplicity of design the P’6780 has a complexity that reminded me of the current vogue for ‘steampunk‘and Rube Goldberg designs exemplified by Graham. The watch sits in a titanium bracket which protects the crown and holds the watch on the wrist. The case itself is a sizeable chunk of stainless steel. A far cry from the elegant titanium pebble design of the previous case.

The display on the watch owes a lot to the IWC Aquatimer watches of the 60s with a display and time elapse brezel under the glass. The black, yellow and white dial colour way is pure IWC too. In terms of the technical specifications (or willy waving) the new design is only water resistant to 1,000 metres: half the depth of the Ocean 2000 and 220 metres behind Rolex’s basic Sea-Dweller model.

For watch enthusiasts the P’6780 is the horological equivalent of the difficult and ultimately forgettable second album however I am sure that it will find a niche with the ostentatious luxury consumer.  You can find out more about the P’6780 over at Sub5zero.com.