Test Bench

Porche Design Indicator

The Watch Quote™ - October 23rd, 2004

The Watch Quote™ was invited to a surprise world première: the official introduction of the

Chronograph Indicator,
a fabulous instrument developed by Porsche Design and Eterna.

Porsche Design Indicator under the magnifying glass

Thanks to the arrival in Paris of Monsieur Ernst F. SEYR (president and Director General of Eterna SA) for the introduction of the brand new Porsche Design INDICATOR, we were among the first to test this revolutionary piece. The prototype of this entirely new chronograph was presented (without mechanism) at the last Basel salon. Now the Cote des Montres can try it out for you. First in line, on line, our exclusive Test Bench brings you this avant-première.

We tested the wristwatch in the very Italian design style setting of the new MURANO Hotel in Paris. Its movement is the most complicated ever designed for a production series, a world-first with no less than 800 pieces.

A short history

Professor F.A. Porsche
In 1973, Professor F.A. Porsche took his passion for mechanics to the extreme by developing a wristwatch inspired by the dashboard of the mythical 911. He created the first black chronograph ever sold, and surprised the watch making world by bringing unprecedented legibility to market. Thirty years after it first entered production, like his fetish racing car, the chronograph still looks up to the minute.

A worthy heir to the brand, the INDICATOR is mostly made of titanium, a reminder that Porsche Design was the first to sell watches entirely made of the light, extremely strong metal.


Above all else, the brand new INDICATOR’s character is assertive and exclusive; it’s a monster of technology and unique design.
From case to dial, bracelet included, its appearance has nothing in common with any other known watch. Every design detail was inspired directly by the brand’s legendary savoir-faire in automobiles, and it owes much to the new Porsche Carrera GT.

Indicator, or the outer sign of unprecedented design

The INDICATOR is world first in mechanical watches. Not a watch created with just its external appearance in mind, but the fruit of functional internal design. Their perfect mastery of the technique gave the in-house designers total freedom to explore every imaginable option of form, colour and material.

First turns of the wheel
At the end of 2000, Ernst F. SEYR, president and managing director of Eterna SA (owned by Porsche since 1995) suggested the idea of a super chronograph by Porsche Design/Eterna. As an amateur pilot fascinated by mechanics, the new head of the group knew how hard it can be to use a classic chronograph in real-life, and how stress, poor light or vibration can make them almost impossible to read.
The next step from there was to envisage the development of a real instrument that could be used as a chronometer at a glance without having to decipher minute auxiliary dials.
That’s where the INDICATOR came in. At the end of 2000, Porsche Design gave engineers the go-ahead for development, and entrusted a feasibility study of the INDICATOR project to the Master watchmaker Paul Gerber. A year later, a dozen engineers, technicians and watchmakers from Eterna undertook the development of the revolutionary chronograph’s first prototypes and limited series production. After three years of relentless effort, the first INDICATOR saw the light of day.

Perfectly legible in any circumstances
The finely studied detail of the dial and hands on the INDICATOR is designed for perfect legibility whatever the circumstances.
The semi-skeletal hands, coated in superluminova, obscure the main indicators as little as possible to give a precise reading, even in poor viewing conditions. The figures and hours are also coated in superluminova.

Design directly inspired by the Porsche Carrera GT
The slightly domed 42mm sapphire crystal, in built motion work, clear and simple dial structure, easy-to-handle elongated push buttons with transverse grooves in Porsche drive mechanism, and 9mm screwed down winding crown… all of the elements of the new Porsche design are reminiscent of the Carrera GT. On the back of the case, a sapphire crystal base secured by six magnificent screws lets you admire the winding crown’s splendid rotor in the form of a Carrera GT wheel rim. The titanium rotor wheel offers an excellent resistance/volume ratio, and the solid red gold exterior rotor supplies the requisite energy to the INDICATOR’S four spring drums.

The INDICATOR is fitted on a solid black rubber strap that has the Carrera GT’s Michelin tyre tread on its inner surface. Grooves on the strap’s outer surface help reduce perspiration and improve comfort and ease of wear. The strap is fastened with double tongue buckle, and finished with two elegant titanium loops.

Technical details

The caliber that drives the INDICATOR was developed from an ETA base. As well as a new main plate and house-manufactured bridges, it incorporates over 400 new components in the cage. A real mechanical masterpiece, it comprises almost 800 pieces in all.

This plate of this impressive movement is 36mm in diameter, which is the right vital dimension for good legibility of the digital display. Four spring drums provide it with energy. The first drives the basic movement. There are three others (whose force is controlled by three centrifugal brakes) for the display mechanisms’ chrono-digital functions. The indicator disks are commuted in two tenths of a second and returned to zero by an “engine drive.”
In other words, they are rest to zero the classic way, by a simple action on the lower push button.

Three primary functions:

[1] Chronograph indicator
Essential function of the INDICATOR, situated at 3 o’clock. Iindicated mechanically in digital mode by rotating disks (hours from zero to nine, in units and the ten minutes). Seconds count indicated in analog display from the centre.) After nine hours 59 minutes, like the flag-out warning for flight navigators, the “out of service “signal appears in the hour window.

[2] Power reserve indicator
The design of the common power reserve display for all functions is protected by a special patent. The INDICATOR’S power reserve shows how much residual power remains in the four spring drums relative to the state of activation of the four winding springs. The colour-coded display enables immediate reading of the watch’s power reserve.

[3] Functions control indicator
Porsche Design envisaged an innovative functional control with the basic caliber. The movement function is controlled second by second with a new “mechanical flash display. Three dial windows show a disk with red and white segments whose alternating colours indicate the movement is working as it should. With this new style of display, you can see immediately whether the instrument is ready to fulfill all functions.

The INDICATOR comes in two versions, natural grey titanium or titanium with black finish. The exterior measurements and complex mechanics of this monster of technology are frankly impressive: 49 mm diameter, 18mm thick, water resistant to 50 meters. Produced in very limited edition (a total of 50 worldwide) the INDICATOR is already an exceptional piece that only very few, very rich enthusiasts will ever have the chance of getting hold of. Even they will have to sign up to join the waiting list at one of the rare retailers Porsche Design has selected to represent their new watchmaking jewel.

Retail price: 78,000 € TTC

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The Watch Quote opinion

The new Porsche Design INDICATOR is an exceptional piece in every sense of the word.
Gigantic at first glance, its titanium structure and rubber strap make it very light and agreeable to the touch. Its imposing outline becomes almost natural when strapped to the wrist with the virile double tongue strap buckle. From then on, the size is less noticeable. The watch, on the other hand, becomes an object of contemplation. The simplicity of the dial, the subtleties of the counters and see-through hands are a real pleasure. A spectacle concentrated into 49mm diameter! A watch you immediately feel at ease with. A time-piece designed to go adventuring with you with absolutely no malfunction, in short, zero error equipment. Though maybe there’s just one small problem. To really appreciate the measure of the quality of the INDICATOR’S construction, you’d have to try out all its functions yourself, which would mean managing to find one on sale, and that of course is far from easy…
So good luck to you all, and look out for the next Cote des Montres test bench.

Strong points
  • Concept
  • Mechanism
  • Look

    Weak points
  • Limited edition

    Thierry Castagna / The Watch Quote™

  • Thierry Castagna / The Watch Quote™

    From Daytona
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