Retailers and media look at a dizzying array of watches at Baselworld, but are often asked to make a snap review on the best timepieces they have seen. The answer to this will depend very much on an individual’s vantage point. Retailers’ eyes light up at hugely commercial collections with a great story. The 60th anniversary Omega Speedmasters and 50th anniversary Rolex Sea Dwellers certainly tick both boxes.
When it comes to a model that stuck in the mind long after we first saw it, WatchPro cannot think of a better piece from the whole of Baselworld than the Porsche Design Monobloc Actuator. Purists might scoff at the use of the workhorse automatic Calibre ETA Valjoux 7754 movement, but it is how Porche’s watchmaking and motoring engineers and designers have changed the way that the chronograph function is operated that made us purr.
Rather than the normal push buttons at 2 o’clock and 4 o’clock that start, stop and reset the chronograph, the Actuator has a rocker switch built into the side of the case that is barely visible at a glance because it perfectly follows the line of the case as it flows towards the lugs either side of the crown.
It is hard to describe the beauty of this system without handling the watch. The rocker is solid – you have to press it quite hard before it clicks to start the stopwatch hand. This is important because it is engineered to keep water or any other unwanted dust or grit getting anywhere near the inside of the case.
Porsche Design says that it is so precise that it is possible to operate the rocker underwater without driving water into the watch.
The watch is large at 45.5mm, but replacing traditional pushers with the integrated rocker makes it feel smaller. It is also lighter than it looks because it is made of titanium with a carbide coating that will stop it getting scratched.
The Actuator collection will be available in Porsche Design stores and select wholesalers starting in May 2017. Prices range from approximately $6,350 to $6,850 (£5080-£5480).
WatchPro suggests getting down to the London boutique ahead of that launch and placing a pre-order because this watch is going to sell out fast.
It is the most satisfying and memorable watch we have seen at this year’s show, and we have no hesitation naming it WatchPro’s Best Watch at Baselworld.