3150 IWC Porsche Design Compass
I’m fairly certain that in the late 70s, IWC and Porsche design did their collaborating in a bar or somewhere ample drink is served. How else do you get to the Ocean 2000, anodized black, and all the fantastic cool-guy aviation chronographs? Herodotus, a Greek historian, reported once that for all important decisions, the ancient Persians would debate it publicly twice: once when drunk and once when sober. Apparently, this led to a satisfaction of both the emotional and rational minds. I have since adopted this philosophy for all decisions, and as a subject matter expert I can state that I believe IWC and Porsche did so too in 1977. Because while this looks like just a watch, it isn’t. It’s an object that questions the fundamental function of case, which has manifested here in a compass. Yes, all the time-telling mechanical movement witchcraft simply flips up and out of the way so you can know where you’re going too.
This was the Explorer before phones did the exploring for you, and it was designed by Ferdinand Alexander Porsche, who has other comparably insignificant designs such as the first 911 to his name. He stopped on cars in ’72 to start up the Design Studio, and after the first few watches came this. Porsche was an adventurer, outdoorsman, and hunter. In ’77, he had the idea to combine passions. A compass with a watch was simply too unrefined an experience for the keen eye of Porsche, and so we wound up here.
Design lead Bernd Meyrspeer sketched this concept with a crosshair dial and then built a prototype himself in brass. Then came actual production of the thing, which proved damn tricky as this was far outside most of the Swiss manufacture’s purvue and it was the middle of the quartz crisis. But the real tricky thing here was that compasses need to be magnetized, and as we know from airport scanners watches hate magnetism. Luckily, IWC had just been developing a totally a-magnetic movement for the German Navy’s Minesweeper divers (to avoid a boom) in the issued Ocean 2000. The IWC caliber 375.23 showed up here first, and to the German Navy second. It’s an insanely technical bit of watchmaking for the late 70s and looks modern today. But it makes me think IWC and Porsche packed many beers on their hikes. Oh, and one fun detail: the half-integrated bracelet links are precisely 5mm so that you can measure with them to perfection as well.
This example is in excellent overall condition. The dial is undamaged, with fantastic cream tritium. The other dial, too, is undamaged and pointing to true north beautifully. These cases aluminum PVD can wear through quite easily. It’s examples like this that must’ve sat in a drawer for awhile, because there is no section of significant wear which I can see that has exposed the titanium. It’s quite the absurd level of ingenious engineering for a 5K-ish watch.