Ever since Singer Vehicle Design was first founded in 2009, only sixty or so cars have been produced. However, there's not one Porsche fan in the world who could possibly turn their nose up at this legendary signature affixed to the Porsche 911. That signature has now found its horological counterpart.
The ultimate quest for a true-to-spirit makeover
Notwithstanding the general excellence of the German brand and its legendary design, no self-respecting car enthusiast could help but admire the Singer phenomenon. In fact, there's a waiting list of 200 fanatics, each of them already the proud owner of a vintage 911, and perfectly aware they'll have to wait at least two years for their custom design. The idea is simple. The pre-requisite is that anyone owning such a car can request a makeover from Rob Dickinson, a Californian designer with a showbiz background and also a big 911 fan. The result will be a virtually identical-looking vehicle in which every detail is given a contemporary twist in terms of materials, engine and interior comforts. It's no mean feat rebirthing and reinventing an historical classic, but it's all part and parcel of the brand's raison d'être to remain true to its original codes and values.
Like many people with taste, the renowned watch designer, Marco Borraccino, was always a secret admirer of the Californian designer's talent. So much so that he decided to tell him. First he received one reply, then another, then a regular flow of correspondence of epistolary proportions ensued, culminating in a relationship of mutual exchange and respect. Gradually, the watchmaking bug spread throughout Rob’s veins. The words were magic to his ears: the chronograph. A complication so commonplace that its sheer complexity might well be overlooked, and anyone able to master it would be rightfully considered a supreme master watchmaker. When we think of the chronograph, we cannot help but think of all the vintage models that have left their mark on the automobile world. Now, if there's one point over which the partners-to-be were in complete agreement, it was that they would not be creating a purpose-built automobile watch, as in past collaborations between other brands in the two mega industries.
The chronograph reinvented, reimagined
But what if the chronograph were to be dedicated solely to its interval-timing functions, which would mean relegating its hour and minute displays to second place? It looked good on paper, but we are now in the master watchmaker's territory, the realms of motors, calibres and complications. It was just the beginning! When Jean-Marc Wiederrecht met Marco Borraccino armed with his detailed drawings, he was initially perplexed. Who could possibly have betrayed the secret he'd been harbouring over the previous ten years, one responsible for so many sleepless nights? The idea had been in the air for a while.
It was a three-way encounter. There was just the right chemistry between them. Rob Dickinson's extremist approach, which consisted in "reinterpreting every detail of the Porsche 911's iconic personality using modern techniques, while remaining true to its DNA", had found its match in Jean-Marc Wiederrecht's enterprising spirit. Captivated by the chronograph, be it of integrated or modular design, which had continued to resist any change of course over the centuries, the Retrograde master undertook to reinvent it from scratch. Thus the AgenGraphe was born. It was the first chronograph calibre willing to turn its back on the conventional complication typified by the differing positions and dimensions of its sub-dials, by resourcefully opting to displace the small seconds to to make room for the chronograph's large seconds on the dial's perimeter.
Singer Track1 - the promise of the new
The Singer Track1, the new watch creation to emerge from this beautiful meeting of minds, could not fail to be inspired by the harmonious forms of the legendary chronographs of the 60s and 70s. Crafted in titanium, the barrel-shaped case measuring 43 mm in diameter, featuring two uniquely aligned, ergonomic pushers, is fitted, true to its iconic status, with a calibre that breaks all the codes and blurs all the boundaries. Sporting a central 3 x 60 display (60 seconds, 60 minutes and 60 hours), the Singer boasts an exclusive feature. As the centre of the dial is set aside for the measurement of time intervals, the Super-LumiNova-tipped hour and minute hands rotate around a cursor positioned at 6 o’ clock, facilitated by the ultra-complex juxtaposition of two thin, curved disks. It's clearly no traditional bezel, but two disks positioned so closely together you can barely see the join!
In true automotive style, there's a tachymeter on the dial flange. The mechanical parts are neatly arranged around a column-wheel chronograph and a series of spiral cams permitting the central display of functions. The new calibre measures 34.4 mm in diameter, beats at a frequency of 3 Hertz, and boasts two spring barrels ensuring a power reserve of 60 hours and an oscillating weight dial-side. Some of the 477 parts can be partially glimpsed through the transparent case back and present a truly captivating sight. The timepiece is affixed to a strap, which, together with the mini-saucer covering the pinion uniting the hands, is redolent of the racetrack atmosphere so beloved of drivers.
But it's far more than just a watch, albeit a particularly successful model that's water resistant to 10 atm; it's a whole new approach. A new watchmaking brand is born. Following the first issue of 50 limited edition pieces, it will be getting ready to take the market by storm. And it's sure to capture the hearts of every vintage car enthusiast and high-end watchmaking fanatic. It's all a matter of passion...