Sometimes it can sometimes be difficult to make your mark when you are born into a successful family business. Ferdinand Alexander Porsche, nicknamed Butzi, had big shoes to fill: his grandfather, also called Ferdinand, founded the Porsche company and designed the VW Beetle; his father, yet another Ferdinand (better known as Ferry) designed the Porsche 356. So how do you follow that? Well, Butzi only went and designed the 911, which should have been plenty for anyone, but in the 1970s he got itchy creative muscles and founded Porsche Design, making objects of fine design like sunglasses and watches. It was a separate company that is now back under Porsche control, and in the last couple of years has been making some beautiful, uniquely styled watches. The Porsche Design 1919 Chronotimer Flyback Brown & Leather has a 42mm titanium case. Chronometer-certified automatic movement. Water resistant to 100 metres.
Back in the 1970s, if you spent a lot of money on a watch it would probably be gold, and it would almost certainly not be sporty. But at that time, anyone sportingly inclined was beginning to see the alternative in the waves of cheap, durable quartz watches that could take a beating, or at least be easily replaced. The Royal Oak was Audemars Piguet’s act of defiance. It made a radical watch that had a steel case, yet was so expensively produced that it cost more than the non-sporty, gold-cased watches from AP’s rivals. Initially the Gérald Genta-designed watch did not sell well, but then its time came, and the Royal Oak became a mainstay of the Audemars Piguet range, and a reminder that the whole point of rules is that you should break them. The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak “Jumbo” Extra Thin has a self-winding movement in a 39mm titanium case. Waterproof to 50 metres with a minimum power reserve of 40 hours.
If you ever wonder why watches got so big, a lot of it is down to Panerai. The Florence-based brand made its name making watches for Italian frogmen in the early part of the 20th century. When it was revived in the 1990s it took the chunky, no-nonsense aesthetic of those early watches and transformed it into a brand for people who like their watches cool, functional, and – for the most part – big. But then everybody got in on the game and suddenly any Premiership footballer worth his salt would want a watch with a dial roughly the diameter of the match ball. Thankfully the race to be biggest has abated in recent years. Even Panerai makes some sub-40mm watches now, but you can, of course, still have a big one if you want. This one measures a nicely sized 42mm. Big enough, but not showing off. The Panerai Luminor Due 3 Days Automatic Acciaio has a 42mm stainless-steel case and a self-winding movement with three days of power reserve. Water resistant to 30 metres.