Top Gun dropped in 1986. Aside from shocking us with its homoerotic volleyball scene and popularizing the methhead expression “I feel the need for speed,” the movie was famous for making Tom Cruise look taller than 5’7″. I mean a mega-star. Which watch did Lieutenant Pete “Maverick” Mitchell wear while hot-dogging an F-14? Which one does he wear in Top Gun: Maverick? . . .
Same one! In case you forgot to read the headline (easily done), it’s the Orfina Porsche Design Chronograph 1.
I don’t know why Top Gun’s original prop master reached back a decade for Mav’s timepiece – the Orfina was released in 1973 – but he or she picked a historically significant watch. As you might have guessed from its designation, the Chronograph 1 was Porsche Design’s first ever timepiece, manufactured by Swiss watchmaker Orfina.
The Chronograph 1 marks the beginning of F.A. Porsche’s “speedometer on the wrist” design language. Its perfectly balanced layout and red second hand reflect a laser-like focus on legibility, something rival chronographs (e.g., the OMEGA Speedmaster Moonwatch) couldn’t match. Not to mention the vast majority of modern day chronos.
The Orfina Porsche Design Chronograph is also the timepiece that kicked-off the black watch genre – a Darth Vader aesthetic that continues in today’s PD products (also on display in the Tudor Black Bay Chrono Dark).
Orfina achieved its blackness via PVD (Physical Vapor Coating) and DLC (Diamond-Like Carbon coating). As you can see, the matte black finish wasn’t very durable. I have a feeling Hollywood touched-up Mav’s prop watch to keep it suitably sleek.
As we revealed in our review of the IWC Porsche Design Titanium Chronograph, despite launching his wrist-borne timekeeper in the middle of the quartz crisis, F.A. Porsche insisted on putting Swiss automatic movements into his watches – right until he didn’t.
The Orfina Porsche Design Chronograph 1 was powered by a Lemania 5100 automatic winding movement. As woundforlife.com reports, it was the ideal temporal engine for Top Gun’s Top Gun.
The 5100 is one of the only chronograph movements where shock has very little effect on the chronograph second hand’s movement. Most chronograph mechanisms utilize an intermediary wheel to drive the chronograph second hand, which is susceptible to stopping when exposed to shock.
The 5100 forewent that design, opting for a direct drive system, a move that made it virtually impervious to shock-induced stoppage, aside from cases of extreme shock. For many years, the German military found the 5100 to be the only acceptable movement for its purposes, largely due to the outstanding shock resistance.
Is the Top Gun movie watch the German military version (as above) or a plain Jane Chronograph 1? It’s a mystery almost as great as how many tax dollars subsidized Top Gun and Top Gun: Maverick .
It will come as no shock that Top Gun elevated the price of a pre-owned Orfina Porsche Design Chronograph 1. And that Top Gun: Maverick won’t do anything to lower them. The non-military model featured in the pic at the top of this post lists on chrono24.com for $3321. Collectors! Welcome to the danger zone.
Assuming that the Orfina Porsche Design Chronograph 1 Tom Cruise wears in TG and TG:M are the same functional timepiece, its price at auction would hit the stratosphere. Meanwhile, look out for TG:M and the OPDC1 at a cinema or website near you. This summer.