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Men'sWeek issue 05/08/2014

On- and offscreen, Patrick Dempsey is riding full speed ahead. When he’s not playing Dr. Derek “McDreamy” Shepherd on ABC’s 10th season of “Grey’s Anatomy,” he’s juggling daddy duty in Los Angeles along with being a professional sports-car road-racer for Dempsey Racing, which he founded in 2007.

This story first appeared in the May 8, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Now the 48-year-old actor is adding watch designer to his résumé. Come June 15, Porsche Design will launch 50 Dempsey Racing Limited Edition timepieces. Each will retail for $6,250 and will be sold at Porsche Design Stores throughout North America.

“For men, the major piece of jewelry is a watch,” he said. “There’s always a fascination with great movements and how intense the labor is that goes into it — and, of course, telling the time.” Which, Dempsey said, is essential on the racetrack. “Technically, you have to tell time all the time whether glancing over while driving, or when you’re in the pits, or when you’re timing other cars. You’re always in an endurance race.”

The Porsche Design Dempsey Racing Limited Edition is a refined version of the Porsche Design Dashboard Automatic Chronograph. The watch — made from titanium — has a dial that is in a matte black, and comes with an easy grip crown and push buttons. Each will feature a colored Dempsey Racing crest between the numerals seven and eight, and “Racing Edition” at the 12 o’clock mark. The case will come in brushed titanium with a screwed-down titanium case back, which features non-reflective sapphire crystal and is water-resistant to 100 meters.

The collaboration came about earlier last year, Dempsey said, after driving with Porsche exclusively for competitions. After signing on for two more years with Porsche — with Dempsey driving the Porsche 911 GT America in an upcoming Tudor United SportsCar Championship GTD race — Porsche Design approached Dempsey about collaborating.

After going back and forth between designs and colors, Dempsey was finally satisfied with the outcome of the piece.

“I think the watch we created is for everyday as much as it is for racing and tracking speed,” he said. “It’s elegant enough for night, but really durable and precise when you use it on the track. Racing is all about time and balance — a great metaphor for life.”

Dempsey — who placed third at Circuit of The Americas — said he grew up admiring the sport. But it wasn’t until 10 years ago that he decided to devout himself professionally to it.

“I really love the team aspect of it,” he said. “Progressing with the team, getting deeper and deeper into it, I saw that there’s so much camaraderie and fellowship. It’s a team effort and the competition is highly emotional.”

The actor once said he’d go full-time into professional racing if he could. When asked if it still rang true, Dempsey responded: “I don’t want to walk away completely from acting, but I do want to take more time for the racing season,” which, he said, went for the entire year.

“I enjoy doing both,” he said. “But on my downtime, I do like developing new cars, or constantly working on sponsorships, partners, certain obligations — oh, and training.”

An aspect he said that most people weren’t aware of.

“Racing is an actual sport,” he said. “There’s a misconception that you’re not an athlete with racing, but it’s very physical.”

To train, he said, he goes through intense core, neck, shoulder and arm exercises, along with cardio.

“You don’t have to be bulky, but you do have to be very fit.”

And for those who have an interest in racing, Dempsey had a few words of advice: “Start out go-karting.”

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