DE­SIGN­ERS IN THE HOT SEAT

Meet the creative minds be­hind some of the most in­ter­est­ing time­pieces in the world

MVMT - - Contents - Words farhan shah

The most im­por­tant de­sign­ers in the watch world share their se­crets and opin­ions

Vin­cent Per­ri­ard, CEO of HYT

You’ll never for­get the first time you wear a watch from this Swiss watch­maker. Un­like tra­di­tional time­pieces, which uses hands to tell the time, HYT’S watches use flu­ids. Vin­cent Per­ri­ard, the creative vi­sion­ary of the com­pany, gives us a peek into its in­ner work­ings.

The HYT watch looks like a piece of en­gi­neer­ing art. How do the en­gi­neers work to­gether with the de­sign­ers?

We al­ways work in tan­dem in or­der to max­imise ideas. We have steps, a creative bridge so to speak, where we ex­change and fine-tune the ini­tial idea to col­lect pos­si­ble added val­ues from the watch­mak­ers, de­sign­ers and chemists. It also helps that we are a small team.

What are the hard­est ob­sta­cles when you cre­ate a new HYT watch?

Tech­nol­ogy has time con­straints but we never give up. If some­thing is not pos­si­ble, then we ask the team to cont inue search­ing for so­lu­tions, even if we need to post­pone the idea for a few months. As we speak, we have dif­fer­ent con­cepts in the pipe­line for the next three years. For a small com­pany like HYT, this is a strong com­mit­ment to R&D and we eng age a lot of bud­get in this field. We have crazy ideas and plans.

Beat Wein­mann, co-founder of Ochs und Ju­nior

It’s al­most im­pos­si­ble to dis­til the essence of this Lucernebased watch­maker into a single para­graph. In­stead think of Ochs und Ju­nior as the watch world’s equiv­a­lent of a mu­sic su­per­group. Doc­tor Lud­wig Oech­slin, lead de­signer for Ulysse Nardin for 20 years and watch icon in his own right, joined forces with Beat Wein­mann, who served for 16 years on the man­age­ment board of watch and lux­ury goods re­tailer Em­bassy, to form a com­pany and pro­duce time­pieces that are un­like any you have ever seen be­fore.

Ochs und Ju­nior es­chews the be­lief that the more com­pli­ca­tions in a watch, the bet­ter it is. Is less re­ally more?

Smart re­duc­tion, like in ar­chi­tec­ture or in soft­ware en­gi­neer­ing, is more dif­fi­cult to do than to add a lot of el­e­ments. It is a ques­tion of pre­ci­sion. Be­ing a former di­rec­tor of the In­ter­na­tional Watch Mu­seum and hav­ing in-depth knowl­edge of as­tron­omy, math­e­mat­ics and physics offers Oech­slin the op­por­tu­nity to think deeper, and in a dif­fer­ent way, than a nor­mal watch de­signer.

Tell us about the de­sign process of your watches.

Many brands start with an idea of how a time­piece should look and where the dis­play for cer­tain func­tions should be lo­cated. We go about things com­pletely dif­fer­ently here. We start with a func­tional or us­abil­ity goal, and then cre­ate me­chan­ics that are so rad­i­cally re­duced and el­e­gant that the de­sign of the dial fol­lows the pu­rity of the con­struc­tion. For us form fol­lows func­tion.

Would you con­sider your­self hip­ster watch­mak­ers?

Not at all. We are the fur­thest thing from hip­ster. We cre­ate pos­si­bly the most se­ri­ous and thought­ful kind of watch­mak­ing a com­pany can. We are able to do that be­cause we are fo­cused on do­ing watches ex­actly how we see them, without the com­pro­mise of hav­ing a mar­ket­ing de­part­ment and be­ing un­der the pres­sure of an­nual fig­ures to be de­liv­ered to the share­hold­ers. If that were the case, we’d have to do mass taste so­lu­tions with less qual­ity of con­tent.

What are your thoughts on the state of de­sign in the watch in­dus­try?

We re­ally think that there is a lack of de­sign in the watch in­dus­try. In ad­di­tion, most watches have no truly unique de­sign lan­guage that would give some­one with a gen­eral knowl­edge of watches an idea what brand is be­hind a time­piece without a large logo on the dial. I am sur­prised how an in­dus­try can live with so lit­tle ef­fort at in­no­va­tion and so lit­tle will to cre­ate new qual­i­ties for the time that we live in. I think that Ochs und Ju­nior is giv­ing an an­swer to how a mod­ern me­chan­i­cal watch can and should look in an era of su­per-com­pli­cated, mar­ket­ing-driven watches.

I am sur­prised how an in­dus­try can live with so lit­tle ef­fort at in­no­va­tion and so lit­tle will to cre­ate

Daniel Niederer, founder of Seven­fri­day

In­spired by in­dus­trial el­e­ments, mu­sic, art and more, Seven­fri­day is the an­tithe­sis of your typ­i­cal Swiss watch brand with its devil-may-care at­ti­tude and rabid in­sis­tence on cre­at­ing its own path. Daniel Niederer chats with us.

What comes first for Seven­fri­day: form or func­tion?

They are ac­tu­ally thought about at the same mo­ment. The thing is, we have our own defini­tion of “func­tion” to be­gin with. What also makes Seven­fri­day unique is our de­sign lan­guage. Even though we have a cool at­ti­tude about it, we are se­ri­ous about watch­mak­ing. We cre­ate in­ter­faces ex­actly the same way as for a high-end con­tem­po­rary con­cept watch. The de­sign mind­set and struc­ture are clearly dif­fer­ent com­pared to the fash­ion watches that are made for de­part­ment stores. We pay a lot of at­ten­tion to de­tails.

The watch in­dus­try is in a tu­mul­tuous state now, don’t you think?

I’m quite en­joy­ing the mess smart­watches are cre­at­ing. It’s also in­ter­est­ing to see how crowd­fund­ing plat­forms are chang­ing mar­ket­ing and de­sign. Dust had to be re­moved any­way. From a gen­eral point of view, any de­sign can be in­ter­est­ing if it has a mes­sage, mean­ing or emo­tion to con­vey.

Thomas Höh­nel, de­signer of the NOMOS Te­tra Neo­matik

One of the most recog­nis­able watch brands in the world, thanks to the unique font it uses for the di­als, NOMOS re­cently ex­panded into square ter­ri­tory with the Te­tra Neo­matik. De­signer Thomas Höh­nel tells us more.

What were the de­sign chal­lenges of work­ing with a square case?

While the case is square, the hands still move in a cir­cle. So there are many de­sign el­e­ments that need to be just right to give the watch a pro­por­tion­ate aes­thetic. The hands, for ex­am­ple, only reach the edge of the case at four points and the minute mark­ers lengthen to­wards the cor­ners to com­pen­sate for this. The case lugs also have to be po­si­tioned just right. The over­all ef­fect is that the watch ap­pears pre­cise and re­fined, as the pro­por­tions are bal­anced.

What’s your phi­los­o­phy to watch de­sign?

Our over­all ap­proach can be at­trib­uted to our mem­ber­ship of the Deutscher Werk­bund, a Ger­man in­dus­try as­so­ci­a­tion that pro­motes the use of crafts­man­ship and tech­nol­ogy to cre­ate beau­ti­ful, use­ful and long-last­ing prod­ucts.

Bruno Be­lamich, creative di­rec­tor of Bell & Ross

With its large nu­mer­als and abil­ity to with­stand al­most anything na­ture throws at it, a Bell & Ross watch is made to be read and to last. De­sign is an af­ter­thought, ac­cord­ing to Bruno Be­lamich, and yet, it’s be­cause of this phi­los­o­phy that makes the de­sign of a Bell & Ross time­piece stand out.

Tell us about a hid­den de­sign el­e­ment in a Bell & Ross watch.

What many peo­ple do not know is that the black case de­vel­oped for our iconic BR01 is a di­rect in­spi­ra­tion from the dash­boards and tools used in planes, es­pe­cially mil­i­tary planes. Most dash­boards are black to min­imise light re­flec­tion, thus op­ti­mis­ing the read­abil­ity of the in­stru­ments and di­als. Bell & Ross uses black cases with the same ob­jec­tive. It in­creases the leg­i­bil­ity of the dial.

The ma­te­ri­als in your watches are an un­der­stated core com­po­nent.

Yes, for us, it’s not a ques­tion of de­sign or style. We al­ways opt for ma­te­ri­als based on their prop­er­ties. My favourite is ti­ta­nium be­cause it com­bines both strength and com­fort. In ad­di­tion to its hy­poal­ler­genic qual­i­ties, it has the abil­ity to adapt to the body’s tem­per­a­ture. Grade 5 ti­ta­nium has ex­cep­tional cor­ro­sion re­sis­tance prop­er­ties, which en­able the pro­duc­tion of small parts that are light yet strong. And just to share with you, we will be us­ing wood for the first time in the con­struc­tion of our up­com­ing new watch case in Oc­to­ber. In­dian rose­wood, to be ex­act. It’s a rare tim­ber that offers high com­pres­sive strength yet has an el­e­gant tex­ture and beau­ti­ful fine grain.

We opt for ma­te­ri­als for our watches based on their prop­er­ties, not for de­sign or style

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