watch design...

hiya all,

are there any watch designers out there?
would like to connect, share info, share designs and possibly
joint projects for future lines. I’m based in Switzerland but
open to the world. I manufacture both in Switzerland and China.
Please get in touch.

Haven’t seen much on watches on here. I used to design them when I working at a consulting group. Pretty fun products to work on.

Can you post in any of your work, would love to see it.


Not a watch designer, but I’ve found it quite interesting. One thing that has always bothered me is the rather homogeneous designs that are put out, though it seems things are changing a bit. Supposedly there hasn’t been a better time to be interested in watches than now.

Supposedly there hasn’t been a better time to be interested in watches than now.

How so?

I’ll post this week-end.

I was strolling the Red dot design museum in Singapore when I came across this impressive number.

It gives me a headache just imagining the brainpower that went into this project. Belt Drives for a watch? My guess is they’re breeding micro mice to power the next model. It’ll have to be compartmentaly refrigerated to keep the motivational cheese from rotting without freezing the miniature gyroscopically balanced cage wheels/power source. Maybe they’ll just use holograms and genetically engineer the mice to feed off of epidermal outgassings. What micro-animal do you want powering your timepiece?

Any inside info on the creation of the Monaco V4 would be appreciated.

I liked this quote from the copy:
“If at first the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it.”
Albert Einstein

Have you seen this Tag? LED’s under diamonds I believe:

I am currently in watch design.

I agree with the “homogeneous” nature of the market comment. Luckily enough my area is based on the opposite. The barrier in watch design (as probably is the case in footwear and other areas of design) is resistance from buyers and such. Sometimes they get scared when they have something totally new in front of them.

hit the nail on the head there.

To most buyers safe = sales

but the smarter ones know that unique = more people coming in the store and then more sales.

When given the opportunity, I think a large portion of consumers will step outside the box, the problem is that the buyers for the large retailers often don’t give the consumers enough credit. Target is a great example of a large retailer stepping (a little bit, and only in some area) outside the box and people responding. And they try stuff, it doesn’t always stick, like the Virgin electronics, or Stark product, but they know sometimes it will stick, like Isaac Mizrahi.

They used to have pretty nice Mossimo watches there (even if they where very Diesel-ish, seems to have become bland as of late though.

So, here’s my post about watches…

First of all, I am not a watch designer per se. I did a bunch of graphics for cheap brands (like Swatch), but that is, well… graphic design mostly.

Recently a friend of mine showed me a bunch of watches he did produce through a “private label factory” in Switzerland. Pretty nice stuff, plus its got the “swiss made” tag which is always nice.

The next step is that I think about releasing my own watches in the future, or at least design watches and see if any label is interested.

I don’t do 3D (Solid works etc.), but simply 2D design in Illustrator… It’s a good starting point to sketch a watch. But the problem is I need a book, tutorial, or whatever else with important information like, every type of cases and their size, all sizes in general, rules, things you’re supposed to know when you design a watch… do’s and don’t and so on.

I’ve contacted several persons in Switzerland, like a book store specialized in watchmaking books, they couldn’t really answer my question as most books are made for watchmakers, not designers. it’s weird…

So the reason I’ve started this thread is to exchange info, book names, tips on watch making, and also, find potential designers who might want to work on some models.

Thanks alot for all the private messages I received this week-end, I’ll answer all the mails during the week. Thanks.

I doubt you will find a book for watch design, given how specific the area is. Its like shoes or cars. You might find books on how to sketch footwear, cars or watches, but the manufacturing part is very specific and the books wont touch upon molds, pricing, tolerances, materials, components or other things in depth. these things you can only really get by getting hands on and dealing with manufacturing. That’s why designers are constantly going to china, because there are always new developments in manufacturing and we must keep up-to-date. This knowledge also gives you a chance to realistically challenge current methods and thats how new manufacturing processes are born.

If you are really interested in successfully designing watches independently, experience in manufacturing in general would help. You can find watch parts/terminology online fairly easily, like here:

Glossary of Watch Terms - Information - Fotowatch (a lot of it is movement-specific, which you dont really need to know unless yorue designing your own movement (ie. guts), which takes years and engineering knowhow)

Touching upon what Yo said, even if you release your own line, the retailers will always have their say, be it nordstroms, macys, or whatever. But i would take all this with a grain of salt. We are constantly giving our buyers and our accounts surprises in the market, by blowing out styles they really didnt believe in and bought reluctantly in small quantities. Only when numbers come in do they begin to “believe” in the product. Its all a balance though. we cant go out and design the craziest crap either.

Good luck! hope this helped.

D_ do you usually buy off the shelf modules and movements from vendor catalogs? Do you get involved with that part of it?

I remember when I was doing watches, we commonly did this. When we wanted specific functions or graphics, we could usually by a good dot matrix module and have the vendor write new code for the functions we wanted.

Once you have some vendor relationships, they can work with you to modify or develop new movements and modules.

It would be cool if someone put up the watch equivalent of Richard Kuchinsky’s first pullover blog: That is a great resource for footwear designers.


Yo, for about 90% of the stuff we buy off the shelf guts like you mentioned. but every now and then we will work on a special project, mostly dealing with new technology, and work with the engineers from the factory to develop a new module. This happenned while we worked on the Sony Ericsson bluetooth watch for example. We had to develop the module from scratch, which can get expensive.

I am also doing this on a current project, where we are doing the module, but i also had to design the entire operation flow of the software. If you are established and have a good relationship with the factory, they can usually share the cost of development.

i found this useful site on watch design. give history on all types of watchs

hi d-flux and yo

what sort of money does it take to produce a prototype watch sample from scratch

Designed this watch 10 years ago. We developed a machine to do hi-precision gem cutting. Problem with manual cutting is the accuracies and consistencies that can be achieved. Hence jewelry has al kinds of horrible claws to keep the gems in place and also to take care of the poor tolerances.

Precision cutting and advanced bonding techniques would allow to create pure gem based watches - which we designed, but did not manufacture. However, the company desinged and maunfactured precision cut bonded jwellery. The watch industry is selling 17th century heritage and is not forward looking. Who wants to include mechanical elements in this century ?

Watches will be of great interest to anthropologists – as a special case of products, technologically backward cultural artifacts.

I also am in watch design, well I am getting there. I just graduated a May and took a job with a watch company doing their displays and packaing and such, gotta start somewhere right. I am the first and only one at the company with the “product design” background and it’s def not something they are used to.

I’ve spent the last few months trying to understand everything I can from the materials to movements to the BS from licensors and distributors. It’s a lot of red tape in this business. If you spend all of 10 minutes looking at some of the watch blogs you can tell that there is really nothing new, different or innovative, there really is only so much one can do with a watch. Every brand has styling that is being copied by another. I know for a fact that the company I work for has had some legal issues with copying design but so have many others.

You have a lot more creativity doing brand new stuff, but when designing within a brand it’s incredibly difficult. You can’t really do the cool stuff you wish you could. It has to sell and like what was said before, buyers are afraid of what’s new and different. Add the frustration of that to the realization that the case design is half or less than half of the over-all design, the dial (the face) is the most important piece.

Watch design is very detailed and few individuals are willing to part with tradition and wear the radical new stuff.

I don’t know, just my 2 cents on what i’ve noticed thus far.

Guy I graduated with designed for Fossil/DKNY right out of school, but I think he’s at Kohler now.
Good portfolio. Darn talented guy.

With everyone carrying a cell-phone with them today (which obviously has the time digitally available), I wonder if watch sales have been decreasing? Yeah, I know they are a piece of jewelry, but the need for them is no longer really there.

Any thoughts on this?

the whole cell-phone issue has been a pain in the backside because a number of articles have been floating about saying that watches are a thing of the past. The problem is that actual numbers arent taken into account. a year and a half ago there was a slump in sales, but it has picked up since then and we are doing very good business. watches now are more of a fashion accessory than a functional piece, and i will even say this about the traditional, uber-expensive brands like patek, zenith, etc. In that category its all about the workmanship and skill used to create such intricate movements, tourbillons, etc. and also serves as a status symbol.

As for getting samples done, if you have a relationship with a company they will sample dummy prototypes free of charge, but you probably need a history of orders for them to consider you a valuable customer.

I would def agree with D-flux. I see articles here and there saying that watches are becoming a thing of the past because of cell phones or other media that has a clock function built in. This has caused watches to become a fashion piece. It’s really apparent with the many watches that are “iced” out, but people are now coordinating watches with clothing. The new technologies are allowing metal, ceramic, enamels, plastics, rubbers to be manufactured in any color in the Pantone chart giving people the chance to have a blue or red watch, band, etc. Like D-flux said, we are doing great business, if we weren’t there wouldn’t be so many new brands coming out.

You basically deal with two kinds of individuals; those who appreciate the quality and craftsmanship behind fine watches and those who have watches to accessorize. Whatever the case, it’s pretty cool to work on a product that dates back thousands of years, you can really see the evolution of the technology from decade to decade.