The humble watch is perhaps the epitome of great design that revolves around function.
Don’t get me wrong there are definitely watches that perform badly in terms of function, watches that have been designed purely to be decorative. These are the watches with no numbers and no minute markers so that you can only really estimate the time providing you’re actually wearing it the right way up in the first place (The struggle is real!).
During a recent visit to the British museum I was struck by what an extraordinary invention the clock, and subsequently the watch is. The collection showed the evolution of the clock from sundials to clock towers then grandfather clocks, to wall clocks and finally watches and digital clocks.
The mechanism of a clock is so complicated and delicate and all the pieces have been finely tuned to ensure perfect time. One misaligned tooth and the whole thing becomes useless.
My own watch (featured above) is one of my favourite things. Without a watch I feel a bit lost, completely under-dressed! There is such a strong feeling of disappointment when I turn over my wrist and realise there’s no watch there.
I think that when you buy a watch it becomes a part of you, it’s something you wear everyday. You trust it and rely on it. You form an attachment to it. When you have a good watch and part of it breaks you replace the part not the full watch.
There are so many things about watches that I think make them great design.
First is that they are a true feat of precision engineering. Every part carefully and precisely designed and made to ensure the final product keeps perfect time. In fact the mechanism itself is truly beautiful, watching a mechanical watch mechanism in action is always mesmerising!
Secondly watches are timeless (pardon the pun!). But they are. A watch made 50 years ago still has a place in the modern aesthetic.Watches, as far as I can see, will never go out of fashion, and they will never be made defunct.
Finally they are useful. Watches have a function. More than that as far as watches go, they are only as good as their function. No one will consider a watch great if it keeps terrible time no matter how ‘aesthetically pleasing’ it is!