Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Masters of Time

It looks like it could be rain for the watch industry. Sales haven't been this desolate since the introduction of cheap Japanese quartzes. Descriptions of international sales, especially in the luxury stratospheres of the market, have been anywhere from a slip to a
nosedive. And don't expect the Swiss to be less stern anytime soon.

Predictions for End Times of the watch come with many explanations: The effect of the recession on executive bonuses, the industry's hallucinatory and outsized price-to-value points, and a general death of the watch due to a digital generation uninterested in wearing them. (Indeed, maybe it's the pant-load of time-bearing gadgetry that's making their pants sag.) It's certainly not for want of design. In fact, it appears the oracles predicting the industry's end times have inspired a new frontier of design experimentation. Fear of death can do that sometimes.

With that in mind, maybe it's time to take another look at the watch.

Above, a stunning display of design essentiality by designer Tokujin Yoshioka from Issey Miyake's "TO" watch series. Mechanical movement provided by Seiko.

This is a wristwatch as wearable Zen garden. Its face is separated into three stainless steel circles, two moving like rake strokes on gravel and one calibrated outermost ring to stablize the visual field, boulder-like. Despite its overt minimalism the watch is easy to read. As you'll see below, other watches take a more whimsical approach to readability. Time, it seems, can be made even more abstract.

The Vue watch from Swiss-born, San Francisco-based designer Yves Behar (under the fuseproject banner). As time proceeds the numbers fade leaving only the present time visible (be always present). A watch to offer not only thick layers of meaning but even thicker conversational possibilities. Another from Issey Miyake.

The Hublot Black Caviar Bang: Visual caviar that includes a white gold case tiled over in a mass of black diamonds. The weight of the diamonds is 34.4 carats but the weight on your estate may be slightly greater: With a price tag of million dollars you may want to take this off before painting the tool shed this weekend.

Yet another Issey Miyake piece, this time the OVO watch designed by Shunji Yamanaka. The reflective face is stainless steel (also available in all black). And at the relatively Walmart friendly price of $310, this watch is practically as affordable as its namesake ("egg" in Portuguese or something or other).

Telling time with this watch has been described as "cryptic." Designed by Denis Guidone, well known for his ultra-minimalist watch designs, the graphic face of his "Ora Unica" consists of two circular dials that position "graphical gesture" endpoints as hands. Somehow, you'll be able to figure out what time it is. (Probably not the best timepiece to wear if you're timing stock day-trades.) Guidone's non-linear design was selected as the winner of the international design competition Adamo Eva.

Still in its conceptual phase, this watch is not yet available for purchase.

This art deco-looking number is the "Hu" Watch designed By Ross Lovegrove from Issey Miyake. Its sensuously tumid contours make the proper accessory for weekend rocketeering or cruising for heiresses in the Avanti.

A lady's watch, as you might've guessed: The Corum Golden Bridge Diamond. It features a mechanical movement of an innovative linear bar shape with red gold all around, sapphire crystals, and a galaxy of diamonds. Price
: $96,000

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