As a designer I know that design is much too important to be left in the hands of designers.

 

Everyone wanted to work there for a year or so. At least one of my classmates is still working there for over a decade now. It might seem strange that students in the most prestigious of design centers, Milan, are looking up to a Swiss cheap plastic wristwatch manufacturers, but swatch was so much more than that.

 

 

You cant sell news stories that have data and cautious predictions. Where is the panic? Where is the impending doom? C'mon people , give me something to work with here…

    Opinions / Science / Theory of Relative Ignorance  

Watch the Swatch - Modular Moda

When I was an industrial design student, back in that old millennium, swatch was the holy grail for young designers.

Everyone wanted to work there for a year or so. At least one of my classmates is still working there for over a decade now. It might seem strange that students in the most prestigious of design centers, Milan, are looking up to a Swiss cheap plastic wristwatch manufacturers, but swatch was so much more than that.

Swatch was the industrial designer's wet dream for two reasons. First, it was an example, nay, a school of good industrial design, and in industrial I mean real industrial manufacturing line, that is both smart, effective, with high standards and low cost. Real industrial design. Not the one-off artistic "design" things you find these day. mass production. Well, after all it was a Swiss company. Accuracy, standard and effective finance is on their flag.

The other side of the coin was the fact that the swatch was born for design. It was desgined as a modular watch, that can be adjusted and changed in an easy process that creates as many variations as you want, with different pieces of the puzzle who all fell into place in perfect swiss precision. You could design fifty different swatches without having to change more than one step in the production line.

Gentlemen, synchronize Swatches!

So it was both impressive as concept and in realization, and it was versatile to allow numerous designs, textures, colors, and even materials. I myself wore the 'irony' watch for a couple of years (when I was still wearing watchs. You know, before I realized time is just an illusion). It was a swatch, but of metal and a leather strap. It had that clean swatch simple look I still find superior to more fancy ones.

I never liked watches, and even less people who buy watches. A couple of years ago I was acting as part time tour guide to a big client that was in town, and we stumbled upon an international watch exhibition and fair. I wouldn’t say there was nothing nice there, it was a very impressive fair, with unique metals incorporated in laser carved intricate designs and nuclear mechanisms that let you know that a thousandth of a second passed while you were thinking ' I wonder if a thousandth of a second passed already' to yourself. There were some very cool watches there.

But there was nothing under five thousand dollars, and even those were in the corner of some stand and I got a nasty look from the salesman when he saw me gravitate towards them. When my client almost bought a watch for seventy two thousand dollars (yes, seventy two thousand) I was ready to throw up. I left him there with some excuse or another and went outside for some fresh air and sanity.

That was the beauty of swatch. It was a democratic design. Like jeans. It was indeed a design object on all that it implies, the object of desire, a well thought product, but it was also very affordable. More than affordable, most people I know had at least three or four of them. That was the charm. That was the hook.

I am quite sure there are a lot of people around that have collected a double or even triple digit number of swatchs, as for many it became an obsession, like apple is today. Any announcement of a  new model of swatch coming out was exciting. Some models came out in extremely small limited editions. Hundred watches worldwide. Talk about hysteria…

I want to see more of that attitude. That's all I am asking for. Affordable unpretentious good modular design, for the masses.  And please make it fun if you are already at it.