Though the connection is less prevalent than some of the other sources of inspiration we’ve discussed in this series, there’s a certain logic to there being parallels between architecture and watchmaking. Proper proportions, clever use of space and materials, and above all else, attention to detail is absolutely crucial when it comes to making or breaking good design, no matter if we’re talking about a new timepiece or the new luxury condo tower being built up the block. In a handful of cases we’ve seen these two worlds collide, as watch brands turn to some of their favorite architects and designers to pen a new creation with the intent of stepping a little outside the box in some form or fashion. In some cases these watch designs are inspired by pre-existing architectural creations, and in others their designs are penned by architects and designers themselves, bringing a unique and unorthodox approach to the world of watchmaking.
Inspired by Ergonomics
Originally penned by French architect and designer Marc Berthier back in 2010, and originally limited to only 173 pieces, the Carré H saw a rebirth of sorts at SIHH this year, as the brand tweaked the dial design, and increased its case size from 36.5 up to 38mm. Though its multi-textured dial design is quite charming, what really sells the Carré H is its minimalist squared case and unique interpretation of wire lugs. While its bezel comes to a fairly hard edge, the balance of its case and caseback features soft organic curves, including a slight curvature to the caseback from one lug to the other, allowing the Carré H to properly hug the wrist of its wearer. Other product design from Berthier over the years has danced a similar line between form and ergonomics, so it’s somewhat logical that he would dial this approach down from the macro to the micro.
Inspired by the Guggenheim
One of the more oddly named watches we’ve come across in some time, the Mido Inspired By Architecture takes its inspiration from the iconic Guggenheim museum. Its three dimensional dial mirrors the museum’s central skylight, where the ridges adorning its caseband speak to the horizontal lines created by its iconic interior spiral ramp. The decision to model this latest piece after the Guggenheim was not a quick one. The brand toured 12 cities over the course of 12 weeks, visiting 60 iconic monuments, and placing a call out to social media for fans of the brand to post photos of their favorite iconic monuments, tagging photos with #BeInspiredByArchitecture. All told over 100,000 participants were involved in the interactive campaign that led to the creation of this piece, which was limited to only 500 pieces worldwide.
Inspired By Simplicity
At NOMOS, every last watch to leave the brand’s manufacture is a perfect case study of attention to detail, so there is little surprise that at least one of their timepieces has been designed by an architect/designer. The NOMOS Glashütte Zürich was penned by the late Hannes Wettstein, and though it doesn’t stand out as particularly unique when compared to its siblings, there are ample details to appreciate in its design. A slight inward lean to its lugs, a faint protruding lip where the case meets the crown, and slender faceted hands all add interesting visual cues for those who admire things less obvious. The Zürich World Time was also the fine work of Wettstein, featuring the same case and hands, with the addition of a simply executed and easy-to-read world time complication favored by many as one of the better entry-level world time watches on the market.