Vittoria Street, Birmingham, 20th March (vernal equinox) 2014
Vittoria Street, in Birmingham's Jewellery Quarter, is an important place for modern English watchmaking. On one side of the street is Cookson's, where we get our gold laser sintered watch cases made. And directly opposite is the School of Jewelery for the Birmingham Institute of Art and Design (pictured). As far as I know, it's the only place in the world you can get an degree in watchmaking. I visited there a couple of weeks to talk to the students about our approach to watchmaking.
In terms of actually making watches, they probably know as much about the topic as I do. So there was no need to talk about that. Instead, it turned into a discussion of what watches should do, and why, particularly in the face of other devices such as smartphones. I continued to think about it afterwards, and some things are clear:
We are emotionally connected to our watches. Attractive shop windows contain watches, clothes, jewels or cars – not mobile phones or PCs.
Watches are ornamental. We wear them not just as information devices, but as part of our wardrobe and jewellery box.
Watches are traditional. Classic designs are cherished, and most users don’t want to stray far from traditional appearances.
Watches own time. You can find out the time from your mobile phone, but if you have a mobile phone and a watch, you’ll prefer to use the watch. Whatever else a watch tells you, it should tell you the time.
Watches must be easy to understand. You glance at your wristwatch. It must be readable in a microsecond.
Watches are for frequent access. Your wrist is your most accessible data source, your first point of contact with technology.
Watches are not for drilling down. A watch is perfect device for presenting summary information, allowing you to decide whether or not to find out more from your other connected devices.
Watches are one-way. In normal use, they give you information. Not the other way round.
Watches are not interactive. Users do not want to press buttons to get what they need.
Watches are reliable, eternal. Other technologies aren’t expected to last for long – they will be superseded soon enough anyway. Watches must be built to last forever.
Watches portray lifestyles. They tell people about who we are.