2020年12月9日  |  Column

We have all the time in the world

Since I was little I always know that my wrist is rather small, and I hardly uses watch growing up because they would highlight how skinny my wrist was (and still is).

Although recently I have been growing myself to several watches design. There was a time when I love a rather modern or avant-garde design, as much as my other design taste at that time. But over the past few years, as my taste changed (and perhaps matured), I have grown to love a more traditional, and a simple classic design, my preference on watches design also reflect that change.


Let’s talk about fashion watches first

In the recent years, there’s a boom of “fashion watches” that emphasized on style and and attempted to introduce that classic feel, however there’s something that just didn’t feel right. I guess it is not just a personal opinion but also the opinion of many watch enthusiasts, for example two of the most famous “fashion watches” in the recent years: Daniel Wellington and MVMT took the most criticism by many watch enthusiast.

Daniel Wellington seems to be attempting to bring in the Scandinavian design charm into it but there’s something that doesn’t feel right with its size, scale, and build quality; something that the watch enthusiast would often point out how it is manufactured cheaply and it relies on celebrity endorsement to raise its hype and reputation, and boy they did it successfully!

On the other hand, I personally enjoy some of MVMT’s modern-classic design,  generally they look really stylish on purely visual design perspective, but again there’s something left to be undesirable with it’s build quality, something is like telling you, when they hype is over you’d leave it somewhere on your drawer, or maybe the watch might fall apart even before the hype dies down.

Other than those two brands, there are also numerous other “fashion watches” brands, sometimes even produced as an offshoot of an already established fashion brands such as Fossil, Agnès b, and many others all with varying level of quality in look and build quality. But, personally I think that the design of a watch goes beyond than just its look (which depends on people’s preferences) and its build quality (depends on the manufacturer design decision), but also the story of the watch itself, in essence, the reason for the design execution, that had made several watches, a tool to measure time, to be truly timeless.


My personal design style

I prefer myself a good classic analog timepiece (although there are some digital watches that I personally enjoy too), not exactly the luxury brands and it doesn’t have to include a complex mechanism inside. I would prefer something that has a subtle look, instead of highly decorative watches that screams high price, in my watch language simple is best. Due to my skinny wrist I avoid metal belt as it gives volume around your wrist that made it look somewhat disproportionate, brown leather strap is my choice most of the time but black and other subtle color that match the case design are also acceptable. The watchface design, dial, and other elements are also preferably minimal, clean, and without distraction, unless they are a chronograph. The following are some of my personal favorites, I don’t necessary own them, and some I simply liked the design and perhaps would be unable to wear due to the gap between the case size and my wrist size.


Junghans Max Bill
Junghans Uhrenfabrik is a German watch brand that was established in 1861, One hundred years later in 1961 Junghans released a watch designed by Swiss architect and designer Max Bill. With his heavy Bauhaus influence,  Junghans Max Bill design is a true Bauhaus design classic. Its minimalist case dons a white-based watchface and a beautifully designed dial and number typography under a domed glass cover, with its dial, crown, and pusher (in Chronoscope model) are precisely scaled. Invoking the feel of German industrial design the metal finishes of the case, and the muted color of its leather watch straps seems to be naturally fit to each other, such is a masterfully designed modern watch.


Timex Marlin Reissue 34mm
Timex is one of American timekeeping company that has a long heritage and quality to its name, although recently it has been slightly waned in the eyes of many watch enthusiast, Timex still holds better value than contemporary “fashion watches” brands.
One particular model that is especially beautiful in my eyes is the Timex Marlin Reissue 34mm, it is a call back to the classic 1960s Timex Marlin design with several adjustments. Several watches enthusiast would prefer the original 1960s design but I wouldn’t mind with this reissue. It is a hand-winding watch meaning you’d have to wind the watch daily to keep it running, which complements it’s classic design. The small 34mm case size means it’s perfect for small wrists and it has a beautifully designed glossy metalic casing, its black watch dial on top of brushed silvery-goldish base feels elegant with its typography that I personally think feels more like 1920s than 1960s. It came by default with a black faux-crocodile pattern leather strap which is weirdly long, thus some (including myself) would prefer to have it replaced with a better strap either in black to resemble the original design or brown leather that looks equally elegant.


In the era of Apple Watch and many other Android smart watches, I would rather prefer to have an analog smart watch. Yes it might be less “smart” than the former smart watches. But to think of it this way: Apple Watch and other smart watches are gadget first, watch second, meaning when its OS is no longer updated, all you have left is this gadget that feels obsolete not only gadget-wise but also as a watch; an analog watch with some smart features on the other hand are watch first, gadget second, therefore when it is no longer supported it still function like a regular watch, a still rather cool watch to wear.
There are many analog smart watch on the market, but the Swedish smart watch Kronaby took the crown for me (pardon the pun). Compared to other analog smart watches brand, this one is less well-known but it was built from the ground up and developed together with its companion app. Kronaby also fare well in the design faculty, that although it is a bit bulky (a common traits of smart watches) it is manage to trim that bulkiness really well, and even with my small wrist Kronaby Sekel with 38mm case doesn’t seems to be bulky at all. The design varies and generally the watchface resembles a chronograph to accommodate the smart features (although there are some design without these chronograph features on the watchface, albeit less possible combination of features as a trade-off). The watch came with a high quality strap rather than the misleading “genuine leather” strap it is is rather thick.
Being a smart watch, the crown, pusher, chronograph, and watch dial could be customized to contain “smart” features of your choice from your smartphone application. Just like Apple Watch and Android smart watches, this one could also take your photos, control your music, invoke your personal assistant, ring your smartphone when you lost them, and many more.


Seiko SNK803
On the first glance this chronograph watch doesn’t feels too much interesting. It’s a military-styled chronograph watch on a small case, and fabric strap. The SNK803 particularly has a beige color that again made it seems to be rather dull. However as I have seen some customization out there from several watch enthusiast, when one replaces the original beige colored fabric strap to a brown (preferably darker shade) leather strap, suddenly the watch seems to emanates a certain class. There is something about the combination of the dark brown leather, the silver watch case, and the beige watchface that it creates a beautiful gradation of color. Complemented with its thinly lined dials that despite of it being a chronograph, it doesn’t scream for attention but feels like a wise friend that could advice you you direction (in the matters of time) when you need them.


Casio F-91W
The most famous digital watches in the world, it cost less than 10 dollars, it is worn both by Obama and Osama. This is the watch that popularized mass-produced quartz watch that changed the game for watches industry. Its low cost means a cheap plastic construction, but it is hardly feels so, except the watch light that illuminates only a small part on the left hand side of the LCD.
Design-wise the watch is good but not that great, however due to it’s low cost, it encourages people to be creative with the watch and designed numerous custom design. Two of my favorite custom designs are: the all black design where one removes all the unnecessary graphical element of the watch  and painted the rest in all black (some even reversed the LCD color to further blackened the screen area); and the other one is simply what I had personally customized myself is the F-91WG variant (black base with gold-lines graphical elements and yellow LCD) with it’s LCD replaced to a regular white LCD of the original F-91W.


This is an extra. Mondaine is the official Swiss railway timekeeping brand. Though the topic is about watch, but I personally prefer the wall mounted clock with almost identical design with the watch. It’s minimalist design also invokes the Bauhaus design feel, but with a bold statement that is really Swiss with its black dial and watch hands, with the exception of the second-hand in red color with a circle at its end. It feels not only smart, stylish but also charming and personally I find it cute. Cute in a Bauhaus way.