How you interpret something is down not just to angles, materials, or color, but how those things combine in the context of your own life to result in a deeply personal reaction to an object that can not really be predicted. The manufacturer may start the process, but in the end, the fashion and function in luxury watches is entirely decided by you, the wearer.
A Proven Way to Determine Fashion and Function in Luxury Watches
The intangible niches of design cannot be expressed in words. It takes a good deal of touch and experience to strike the balance between a trend and a classic. Fortunately for watchmakers the world over, there exists a school of thought that makes realizing this tricky harmony a little easier.
The Deutscher Werkbund was a group of artists, designers, and even scientists, who believed that the design of an object’s form should always follow its function. These days the philosophies of the Werkbund are better known by the name of the Bauhaus School, founded by the group in 1919 in an attempt to refine their principles even further.
‘Bauhaus’ design simply looks right, it doesn’t include anything wild, it just focuses on the function in luxury watches. Because all objects have their form dictated by their utility, there is an organic symmetry to everything, even though the items themselves can appear block-ish and industrial.
While many watches could be said to be following these principles by virtue of having a function at all, true restraint is rare, and perhaps has something to do with the enduring popularity of the Patek Philippe Calatrava. The pictured model retails for $21,500 and is an excellent example of form following function in a pure and minimalist fashion.
Can a Watch’s Design Appease all Eras?
When it comes to fashion, the idea of timelessness is sometimes hard to pin down: Due to the industry’s transient nature, an aesthetic relevant in multiple if not all eras should be impossible, but I don’t believe that to be the case.
The root of this belief comes from an appreciation of tried and tested forms seen in watchmaking. The pieces that have endured over the years are adhering to a utility-led design principle, even if that’s not immediately obvious. Take a look at the Jaeger LeCoultre Reverso, for example. Hailed as an Art Deco masterpiece, one would not immediately link it to Bauhaus philosophies, but it absolutely does. For around $25,000 the price of owning the pictured icon (the Reverso Tribute Duoface) in the worlds of watchmaking and fashion is not as high as you might think.
Creativity with the absence of garishness can be devilishly difficult to get right, but IWC have succeed with their Da Vinci model, made more comfortable thanks to its articulated lugs – another example of form following function in an unexpected and atypical way. The pictured model retails for $6,400
So when it comes to longevity in fashion, it is core design principles that dictate success, rather than a simple stylistic shortcut.
When you remove the superfluous, you are left with the bare bones of operation. With no embellishments to hide the execution of the craft, there is nowhere to hide. These stark, honest, consciously assembled designs are the ones that can sidestep trends, and avoid obsolescence through their inherent excellence
About the Author
Fell Jensen is a Swiss-trained watchmaker working as an industry analyst.