Putting Watch Design First — With Junghans, Longines, And Cartier
Why do people wear watches when the time is everywhere? Because a watch is so much more than just a tool to tell the time. For me, watches evoke an idea of romance with their combination of beautiful design, technology, and the ongoing innovations that keep them relevant.
As a watch enthusiast, I always find myself checking others’ wrists (subtly, of course, as this can seem like weird behavior to a layperson). Once I spot a watch, I start thinking about the person wearing it because the watch can reveal a lot about that individual’s taste and lifestyle. A watch tells a story, and I love how it can reveal a glimpse of someone’s identity.
A case for putting watch design first
Design, design, design is, first and foremost, what attracts me to a certain watch. I think it has to do a lot with my background in architecture. When designing a building or space, you play with materials, textures, and light, and it’s all about finding balance and interest. In watches, I look for an exciting dial, the right dimensions and shape of the case, interesting materials or finishes, and so on. Sure, I appreciate an accurate movement or decent water resistance, but those are never my main focus.
As a collector, I also want diversity, and in having different types of watches, I see some overlap in terms of design. I like a strong and clean dial, vintage design cues (or true vintage), and a modest size to fit my small wrist. With three of my watches and their design, I want to dive a bit deeper into my collection and journey.
Junghans Max Bill
The first serious watch that I bought was the Junghans Max Bill. I wasn’t into watches yet and even got a quartz version because it was cheaper and easier. But the minimalist design immediately spoke to me. The watch derives from the model designed in 1961 by Swiss architect and graphic designer Max Bill. Bauhaus principles heavily influence design even today, and this iconic watch is no exception. The piece is rich in its simplicity with a clean white dial, printed line markers, and round luminous plots. This version has a date window that breaks the symmetry but reveals the beautiful numerals, especially the rounded 4, which was also designed by Max Bill. With the lack of a bezel, the watch is all dial, and the heavily domed crystal gives it depth and warmth. The black leather strap offers a nice contrast to the piece and makes it a true Bauhaus classic.
Longines Heritage Classic
A bit later in my collecting journey, I got the Longines Heritage Classic with a sector dial. The watch is a remake of a 1930s watch from the Longines archives and feels so contemporary and architectural in terms of its design. The sector style of the dial offers a play between various circles, materials, and textures. There’s the shiny silver outer ring against the matte off-white center that changes the way the dial looks depending on the lighting conditions.
Then you have the sub-seconds dial with a beautiful pattern of textured concentric circles. Black printed lines, numerals, and a crosshair give the piece a very strong graphic character, and it all feels very classy. Some people complain about the cut-off 6 numeral, but to me, it makes the piece more interesting and balanced. The blue pencil-style hands give the watch that little bit extra that makes this one a homerun.
Cartier Santos Galbée
The last piece and one of my most recent purchases is probably also the most “extra” watch in my collection. The Cartier Santos Galbée is a modern interpretation of the Santos that was designed in 1904 for the famous aviator Alberto Santos Dumont. This Santos is sporty but elegant at the same time and so versatile. The watch combines gold and steel in the case and bracelet with a beautiful guilloché dial and blue sword-style hands.
The Santos Galbée has a rectangular, slightly curved case. It also retains the classic square bezel, which I prefer over the more fluid bezel in the current Santos. The crown guards hug the blue-cabochon-set crown, a typical feature of Cartier watches. Even though a lot is happening here, the design is so well done and balanced. What else would you expect from a brand that is the pinnacle of iconic watch design?
A reflection of me
Although the three watches above are all very different, in my opinion, each of them exemplifies great, relevant design. They are all models from storied brands that still create iconic and influential timepieces. These watches reflect my style, my evolving taste (and budget), as well as my focus on watch design. Each one says something about me as a person. I’m already looking forward to my next watch, and I’m excited to diversify my collection with other well-designed pieces in the future. Thanks to Fratello for allowing me to share my watch story.
Find Jordi Stals on Instagram: @watchandfocus