As watch enthusiasts, we love to look back. We point at history’s legendary watch designers as the high priests of our shared passion. We are so focused on history that we may sometimes overlook today’s talents. Luckily, there still are gifted young professionals coming through the ranks. Today, I would like to put a little spotlight on three young(ish) watch designers whom I particularly admire. These are three designers that I feel should be on your radar as they might just draw tomorrow’s iconic watches.

Now, being a designer in an industry as mature as the watch world isn’t easy. The design language has largely been set for decades, making most designs iterative to some degree. Consequently, finding original solutions to design challenges is much harder than it is in newer fields. Still, I feel these three designers show that there are still plenty of possibilities. Let’s have a look!

watch designers Max Resnick

The watch designer of my choice: Max Resnick

Okay, you saw this one coming. I don’t think I would be credible if I did not start with Max Resnick. After all, he is the young watch designer I decided to hire for my VPC project. Max is an English designer who trained in automotive design before moving to watches.

When I was interviewing designers to bring my VPC Type 37HW concept to life, I immediately clicked with Max. The project started with him getting a feel for my taste and style. He asked me to provide as many pictures of art, design, and architecture that I love as I could. What struck me is how well he grasped my aesthetic preferences from that. He took my VPC concept and proceeded to significantly dial up the “Thomas-ness” of it. He seemed to just pull visual elements that were exactly to my taste out of his hat daily. It was almost eery to see him take my concept and make it feel more like me than I ever could.

watch designers Max Resnick VPC Type 37HW

To me, that signals real craftsmanship. If I look at his work, he isn’t trying to put some thick Resnick sauce over everything. He truly has a chameleon-like ability to blend in with his clients and work in their style. I challenged Max to find a neater solution to marry a case and bracelet. He proposed the curved ledge between the lugs that is now so characteristic of my debut watch. I think it was a stroke of brilliance that instantly provided me with an aesthetic hook upon which to build a collection over the coming years.

watch designers Marie Boutteçon Parmigiani Fleurier

Haute Horlogerie specialist watch designer: Marie Boutteçon

Marie Boutteçon is another particularly interesting younger (though experienced) watch designer. She operates on the crossroads between horological design, art, and métiers d’art. That is perhaps unsurprising if you know that her father, Jérôme Boutteçon, is a master of wood marquetry who currently works for Patek Philippe. Marie, then, has been exposed to high horology and, specifically, the métiers d’art since birth.

This is evident in her work. Marie typically designs high-end watches that include advanced decoration techniques, such as marquetry or complicated gemstone settings. She spent time working for Parmigiani Fleurier, designing custom versions for individual clients.

I have to stress how hard it is to design watches like this. You need a deep understanding and close cooperation with the craftspeople who will execute your vision. Watch design is always technical as much as it is aesthetic. But incorporating advanced crafts like this certainly doesn’t make it any simpler. Marie does it with a level of skill that makes the result look effortless.

watch designers Matthieu Allègre

The broadly skilled watch designer: Matthieu Allègre

Like Max Resnick, Matthieu Allègre is a young but experienced watch designer with a very broad skill set and style. At Fratello, we are most familiar with his work for CDMLEC brands Airain and Lebois & Co.

microbrand groups CDMLEC Lebois

These are projects that demand humility from a designer. If you are going to resurrect historic brands and designs authentically, you need to be willing and able to show restraint. You cannot go around and make big, sweeping signature statements. Your DNA as a watch designer must be incorporated subtly and proportionally. Matthieu shows how he has mastered this approach in the Lebois & Co chronographs. At first glance, they appear like faithful reissues of existing designs. Upon closer inspection, though, you will find many contemporary details and translations of the original ideas.

Matthieu’s designs strike me as focused. Most of the watches in his public portfolio share a simplicity and aesthetic directness. This is something that I tend to look for in any designer as it shows restraint and the power to make yourself subservient to your design.

Closing thoughts

Finding watch designers isn’t as easy as you may think. The best ones are usually hired by the biggest brands, and those tend to work with non-disclosure agreements. The “in-house” cult means that most watch brands aren’t keen to admit they work with external designers. As a result, many top designers are not allowed to showcase their best work. This goes for the three designers above as well. We only get to see the tip of the iceberg of what they do.

Still, it is great to see a younger generation make waves. Max, Marie, and Matthieu can all count impressive names to their clientele and former employers, and they all have great designs to their names. I, for one, am excited to keep following them and see what they add to the watch world.

What other young(ish) watch designers do you admire? Let us know in the comments below!

Featured image: Marie Boutteçon