The Design Process Of A Watch

The typical setup of an established watch company always involves development of new products at the intersection of style, price and design. A watch is always designed based on what we call Dual Brand Attribute at Woodshores. The design must fit within a specific style, and it must fit within a specific price segment.

The Style Positioning is set on a map of five fundamental styles, that are each perfectly illustrated by the following brands: Industrial (Hublot), Conspicuous (Roger Dubuis), Traditional (Patek Philippe), Minimalist (Nomos Glashütte) and Professional (Damasko). There are two intermediary styles: Intense Chic, between Traditional and Minimalist (Rolex) and Instrumental between Minimalist and Professional (Hamilton Watch). Our comprehensive competitive review of 60+ representative watch brands is included in the Report on Dual Brand Attribute available on the payment portal.

Analysts have made various rankings of the price positioning segments, but our own version involves 6 segments that we separated into Low End, Low Middle End, Middle End, High Middle, High End and Master Watchmaking:
Price Segmentation, Copyright 2017 Woodshores ABWithin established companies, the Project Manager determines the Dual Brand Attribute in conjunction with the Creative Director and Sales Director, who answer for their respective field of expertise: style and price.

The Creative Director and Project Manager supervise the Industrial Designer to develop the Product Identity that matches this Dual Brand Attribute. One particularity of the watch industry (and the luxury industry in general) is that there is still a lot of manual labour involved. So unless the designer is very familiar with metalsmithing and leathersmithing processes, (s)he will have difficulties controlling how the design specifications impact on labour cost.

The designer typically uses sketching, vector editing (or bitmap editing) and 3D rendering to communicate ideas to the Product Manager and the Creative Director. In order to communicate with suppliers, the designer will release 2D or 3D modelling as well as Color, Material and Finish specifications.

Contrary to other industries, metal smithing and its goldsmithing subcategory have limited options when it comes to colour, material and finish.

Besides the gold alloy colours (from white-fish to intense pink), there are the pure white metals (silver, palladium and platinum), steel and alloys that develop an oxydation skin (titanium, aluminium, brass and bronze). All these natural colours can be artificially applied to steel, titanium or brass with electroplating or with ion-plating. Besides plastic, materials such as tungsten, tantalum, high-tech ceramic fibreglass composite and carbon composite have also been introduced in use for external parts.

Metal surfaces can either be polished, hairbrushed or sand-blasted, and the latter two come with a standard grain. It is not possible to choose a different grain because polishing is mostly done by hand and can by definition not be timed in seconds.

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