Pico featured Autodromo’s Bradley Price, a watch maker from Brooklyn.
Price on watch design:
I agree. People focus so much on the movement, and they don’t think enough about the other aspects of why a watch is beautiful or special. People get so fixated on specs and not on what is special about these watches as a thing.
That frustrates me a little, because I put so much into the rest of the watch. I don’t have the wherewithal to develop my own movement, as many watch companies don’t. In fact, 98 percent of watch companies don’t have that wherewithal.
Let’s focus on the case finishing, the design of the case, the design of the dial, and the concept. What is the watch trying to say? What is the meaning of the watch? What’s the emotional content? I don’t ever see people internet forums discussing those types of things.
About the Apple Watch:
OM: What do you think about the Apple watch, the concept of it?
BP: It’s beautiful. As someone who designs consumer electronics and watches, the more I looked at it the more impressed I was. It’s got Marc Newson’s fingerprints all over it.
It’s clearly something he designed rather than Jony Ive. It’s funny they announced he was working with them after the watch. But to me that was the Apple way of underhandedly giving him credit for the design without actually saying he designed it. But it seemed to me very Marc Newson.
OM: Why do you say that?
BP: The most obvious giveaway was that the rubber strap had the exact closure method that the Ikepod had. But the way the strap integrates with the case is so him, this sort of inflated square.
Now, obviously any designer could do an inflated square. But Marc Newson’s Ikepod watch is a really influential design. I certainly have been influenced by it. If you look at the Monoposto [Autodromo’s first automatic watch], they’re that sort of bowl-like case. There was a little bit of that Newson flavor in that watch, even though it’s not a modernist watch per se. The Apple watch certainly is in that idiom, a lot like his other work.
More on Apple’s design philosophy:
OM: Those companies all go to design experts and designers. And then they design the device. This is so different from what Apple does, where engineering and design are in sync and ultimately guide the product. The design can leverage the gains from system-level engineering, and vice versa. I find they have a different view of thinking in products — of vertical integration.
BP: Then all these companies would be like, “We want to be like Apple” or “How can we even more be like Apple” or “We want a product like Apple’s.” I don’t know if it’s still like that, but this was five or eight years ago and Apple could do no wrong. But the thing was, they weren’t looking at the whole process. They were just looking at the end product. They weren’t looking at how that product got to be that way.
The key things that Apple does, aside from what you’ve mentioned, is that the decision-making is a lot more autocratic, and it’s a lot more direction given from specific important people that are tasteful, thoughtful people. That informs the whole world. It’s not just a bunch of middle managers and committees and stuff. You have one guy who was like “This is good or bad” and “I like this” or “I don’t like this.” That’s hard to replicate, but that’s what makes something great versus just OK. You need that person to be the arbiter.