Draw Me a Watch
February 28, 2011 Stories

Draw me a watch…
Royal Oak - Design & Development
Royal Oak - Design & Development

The designer has a key role in the watch-making industry. Here’s a closer look a profession at the crossroads of art and science.


Creating a fine watch requires intense cooperation from every professional in the branch. The designer is essential in this process -- tracking new trends, sketching ideas, constructing the models, and supplying the blueprints necessary for a prototype. Unlike the artist, who is free to express his personal vision in his work, the designer must adhere to a set of specifications and reconcile esthetics with commercial goals and technical limitations.

“It’s all about teamwork,” says Octavio Garcia, artistic director for Audemars Piguet. “We work with the marketing experts as well as with the research staff. We keep our eye on the market, but we must also propose creative and novel approaches.” A complex juggling act, to say the least. Working on a tiny surface and faithful to the watch-brand’s DNA, the designer is constantly re-inventing him or herself in the context of a tradition that can go back for centuries. Inspiration comes from the world of watch-making, but also from other sources. “We’ve recently focused on car racing and on the chronographs of the 1930s and 1940s,” Garcia explains. “But art, fashion, and cinema can also contribute new ideas.”

It’s not enough to swim with the times. The designer has to anticipate future trends. Models are conceived two years before they go on the market, sometimes more if the project is experimental. “In addition to creativity and the ability to innovate, empathy is essential. There’s no room in this job for an ego. The designer must adopt the brand’s values while being aware of the demands of the market. There’s a real symbiosis between these two requirements, but that’s what makes the work so fascinating,” concludes Garcia.