A Whole New Meaning to “Quartz Watch”.

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The UnconstrainedTime Crystal watch featuring natural quartz crystals vs. the usual meaning of “quartz watch” (which is a tiny crystal of quartz used to precisely measure time and thus keep the watch accurate).

The original meaning of the term “quartz watch” came about in the ’60’s when Swiss watchmakers developed methods of using the precision of a vibrating quartz crystal to make dramatic improvements in the accuracy of wristwatches. Switzerland had become the leading center for watchmaking due to the fact that they continued that industry during the second world war when similar traditions in the rest of Europe changed to military production.

The irony is that, despite the first quartz watches being developed by Swiss companies, the decision of the Swiss watchmaking industry in general to refuse to use the new, more accurate, technology and instead remain with mechanical watches, caused the “Quartz Crisis” in the ’70’s which was the major decline in the Swiss watchmaking industry, reducing the number of Swiss watchmaking companies dramatically.

Watchmaking instead moved to Asian companies who were willing to embrace the new improved technology.

Digital watches actually preceded quartz watches, with small numbers of mechanical digital wristwatches showing the time in numerals (rather than watch hands) appearing from the 1920’s. The appearance of electronic digital watches coincided with the Quartz Revolution in the ’70’s and introduced the space-age aesthetic to watch design.

Watches mainly polarized to one or other of the two camps, with mechanical watches, usually made in Switzerland, contrasted with the space-age aesthetics and seven-segment displays of electronic watches. The prices were typically polarized long these lines as well, with digital watches inhabiting the cheap end of the market and mechanical watches usually being costly. Quartz watches with traditional displays were somewhat in the middle, following the fine-jewelry design but typically being mass-produced (with far fewer moving parts than a fully mechanical watch) and not having the high prices and exclusivity of mechanical watches.

The aesthetics of watches were almost entirely determined by the two ends of that polarization, with mechanical watches mostly inheriting the aesthetics of the jewelry determined by the traditional materials and processes from jewelry and locksmiths. Digital watches were (disregarding the few mechanical digital watches), from the start about new materials and aesthetics, with the very first electronic digital watch designed with concepts from the futuristic digital clock created for the “2001” movie.

Since then, there has been little real innovation in watch aesthetics, with almost all watch designs either being in one or the other of the above two camps or a fairly obvious cross-fertilization between the two and only very minor influences from other areas.

Until now.

The UnconstrainedTime range of watches use a simplified display concept to break from either tradition, instead using the art-jewelry concepts of creative exploration, pure aesthetics and non-traditional materials to innovate a radically new direction in watch aeshetics.

One of the UnconstrainedTime watches, the “Crystal” watch, uses twelve natural quartz crystals as the main feature of the watch design, held in a ring inspired by the organic inter-twining shapes of tropical tree roots.

The constraints on the two previous camps of watch aesthetics can be seen as being mainly due to the domination of the display functionality on the watch, with mechanical watches inheriting materials and techniques from the fine-jewelers and locksmiths that began their industry, and digital watches sticking fairly close to their 70’s space-age beginnings.

One of the factors that made sense of the simplification of time-display by UonconstrainedTime is the fact that mobile phones and tablets display precise time and have other chronograph functions like alarms, thus making it a more obvious option to use a watch primarily as an aesthetic statement and making its time-display function somewhat secondary.

Having said that, now the UnconstrainedTime project has shown the possibilities of aesthetics unrelated to either of the existing watch design traditions, as with the radical concepts from top fashion designers, other designers will certainly take influences from this new direction of art-jewelry watch aesthetics.

Watches such as the “Crystal” watch can be seen as putting aesthetics first which is the polar opposite of functionality as main influence on previous watch designs. This parallels the difference between art-jewelry which is exploration, creativity, aesthetics, compared to fine-jewelry which is traditional materials and techniques which originally enabled functionality.

Presenting the UnconstrainedTime Crystal Limited-Edition Touch-watch (click here to bid for this watch) :

(if you don’t see comments below, click here and you will :)

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