What does your watch say about you?

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With such a vast number of different watch models to choose from these days, the choice of watch can say a lot about the person choosing it. Watches currently come in a very wide range of prices from a few dollars to well over a million dollars for a single timepiece. Most wealthy people now tend to have a selection of different watches for different occasions and to work well with different styles.

In the world of fashion and accessories, the choices made are sometimes assumed to be mainly about individual expression but in reality are usually more of a consequence of following whatever is marketed most effectively both in the media and on retail display.

One major change in recent decades is that there are now fashion choices available from a variety of different sub-culture styles unlike earlier in history when there was one main culture in each country with differentiations mainly by class within that culture. Having said that, there have been some strange inversions in the history of fashion with the upper classes wearing jeans (which originated as working-men’s clothing) when they get home to relax, and at the same time the working classes removing their jeans when they got home to replace them with emulations of upper-class attire.

In the aftermath of such style inversions as well as a general diversification of styles, quality is now more obviously determined by factors other than a particular style aesthetic, with expensive styles rapidly being copied into the low end of the market. It has been said that while fashions change rapidly, true style is timeless.

There are two main influences on watch-design aesthetics prior to this point: fine jewelry and 70’s space age. There is also cross-fertilization between the two such as 7-segment display in symmetrical polished gold case (but the gold is only gold-plate) or a modern style case in rugged-styled plastic with traditional watch hands (sometimes in addition to digital display).

The fine-jewelry style (going along with mechanical watch movements) has had a much longer pedigree and to a large extent still tries to reject the more recent aesthetics of the digital watch (although they were forced to accept the accuracy of electronic quartz timekeeping as that became available when their initial rejection of it nearly put them out of business). Digital watch style started firmly in the realm of space-age looks as the designer of the very first digital watch based it on the clock he had designed for the film “2001 a Space Odyssey”. Digital watch aesthetics have not evolved much beyond minor variations on that look, until now.

What do you think those two directions in watch aesthetics are really saying about the wearer? Can you imagine how a much broader range of watch aesthetics would enable a watch to be far more of a personal expression of style?

Fine jewelry relies on expensive materials and costly watches in this style often rely on difficult and complex mechanical construction to convey value, but there is a different measure of value in more recent times . . . for example a painting by a great artist might only cost a few dollars in materials but can be worth millions even though the painting techniques used are sometimes not sophisticated nor difficult in themselves.

Art jewelry arose along with the modernist art movement, rejecting traditional values and approaches and placing the emphasis on creative exploration and aesthetics as a focus rather than style as a result of other factors (such as mechanical function). The buyer of a piece of art jewelry is making a very different statement about themselves and their choices than the buyer of a piece of fine jewelry, whether they have fully considered this point or not, and this is true even if the fine jewelry piece is worth more money.

There is a very big difference between a limited edition piece fine art sculpture and a mass-produced ornament. There is the same difference between a piece of fine-art and a reproduction of the same piece, and this is still just as true even if the reproduction cannot be easily distinguished from the original. The difference in choices of buyers in the area of arts, says a lot about the person making the choice. Creative innovation is fundamentally different from mere copying.

Until now watches had not been significantly influenced by the art-jewelry approach, with the very few “art-jewelry” examples existing prior to this time being usually mere juxtapositions of some art-jewelry added around an existing fine-jewelry-style watch face. But all that has now changed.

The UnconstrainedTime watch series is almost certainly the first watch series with aesthetics based fundamentally on art-jewelry approach, and this is very obvious from the slightest glance at one as their looks and form are clearly based on a radically different approach from the any existing watch-design aesthetic.

While there have always been one-off hand-made designer fashion items, the concept of some aspects of the fashion item being chosen directly by the wearer has recently become more significant in the lower ends of the market as well, and this is becoming increasingly prevalent with technologies such as 3D printing.

The idea of unique custom-designed individually-made pieces very much fits with the art-jewelry approach, and this option is now available from UnconstrainedTime where a customer can order a single watch designed and made specifically for them. While unique watches have been available before (at much higher prices) the major difference is that with the broad range of possible aesthetics available for a genuine art-jewelry watch, a custom-design UnconstrainedTime watch will look obviously unique too and can be a much more real reflection of individual taste and style. An alternative choice is one of the beautiful timepiece models already available from this project, each available in an edition of just one hundred individual pieces.

The obviously dramatic change in direction of watch-design style by this particular creative time-piece project is a radical departure from existing directions but also an inevitable evolution embracing the development from fine jewelry to art jewelry. Revolutions both overturn the existing concepts and are a consequence of what has come before.

After this new direction in watch-design becomes familiar, the question might well be “why didn’t it happen any sooner?” The most obvious enabling factor for the UnconstrainedTime range, the innovative simplification of time-display, can be said to have been made realistic by the fact that people have, only in the last few years, had precise time, as well as other complications such as chronograph functions, easily available on their cell-phone (mobile-phone), thus freeing watch-design from the need to fulfill these needs. Another factor is that while most watches are designed by watch-designers (steeped in the traditions of the past before they begin creating their own designs) this particular range has so far been designed by a generalist with experience not in watch-design nor fine jewelry but in fine-art, experimental music, philosophy and a wide range of other areas.

So currently you can choose from an existing mass-produced watch in either fine-jewelry or space-age aesthetics (with combinations or minor variations on those) or choose a genuine piece of Fine Art which is part of the beginning of a whole new direction of watch design style and offers extraordinary aesthetics for a wearer who not only says they “want to be different” but is willing to actually do so in practice. What do you think an UnconstrainedTime watch says about someone who would wear one ?

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