27th November 2016
Mains of Kelly Farm
Spending the weekend at home, I decide to not go out for breakfast but instead opt for what may be the ultimate slow Sunday breakfast: sitting in a cosy farmhouse around the breakfast table with my family. Tainted with elements of nostalgia and reminders of more relaxed days it was exactly what I needed to end a week dominated by deadlines.
I am choosing to spend this weekend at home for a number of reasons, but as I flick my way through newspapers and social media I notice that being back in my small home town has helped me avoid the chaos that will strike Glasgow this weekend. Black Friday or Black Friday Weekend as it has now become sees an influx of shoppers upon Glasgow as well as all other major areas of commerce. This event - centred around consumerism - prompted me to share my thoughts on a topic which had been in mind for a while.
I focus this post around my watch as I believe it constitutes good design but also because it provided me with a very vivid and interesting consumer experience. I think it is crucial as a designer to be aware of the choices we make when buying a product and reflect upon these to deepen our understanding of value and design.
Given to me for my 21st birthday, my MONDAINE watch was the result of a process that I devoted a lot of thought to and presented me with numerous dilemma’s. I balanced the pre-conceived idea that a 21st present must be an expensive gift that prepares a boy for his journey into man-hood with my design instinct to buy something which I believed in and felt adhered to good design principles.
I was initially unsure of how to navigate this pre-conceived idea. Not a lover of expensive watches and un-educated in the vast watch culture that exists in our society, I began by asking myself “what should I look for in a watch”.
The first thing to do was put the price tag out of my mind and try to find both functional and emotional value within my choice. Admittedly my watch which preceded this purchase had been a poor buy in terms of these factors but what it had done was teach me that I had to look for longevity, legibility and humbleness in my next watch. This led me down the MONDAINE route.
Legibility is inarguable, with the iconic Swiss railway clock face, delivering the time at a glance while maintaining the elegance of a simple analogue face. With MONDAINE’s heritage, attention to detail and refined Swiss movement I believed it to also be a good purchase in terms of longevity.
This particular MONDAINE watch caught my eye as it appeared that just a little added care had been taken with every element during the design process. The domed underside of the watch - allowing it to sit more comfortably upon your wrist and making access to the crown much easier. The independent hinge, allowing the steel band to flow and react to the movement of the user’s wrist. The sapphire crystal face and obvious fixing screws on the reverse - giving the watch an engineered feel. Cosmetically the stark face paired with a brushed steel casing and delicate chain link band combine to deliver a watch that finds a good balance, appearing functional and discreet whilst maintaining an essence of elegance and luxury.
This balance that the watch establishes brings me on to an aspect of my thought process that I questioned at the time and still query when I think about my watch. Deciding upon this watch I found that I often convinced myself it would be a considered purchase because it found this balance across a variety of elements. The minimalist appearance allows it to be worn casually with a t-shirt while the material choices and finishes give it a professional appearance - complementing a shirt and blazer. The watch is recognisable to those who are aware of MONDAINE’s heritage and also as a piece of jewellery to those who appreciate it simply as an accessory. It’s price - £269 - takes it just out of the low end watch market but still remains well clear of the extortionate prices that one can pay for a watch.
I question whether finding this balance is good practice during the purchasing experience. I feel that the decision is a little lazy, as instead of meeting the desired criteria I convinced myself that it was a good purchase because it found a solution in this fuzzy area of compromise. Did the watch fulfil my desires or was I convinced by finding a happy medium? Is this good design? I still can’t pin a final conclusion on the matter but what I do know is that this watch caught my eye among an array and when I tried it on for the first time I could instantly feel the quality and comfort. If I have to live with the memory of a slightly lazy decision I can at least remind myself of this aesthetic experience and rely on the fact that value through experience is enough to warrant a product’s purchase.
As my desire for control is likely demonstrated in the above text, getting to cook my own breakfast this week was a pleasant change. Keeping it simple with poached eggs on a farmhouse loaf with the addition of cream cheese and chilli flakes - revisiting a dish that I hadn’t made myself in a while. Accompanied by nothing more than a cup of tea in my favourite mug and the local newspaper it delivered the nostalgia that I was looking for and reminded me of just how important home comforts can be.