There has to be irony in the fact that Apple designers Jony Ive and Marc Newson — the minds behind the only credible threat to the watch-making world — are both avid mechanical watch collectors. At the Conde Nast International Luxury Conference earlier this week, Ive and Newson shared some of their thoughts on designing the Apple Watch and declared it shouldn't be compared to mechanical watches given the vast differences between the two products. And now we have video of the interview, conducted by Vogue's International Fashion Editor Suzy Menkes.
"Marc and I have collected mechanical watches for many years."
"When we started work on the iPhone, the motivation there was we all pretty much couldn’t stand our phones, and we wanted a better phone," Ive said. "When we worked on the Watch, the motivation was completely different. We happen to love our watches. Both Marc and I have collected mechanical watches for many years." Ive said that Apple didn't create the Watch because it believes it could do a better job than current watchmakers and instead pointed to the wrist as the next great spot for technology. "Very differently, it was because we saw that the wrist was a fabulous place for technology," Ive said. Marc Newson agreed. "The wrist is, and has always been for literally hundreds of years, one of the best places on the body to put an object."
When asked how the Apple Watch will handle the test of time, Ive pointed out that even mechanical watches need servicing, and the Apple Watch will likely be no different. "I hope the Watch will remain beautiful. The [mechanical] watches that we have required servicing. They don’t all work," Ive noted. "The product that I buy next week, it will be more capable and will do things that I cannot possibly imagine in just six months’ time. Now I think that’s extraordinary. I don’t know how we can compare these wonderful mechanical watches that we own and a product [Apple Watch] that has such a comprehensive functionality and capability that will grow and change beyond our imagining," Ive said.
"We saw that the wrist was a fabulous place for technology."
Hyperbole aside, the Apple Watch is bound to comparisons to mechanical watches for the foreseeable future. This is the first watch of many, not the watch that will last forever. While future Apple Watches may exceed our imagination down the line, a watch that cannot keep a full day's time under normal use is far from deserving of the language Ive used to describe it.
"The choice for gold wasn’t driven by some notion of a pre-determined price point."
Ive said there will be a number of different reasons people use the Apple Watch, from fitness, to staying connected, to the new ways to communicate with other Apple Watch users. But Ive believes the Watch will give people more confidence in their ability to reach out at any time to one another, even more than the cell phone has. "This is one of the first times that we can make some assumptions that somebody else has this product intimately connected with them for most of the day. You can’t make that assumption with the phone."
When Menkes questioned the design duo about Apple's growing reach in the luxury market, Ive noted that it didn't go with gold on the Watch to hit a price point, but because they loved the material. "The choice for gold wasn’t driven by some notion of a pre-determined price point. That absolutely wasn’t the reason we chose that material. We chose that material because we loved it," Ive said.
Apple's design chief said the company isn't intentionally competing with luxury goods and has been on the same path since its inception, to make technology more approachable. "What I know is that was not our intent at all. Our intent has remained the same and is consistent, which has been to try and take what is remarkable technology, in terms of its capability and its utility, and make it more and more personal. That’s what we’re trying to do."
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