Everything is "designed" these days. Hotels, cars, mobile phones, you name it, and somewhere along the line, established brands will hire a rock-star designer to inject a bit of pizazz and hype into their products. A surfeit of brands using stellar product designers such as Philippe Starck, Karim Rashid and Marc Newson has emerged and watches have been the staging point for the design invasion.
German appliance maker Braun has a lofty reputation for making even the most mundane of things look good. Legendary product designer Dieter Rams instilled Braun with a functionalist design aesthetic that can still be seen in its watches today. The Braun BN0035 won the prestigious Red Dot Award as well as the iF Product Design gold award this year and it's not hard to see why - the watch maintains the balance between simple design and complicated features wonderfully. The timepiece features a chronograph, water resistance to 50 metres and a date function. The black stainless-steel case measures 40mm and houses a quartz movement. The bulk of the dial face is taken up by the chronograph subdials, but there is also a date window at the four o'clock position. The Braun BN0035 is available in two colour variations, with the black dial version (top right) priced at HK$2,680, which is slightly more than the white dial version.
Those tricksy Swedes at Ikea have convinced the world that we really do need "designed" bins, chopping boards and garlic presses, and now an expat Swede is doing the same with watches. Hong Kong-based brand Void is the brainchild of David Ericsson. After the success of Void V01 and V02, Ericsson has launched the imaginatively titled V03 and V03A (top, centre in gold steel), which are radical departures from the blocky and metallic watches the brand became known for. The V03A is more orthodox in shape, with a round 38mm case in stainless steel, but the central focus is still on the design of the dial face, which has two concentric rings outlining indices for minutes and hours in a clean and indelibly Scandinavian way. The movement comes from Japan and the watch also has a date indicator. The main feature, however, is the alarm function, which is always a joy on analogue watches. The alarm is operated by the push button above the crown and is indicated on the dial by the fourth arrowed hand. The Void V03A is priced at HK$2,600.
Another Hong Kong-based brand, Boat, has perfected the art of keeping things pleasingly simple, with a watch made of sealing wax. Boat is an acronym of Be Optimistic And Thankful, and the brand is all about positive vibes. This timepiece has a stainless-steel case measuring 39mm and comes with a leather strap, but the added bonus of the Boat brand is the high level of customisation, which allows you to choose the strap colour, the case colour, a dial design with or without numerals and, of course, the colour of the sealing wax, with options from the rather boring white to funky blues and oranges. The Boat watch (top left) is priced at HK$650.