In my previous post I explained how the Techné Goshawk wristwatch has a ‘neo retro’ design that is based on two 1940s aircraft cockpit clocks made by the American watchmaker Elgin:
Now I want to highlight four small, but important design decisions that Francis Jacquerye took when creating this watch. These decisions give an indication of how talented a designer he is.
Before we do that, though, here’s a close-up of the Goshawk’s gorgeous watch face:
Now, on to the design decisions…
24 hour dial is optically centred
If you look closely, you’ll notice that the 24-hour sub-dial in the 9 o’clock position isn’t in the exact horizontal centre of the main watch dial. Instead, it’s been ever so slightly raised. That’s because it’s been placed at the ‘optical centre’ (blue line) of the watch dial, not the ‘mathematical centre’ (red line):
There are two reasons for this.
First, the shape of the Arabic numeral ‘9’, which is the most dominant element in that sub-dial, has more optical weight in the upper part of the glyph. Had Jacquerye placed the 9 right in the centre – like he has with the 3 (which is a horizontally symmetrical shape) – the 9 would have looked a little low. So, to make this look more balanced, he raised the whole dial ever so slightly from the mathematical centre to the optical centre.
Second, there are three elements within the main dial:
- the 24-hour sub-dial,
- the Techné logo, and
- the date window.
The ‘Techné’ line in the logo has its baseline set to the mathematical centre of the dial (the red line). But, because that logo has more weight above the line than below it, the 24-hour sub-dial needed to be moved up slightly to help balance those two elements with each other.
Had the sub-dial been left at the mathematical centre, it would have looked out of alignment with the logo. So, instead of moving the logo lower – which would have made both elements appear a little below centre – Jacquerye moved the sub-dial up ever so slightly.
Date window is balanced with other elements
Something similar has been done to the date window between the 4 and 5 o’clock positions, with the window having been nudged slightly closer to the 5 o’clock hash mark:
The date window works better here because, in this position, it looks more balanced in relation to the sub-dial and logo. One way to think of this is that the weight of the sub-dial has pulled the date window a little more clockwise from where it may have otherwise been positioned.
Had the date window been centre aligned between the 4 and 5 o’clock hash marks (as shown on the left, below), it would have looked a little out of place – and also a little boring. It looks much better slightly off centre (as shown on the right, below):
Date window has a white outline
In one of the reviews of this watch, the reviewer complained that he didn’t like the white outline around the date window. I actually think that’s a super important part of the design.
Without that outline, the date window wouldn’t be prominent on the dial. And its importance as a design and information element would have been diminished.
You can see this for yourself if you look at that window without the outline (as on the left) versus with the outline (as on the right):
The style of the crown is similar to the original
Finally, one of my favourite design details on this watch is its crown which, as you can see, follows the design of the original Elgin clock’s winding knob:
There are a bunch of other things I love about this watch’s design, of course – everything from the typography, to the shape of the hash marks, to the 24-hour hand being half orange – but those elements are more obvious to everyone, I think.
What I wanted to do here was highlight the smaller things – the attention to design detail – that so impressed me when I first saw this watch. So hats off to Jacquerye from making such an excellent and well-designed timepiece.