The Design Intent of the Swiss Franc Watches

The overall look of the Swiss Franc watches can seem subdued.  However, that should not be confused with lacking in design intent, so I think it's important to share with you the process and rationale behind the Swiss Francs' appearance.

The watch crowd-funding space is full of "fashion watches" and design exercises, many of which are made overseas and sold for a low price. There's clearly a demand for these, and as an aspiring watch entrepreneur myself, I admire every single one of the project creators for their bravery and dedication in pursuing whatever it is that speaks to them. As a consumer though, it's not my taste, as I'm always left wondering: "is this something that will fit into my life a month, let alone decades, from now"?

Indeed, the risk with buying for novelty or fashion's sake is that both are fleeting!  I would never have embarked on this journey if I thought I was alone in that thinking, but clearly I am not.  The huge demand for vintage cars and watches shows there is an appreciation for things that were built not to be eye-catching at a point in time but rather to do a job faithfully and reliably over time, while acquiring an appearance that is unique to the owner's life and experiences with them.

THAT to me is good design.  I believe that form should follow function, and I purchase products for myself (some shown in the picture below) with the expectation that they should fulfill their purpose quietly in the background, for an indefinite duration with little to no risk of failure.

I'm also a trained engineer, with a tendency to value overbuilt capabilities. When I started researching a field watch to buy, I found those that only looked tough, and others that had great specifications in one area but in my view lacked elsewhere.

That prompted the following design intent:  

  • create a watch that consumers could wear for life, that was also relatively affordable
  • based on proven designs and concepts from watches that are references in their respective categories
  • manufactured as much in Switzerland as possible to make a statement that honest products still matter to consumers 

The Influences Behind The Swiss Franc Series

Those guidelines led directly to the Swiss Franc watches, which feature:

  • A dial adapted directly from the Benrus Type II. My thinking here was straightforward: if it was good enough for the US military, it would be good enough for my own watches (as well as provide ample surfaces on which to apply lume!).
  • Crown guards inspired by those on the Rolex Explorer II, which is built with mountaineering in mind.  In fact, there is no field watch that I know of which incorporates any crown guards, surprising given these watches are made for strenuous activities!
  • Liberal application of lume, influenced by every Seiko dive watch on the market, but curiously also absent to this extent from many modern field watches.   

Notice that neither of the first two watches I mentioned above are particularly "beautiful". These are brutes build to withstand the harshest of conditions, and to me (and those who seek out vintage Benrus II's!) that's always been appealing.

In fact, only once I was satisfied that I had a functional design did I work in the "twist" of the colored dials, which is meant to be an eye-catching juxtaposition of military strictness and modern sensibilities, to offer something a bit more lighthearted than the standard black you see so often on this type of watch.

In summary, the intent was to create watches that look handsomely reserved and that will endure your life and its adventures!

 

The Importance of "Made In Switzerland"

One aspect of this project from which I will never stray a millimeter is my commitment to have the Swiss Franc watches be as close to 100% Made In Switzerland as possible, rather than the ambiguous directives of the traditional "Swiss Made" label.

I've been asked "who cares?", usually followed up with "Just make this overseas and put a cheap Asian movement in it, and no one will care".

Well, I care.

This is about showing companies much larger than mine that the most dedicated of their customers, the ones who truly care about the heritage and craft of watchmaking, DO care.

Don't believe me?

Take it from an actual watchmaker commenting on one of my Instagram posts (from 02.15.2017):

"...I agree with your sentiments 100%. Those new ["Swiss Made"] regulations are purely ridiculous ...I checked out your homepage and I like what you are doing. Keep up the fight!"

We are in the minority, but since when has a paradigm shift come from the status quo? It takes a particular type of stubborn, persistent, passionate person to care about such a cause, especially when it is not immediately signaled by the watch itself.

If you found this website and read this post, it's likely you're part of that small, self-selecting group.

Make no mistake, by reserving a watch or just passing the message along, you're supporting honesty in business generally, and transparency in an industry that has long had a reputation for working behind a shroud.

Will you join me?