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!