How to Design a Watch

August 29, 2017

How to Design a Watch

An interview with Co-Founder and Watch Designer Anneke Short

This week, Communications Coordinator Christina sat down with our co-founder Anneke Short to discuss all things watch design, inspiration and future plans for Camden Watch Co.

How did you get into designing watches?

I’ve always been creative, from writing poems to making ‘perfumes’ for my family at Christmas, I was always working on one project or another.

Then when I was 14, I moved out to Switzerland with my family, I finished secondary school out there and happened to go to the open day of the prestigious ‘Ecole d’Art Applique’ in La Chaux-de-Fonds and from the second I stepped inside I was hooked. I was like a kid in a sweet shop, from clay modelling to life drawing to gold-smithing this school had it all.

I applied for the Jewellery course and I was accepted. It turned into somewhat of a love affair for me, and although I really loved the ‘making’ of the course, what I really enjoyed was the ‘designing’. When I finished school, I went on to do an internship with a renowned Swiss watch designer, and when my internship was over, they hired me full time.

I never looked back.

Jewellery Design La Chaux-de-fonds
Jewellery designer Anneke Short

What drove you and Jerome to found The Camden Watch Company? 

It actually began as a way to showcase what we did as a watch design studio. The world of watch design is a very secretive one, and we needed a way of showing off our skills. So we decided to launch our own brand as a way of flexing our design muscles and of really getting to know the A-Z of the watch industry.

With this idea in mind, we were able to create the watches we wanted to design, and that were thought through every step of the way. We weren’t constrained by marketing strategies or investors, we were just doing something that we loved.

Something about that struck a cord with people, because here we are three years and two shops later, still going strong and still growing month on month.

Watch designer desk from above

Walk us through your design process: Where do you start and what follows?

It always involves a lot of research. I usually start researching machinery and architecture, either around Camden or from the Victorian period in general. Then we start sketching out different ideas, refining them as we go.

Some watches start with something solid like a old Victorian train wheel (like for the No.253), other times it’s more of a feeling that we want to get across, (like with the No.88 Tom Sayers Edition). We very strict about ensuring that everything fits together and sits well side by side. We already turned down ideas because they just didn’t quite fit and our brand is all the stronger for it.

Does the aesthetic or technical part come first when designing a watch ? Are there any constrains when designing a watch?

They come together hand in hand. Sometimes an idea will inform the technical side of the watch, as was the case with the wire lugs of the No.88, sometimes the technical element of a watch will change the way we approach the design, for example the tapered case of the No.29, meaning it’s a large watch but that doesn’t feel bulky.

As for constraints, there are lots; size, cost, movement capacity, I could go on. Overall, we want our watches to be as wearable as possible, so you need to make sure that they are comfortable and sit nicely on the wrist, knowing at the same time that everyone’s wrist is different and what is comfortable for one person might not be conformable for another.

Watch and watch design in background

Which design are you the most proud of and why?

That’s a tough one, and I feel as though I change my mind every week. I love the Northern Lines, and the classic Steel 88 on a tan strap is a firm favourite of mine, but I have to say I’m proud of them all. We wouldn’t produce anything that we weren’t 100% proud of creating.

Are there some exciting projects coming up for The Camden Watch Company?

Absolutely, we have big plans for the coming months. Notably, we’re about to launch a crowd-funding campaign for our first collection of Automatic watches. Up until now, The Camden Watch Company has focused on quartz watches only - which I love, they allow you to create great products at an affordable price and they are extremely precise, but there’s something magical about automatic watches. 

As someone who’s been obsessed with clockwork since childhood, I can’t wait to get this range underway.

watch design desktop

automatic sketches

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