by Seiko watch design

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Vol.8 Cuteness and progress. The design of Seiko h-timetron. Vol.8 Cuteness and progress. The design of Seiko h-timetron.

HomeDesign MuseumVol.8 Cuteness and progress. The design of Seiko h-timetron.

Targeting young people, What kind of new designs do we create?

The product development began in 1998. The project kicked off with the aim to develop a new brand targeting young people. At that time, the world was full of watches targeted at young people, including Seiko’s own watches. “Nevertheless,” recounts Tsunami Hiramatsu, one of the designers on the team, “we felt that it was still possible to create new designs, and there was a demand for a product with a high sense of new proposal. And what we determined early on was to target young people who have aspirations of becoming creators.”

The h-timetron launched in 1999. The design was created with consideration of two contrasting elements —affinity and a sense of technology.
As a result of discussions and investigation, it was decided to utilize a caliber with a dot matrix display. The characters are green to evoke the image of an old PC screen.
The design of the buttons on the sides creates a sense of affinity. Pushing the middle button on the right side of the watch changes the size of the characters displayed.

What kind of design can evoke
the Seiko image, while also being
something completely new
to the Seiko brand?

The product development started from the uncertain situation where the team members didn’t even know whether the watch was going to be analog or digital. The idea that they first decided on as a team was to make a watch that soothes people’s hearts, which was something rare for watches of that time. If this idea were restated in today’s terms, it would be a Yurui, or relaxed design. Nevertheless, they also considered that it was still necessary to show Seiko’s sense of technology and progress within the design. Then the team hit upon the concept of a design that has both technology and cuteness, like an instant camera.

Ideas for the tone of the design were shared among the team members based on the image of the instant camera proposed by the team leader. The designing process accelerated from that point.
One of the design sketches drawn in the product development phase. Since the project had a lot of flexibility, a wide variety of design sketches were presented, both of analog and digital watches.
A sketch of the strap drawn during product development. After investigation of various possibilities, it was decided to use polyurethane straps.

From a moment of nostalgia
for an old PC, the design work
takes off in one direction.

The design team drew sketches and verified calibers and other elements. One day, when Hiramatsu was looking at a dot-matrix caliber, the image of an old PC from his childhood days in the 80’s came to his mind. Setting that sense of nostalgia as the image goal, he and the team got to work on the design. The team pushed forward with work on the project, including the naming of “h-timetron”, the logo, packaging, goods, and promotion. It eventually became a project that involved not only the planning and design but also various activities that everyone wanted to do from beginning to end.

The letter “h” in “h-timetron” stands for happy. It represents hope for a prosperous future. The word Timetron was coined as an electronic-sounding word.
The kit provided to the press. It also included an original T-shirt. This kind of promotional effort also came from the ideas exchanged within the project team.
The product package was also developed by the team. This design also calls to mind the type of cardboard boxes in which PCs were packaged in their early days.

Embodying the dream of a prosperous future, the design brings a feeling of happiness to those who look at it.

What this product indicates is a prosperous future through technology. To achieve this, dedicated attention was paid to the details, including the green characters on the liquid crystal display and the look of the fillet (rounded) corners. Additionally, the color variations such as ivory, reminiscent of the body of a PC, gave these watches a distinct personality. The h-timetron enjoyed such popularity that a second model was launched the following year. The second model’s theme was space travel, with thoughts on the 21st century and the expectation that space would become even closer to us. About 20 years have passed since the launch of the h-timetron series. The product still exudes a general sense of hope for the future of humanity.

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