The Presage collection of cocktail-inspired watches was introduced in a previous article, “Our world consists of light and shadow.” The first collection was launched about 10 years ago and the watches have been selling well with almost no aid from advertising. From what kind of ideas was this collection created? How have they developed and for what reason are people attracted to them? The two designers Yumi Kasai and Masanori Kawamura exchange some imaginative interpretations about the mysteries of these designs. (October 9, 2019)
Kasai joined Seiko in 1988 and has designed watches for brands such as ALBA, CABANE de Zucca and ANA SUI. She is currently engaged in designing watches in a broad range of styles, including watches for the Presage and LUKIA brands.
Kawamura joined Seiko in 2013 and has been on the design team for Seiko brand watches destined for the European and American markets. Today he mainly designs products for the Japanese market.
The watch enjoying worldwide popularity for its distinctive sparkle.
Kasai: Today, we would like to talk about the collection of cocktail-inspired watches, which was launched in 2010, and the latest additions to this collection.
Kawamura: As you would expect from a watch inspired by a cocktail, the dial creates an alluring impression and sparkles brightly just like a cocktail. That’s one of the main features of this popular collection of the Presage brand.
Kasai: They have been selling for about 10 years with almost no aid from advertising. There’s an element of mystery about these watches.
Kawamura: This time we would like to unlock the secret behind these mysterious watches from a designer’s perspective.
Kasai: It was actually in 2017 when these watches were incorporated into the Presage brand. I have been involved in designing them since the renewal in 2017.
Kawamura: In July 2019, new models were added to the collection. I have been on the team since the design development of the new models.
Kasai: This collection of cocktail-inspired watches enjoys persistent popularity around the world even after more than 10 years since its launch.
Kawamura: Apparently there are fans outside Japan. One of the most popular models within the collection is the one with the ice blue-colored dial based on a cocktail called Skydiving. (SRPB43)
Kasai: With assistance from a number of representative bartenders of Japan, other models were also each referred to as the cocktails whose images their designs conjured up. In addition, the dial designs have playful touches, such as a second hand that looks like a muddler and indexes that look like fragments of ice broken by an ice pick. I suppose that’s one of the reasons for their popularity.
Kawamura: Regarding those indexes with ice-like shapes, if you look closely, the very first model from 2010 has two separate parts. This allows the dial to sparkle impressively.
Kasai: When comparing those two watches, I think the very first model is designed with a strong intent to make the entire dial shine vividly. Conversely, the later model has simply-shaped indexes and a large crown, creating a somewhat more classical impression.
Kawamura: Comparing the two, that’s certainly true. Which is the better is a matter of preference.
Kasai: To tell you the truth, the collection of cocktail-inspired watches has faced a lot of challenges in its design renewal. A problem with watches like the popular Skydiving-inspired model is that the lighter the dial color is, the more difficult it becomes to adjust the coloring. It is extremely hard to reproduce the same color as the very first model.
Kawamura: The theme of the latest models is the atmosphere of an authentic bar at midnight. The cocktails we imagine are in relatively dark colors, so the watch dials also have dark colors. This still required repeated trial and error, as the radiating pattern that creates the watch’s beautiful sparkle, the most appealing feature of this collection, was quite hard to produce.
Kasai: On the other hand, because our goal for the new models was to evoke the image of an authentic late-night bar where adults would get together, it was fun to broaden our imagination into a different world from that of the past collection.
Kawamura: That’s right. For example, the model SRPD36 inspired by a whisky-based cocktail, the Old Fashioned, has a molded dial based on the ice ball used in whisky. Also, the strap has a dark brown color that gives it a vintage feel, creating a mature looking design as a whole.
A one-of-a-kind watch created by combining conventional technologies.
Kasai: The most appealing feature of this collection is the molding that produces a radiating pattern on the dial. The combination of this molding and the box-shaped crystal enhances the effect of the light being reflected in a beautiful radial manner.
Kawamura: Right. Neither the radiating pattern molding nor the box-shaped crystal is new technologies, but it is interesting that their combination produces this transparent quality and vibrant light.
Kasai: Also, a type of processing called clear lapping is used for the dial, which I think contributes to the effect. In this process, a translucent paint is applied to the surface of the dial and then polished to a smooth finish. The synergy of the light passing through the clear lapping and the dial color achieves an exquisite tone.
Kawamura: Additionally, brush marks are made on top of the molding using a brush. I think this enhances the beautiful radiant effect.
Kasai: Various kinds of technology overlap in a multilayered manner, just like a cocktail. This is what creates the uniqueness and appeal of these watches, and brings delight to those who own them.
Kawamura: One other thing that intrigues me when looking at the design is the lug part, which connects the case and the strap. Generally-speaking, the lugs on a watch either extend down from the left and right edges of the case on a tangent, or protrude from the case to be parallel to the strap. Yet in the case of these watches, they fall somewhere in between. I suppose this also reflects the careful stylistic choices of the designer of the very first model.
Why does this collection keep selling so well?
Kasai: When it comes to the question of why this collection is selling so well, which is the main theme of this discussion, I’d say that above all else, the watch dials are vivid and have a compelling sense of enjoyment. I suppose these watches are enjoying success through having an image similar to that of dress watches.
Kawamura: The word cocktail is an easy-to-understand keyword, and this image is quite appealing even to people in their twenties. The watches also create a classical impression and go well with suits, while at the same time, having a modern design. I think that balance is another great aspect of these watches.
Kasai: The new collection launched in July has made it easy to change the straps. Being able to choose a strap according to the occasion adds an element of fun.
Kawamura: Just like that feeling that young people have when ordering their first tailored suit, I would like them to know the feeling of owning their first mechanical watch. On the other hand, I think these watches are playful and glamorous, so that people who already have standard watches might choose one of these as their second or third watch.
Kasai: Although the watches are quite glossy due to the effects of the box-shaped crystal and clear lapping, the ice blue color particular to a metal dial and the radiant finish give it a sophisticated air as a whole. Although it is glossy, it can be worn by all ages. I think it’s a very unique and unusual watch.
Kawamura: I often see photos of this collection on social media. I assume that the photogenic appeal of these watches is also one of the reasons behind their popularity. In this age when a watch’s ability to show the wearer’s personality is becoming an ever more important aspect, I am eager to create many more varieties of distinctive watches that meet such a demand.