Among watch designers, the watch dial is figuratively referred to as the “face” of the watch, such as when we say, “The face of this watch is pale,” or “The face is a bit fuzzy.” If we think of a designer’s job as being to beautify a product, then designing watches could be said to be like applying make-up to the face (dial). In this volume, Yuka Aihara from our Design Center Department talks about the concepts and priorities for designers when they design watch dials and how designs for each generation have progressed. (March 16, 2018)
Aihara joined our company in 2012. At first she designed Japanese domestic ladies brands of Seiko, such as Seiko LUKIA, but now she is on the design team of the “Seiko Premier” and “Seiko TRESSIA” brands for the global markets. The main models that she designs are the Seiko LUKIA “Lucky Passport” series.
Is Seiko LUKIA the face of Japanese? Each watch has a face all its own.
If you look closely at the dial that constitutes the center part of a watch, within the configuration you will find a variety of parts packed together to create a unique expression. The more you look the more you will see that it takes on a shape that is surprisingly like a human face. The “indexes” (markers to indicate the time) appear like “eyes,” and the hand that sweeps over them like “eyebrows.” Many Japanese domestic watches seem to have a Japanese-like face, while watches from overseas actually do seem to have more non-Japanese-like features.
Naturally, the facial features vary with the brand, and even within the same brand each face is distinctive with a character all its own. For instance, here we have four Seiko LUKIA watches all lined up in a row. I believe they all display Japanese-like facial features, yet among them you can find faces that are “cute,” “dignified,” and “sexy.”
Watchmaking techniques include rouge and eyeliner.
From a design perspective, there are many occasions when I feel that designing a watch dial is really like people applying make-up. For instance, we create a number of layers, and add a very slight gradation to the dial and this, much like a woman’s rouge or high lighting cosmetics, is intended to change the impression conveyed by the face (dial) to make it appear brighter and more flamboyant.
Take a look at the roman numerals printed onto this Seiko LUKIA (SSVW030). You will notice that the edges of the typeface have been dramatically overstated to stand out distinctly.
In technical terms these are referred to as “serifs.” This approach, I believe, is very much like someone using eyeliner on their lids when applying their make-up. In both cases, adding this line alters the shape. Now, if you compare this watch to one without serifs, don’t you feel that the face with the serifs has a more alluring look to it?