You are currently viewing INTERVIEW: Accomplished Swiss Watch Designer Fabrice Gonet

INTERVIEW: Accomplished Swiss Watch Designer Fabrice Gonet

There are two sorts of profitable watch designers within the timepiece trade: these whose names are promoted, and people whose names are a bit extra discreet. Historically, the position of watch designer blended components of business design with artwork and let watchmakers and entrepreneurs do the remainder. Right now, we now have an more and more prolific inhabitants of entrepreneurial watch designers who search to each design and promote their very own work. Will probably be attention-grabbing to see how this new period of watch designer fares within the market, however in the intervening time, the normal watch designers and their roles behind the scenes led to among the biggest merchandise, even in case you don’t finally know who’s liable for the design.

In my travels to “watch land” in Switzerland, I’ve met a small handful of prolific designers who work primarily as freelancers for numerous manufacturers, and whose imaginations led to lots of right this moment’s most attention-grabbing and novel timepiece creations. One such individual is Mr. Fabrice Gonet, and I interview him right this moment. His identify has come up time and again in relation to most of the fashionable watch designs that I like most. Gonet is on the shy aspect in terms of talking – largely as a result of his native language is French. That stated, I’ve met with him numerous time at Baselworld and different watch commerce reveals in relation to most of the watches and ideas he has imagined over time. What excites me probably the most about this interview article is the truth that, in a single submit, you possibly can see so most of the completely different designs Gonet has give you over time, and also you additionally get a deep look into his thoughts.



A pure insurgent,Gonet blends conventional components of Swiss watch design and legibility with every part from utopian futurism to neo-modern bio-organic sleekness. One of many newest merchandise designed by him is the up to date model of the Ikepod Seaslug. As a design undertaking, this will need to have been a particular deal with as a result of the unique Seaslug was designed by Ikepod co-founder Marc Newson (who is mostly credited with the design of the Apple Watch). Ikepod’s present proprietor commissioned Gonet to reimagine the Nineteen Nineties-era Seaslug into one thing a bit extra fashionable (and reasonably priced) for right this moment. I’ll discover the Ikepod Seaslug watch in a special article, however it’s price mentioning that along with elaborate tourbillons and different problems, you will get Fabrice Gonet-designed watches for comparatively accessible costs. Manufacturers that Fabrice designed for pictured on this article embody TAG Heuer, MB&F, HD3, Hysek, Corum, MCT, Bomberg, Slyde, Rebel, and De Bethune.

One among my favourite tasks Fabrice was concerned with was the event of the Slyde Watch (aBlogtoWatch assessment right here) {hardware} and software program screens. He created animated watch designs for this pre-smartwatch digital timepiece product, which I nonetheless imagine are among the greatest animated digital watch faces made but. Gonet agreed to a written interview because it was essential to me to share his ardour and work with the aBlogtoWatch viewers. Let’s see what Gonet has to say about watches and design. You possibly can be taught extra about Fabrice Gonet at his Edge Design agency web site right here.

Fabrice Gonet

Ariel Adams: Watch designers are sometimes the unsung heroes of the watch trade, as they not often obtain the notoriety they deserve, regardless that they’re liable for a lot of the emotional enchantment of right this moment’s greatest watches. Do you’re feeling like an unsung hero or do you’re feeling such as you get your share of respect and recognition to your contributions to the fashionable watch trade?

Fabrice Gonet: I don’t actually really feel like a hero; I’m only a designer who tries his greatest to make mechanical toys for adults. Notoriety shouldn’t be my final objective, I simply wish to have enjoyable once I design and I hope the individuals I collaborate with are proud of the work performed. Through the years, I got here to comprehend that the higher the human relationship with the shopper, the higher the design. I’ve labored loads with impartial manufacturers that always put me ahead and let me talk about what I do for them, which permits me to showcase my portfolio to search out different purchasers. I’m rather more snug behind my display than on the entrance stage — I really feel snug within the shadow of my workplace.



Ariel Adams: For many who don’t know you, you’re the identify behind among the most hanging fashionable watch designs of the previous 20 years. Are you able to briefly introduce your self to the aBlogtoWatch viewers and share among the manufacturers and fashions you’re greatest recognized for?

Fabrice Gonet: OK, my identify is Fabrice Gonet, I reside within the suburbs of Lausanne in Switzerland, I’ve been working within the watch trade for the previous 28 years, I didn’t graduate from a design college I used to be educated for the job within the Hysek Styling workplace, the place I designed my first watches, jewellery, and objects.

I designed the Abyss diver mannequin for Jorg Hysek, the Tag Heuer Kirium F1, the Raptor Tourbillon for HD3, the Vulcania tourbillon Bi-Axial for HD3, the S-200 for MCT, the Weap One for Rebel, the DB28 GS for De Bethune, the Medusa for MB&F, the Corum bridge for the ten years, and recently, the Seapod for Ikepod — and several other others I’m not allowed to speak about.

Ariel Adams: We’re within the midst of a neo-vintage revival in wristwatch tastes, which is a significant change from the luxurious watch trade 10 or 15 years in the past. What had been the present tastes while you began as a watch designer, and inform us why you targeted on fashionable and futuristic design?

Fabrice Gonet: Once I began in watchmaking, I used to be very younger and my influences had been science fiction motion pictures or Japanese cartoons that I grew up with. My classical watchmaking tradition was not very developed — it came to visit time with my coaching within the workplace of Jorg Hysek (Hysek Styling) the place I met many different designers who all gave me one thing. The possibility I had at Hysek Styling, which was on the time one of the crucial essential places of work in watch design, was to work for a lot of large and small manufacturers in many alternative kinds and ranges. Hysek at all times pushed me to have new concepts or fashionable ideas, his imaginative and prescient of watchmaking could be very futuristic, and I feel I felt snug on this stylistic atmosphere.

My first commercialized watch design once I was 18 years outdated was for an Italian jeweler (Damiani), and it was not very futuristic ???? Furthermore, even when I made a whole lot of futuristic or sporty watches, I’m an enormous fan of classic watches. If I had to purchase a watch proper now, I might purchase a Heuer Autavia Bundeswehr or an orange boy. I might dream of upgrading a classic or basic piece. Furthermore, I’ve the impression that this neo-vintage development is at the moment present in a whole lot of new entry-level manufacturers that give the chance to observe lovers to accumulate a watch that appears like an icon that they at all times wished to put on however was inaccessible to them… so why not?

Ariel Adams: You labored for a few years with watch designer Jorg Hysek at his eponymous Hysek model and at HD3. What did you be taught from Mr. Hysek? What do you suppose he discovered from you?

Fabrice Gonet: Hysek took me beneath his wing once I was 17 years-old, once I was a rebellious brat who had failed at school and was utterly helpless on the planet of labor and adults. I didn’t have a faculty certificates, however only a portfolio with drawings from college or drawings I made throughout internships. He gave me an important alternative. If I look again, I say to myself that he taught me a commerce that turned a ardour, and later he related to me and Valérie Ursenbacher to create a watch model (HD3 Complication). I feel I can say that I owe him loads. I simply taught him to make use of second and 3d software program, which didn’t exist once I began with him, and to open beers with a lighter ????

Ariel Adams: Your final hour with HD3 was the Slyde digital display watch, a product that was just a bit forward of its time. It was the “unconnected” smartwatch with an emphasis on design and the standard of the animated faces that Slyde referred to as “engines.” I used to be additionally very impressed with these animated watch faces and count on them to seem on this high quality on right this moment’s smartwatches. Are you able to speak a bit bit about what it was like designing digital watch faces versus bodily watch faces, and what you suppose your potential future is in designing smartwatch faces?

Fabrice Gonet: The Slyde journey has thrown me right into a world that could be very completely different from conventional watchmaking, however one which I’m obsessed with, as I’m an actual gamer geek. It was very attention-grabbing, particularly as a result of we needed to develop issues with engineers that didn’t exist at the moment, every part was custom-made in any respect ranges. The best thought for me was to offer us the power to make digital watch problems that might be not possible to do in actual life. So we merged our watch design work with the work of our laptop graphic designers (Trait d’esprit) who had been making our laptop graphics for our print and internet communication on the time and animated these pictures with the software program we had developed for the Slyde to create hyper-realistic watch faces in real-time 3D.

We had even contacted a number of well-known watchmakers like Eric Coudray, Antoine Preziuso, and others to create distinctive creations that may very well be uploaded on the Slyde. After Slyde I attempted to suggest this data to manufacturers that had linked watches, we designed with among the former Slyde group a watch face for an enormous model and we marketed two others on the Google retailer. I feel that the individuals to whom we provided our know-how didn’t perceive the potential of our know-how.

Once I see the watch faces on some linked watches available on the market, I really feel like I’m taking a look at flat, monotonous second illustrator drawing. I’m beneath the impression that there are, on one aspect, watch manufacturers that wish to make linked watches, and on the opposite aspect, engineers that wish to make watches, however there isn’t a actual fusion between the 2.

Ariel Adams:  Fashionable, futuristic design — whether or not for watches or the rest — requires a little bit of threat and creativeness to be each authentic and provocative. But we exist in a watch trade that’s conservative and afraid to invent new issues. What makes you a insurgent inside your individual trade and what do you suppose the trade can do right this moment to be extra accommodating to imaginative and prescient and threat in design and enterprise choices.

Fabrice Gonet: I feel the enterprise stakes right this moment for giant manufacturers are so excessive that choices are not made by intuition, instinct, or ardour by an govt, however by finance. The dangers are so calculated by finance, advertising and gross sales, that the house for creation could be very restricted. I obtain a whole lot of advertising briefs which might be very comparable, the manufacturers have a look at what works with the competitors and wish the identical factor with a twist to be completely different.

After that, this freedom of creation and innovation is commonly discovered with impartial manufacturers, who take extra dangers to face out. My rebellious aspect is probably to stay an impartial designer who works on many alternative tasks and who doesn’t make his profession in an enormous firm the place I feel I might be bored rapidly doing extra inside politics and conferences than design. The time once I was concerned with the HD3 complication model was very fulfilling, I used to be creating the design I wished with out too many compromises, even when right this moment I might do among the issues in another way.

Ariel Adams: How do you strategy the duty of designing a brand new watch face? What are the principle components and the way do you make sure that the design leads to each visible enchantment and utility?

Fabrice Gonet: Once I work on an current base motion and {that a} dial needs to be created and utilized on prime of it, some technical constraints, just like the palms, the counters of a chronograph, or the place of a operate already give me a great graphic thought for the design. Then the thickness of the dial plate provides me the data to know if I’ll have thickness or to not work with depth. On the dial it’s extra a piece of second graphics, selection of font, form of index, finishes and many others… The chances of differentiating oneself on a normal motion are rather more restricted than on a {custom} show or on an obvious mechanical motion.

The work on a skeleton motion or a complication permits rather more freedom and I take advantage of the 3d to work on a number of ranges and on all particulars of the mechanism, similar to bridges, screws, the slicing of cogs, the rotor, a tourbillon cage, or on three-dimensional components that beautify the motion. The result’s usually given by the technical development of the motion, so the concept is to collaborate with a motion builder and to marry the method and the design. The creation section is commonly a great section of melancholy at first while you don’t discover the answer after just a few nights of anguish and when immediately the suitable thought arrives and provides form to the design, you enter a section of pleasure that feels good.

Ariel Adams: What are among the errors or issues that hassle you probably the most within the watch designs you see normally or recently? What are among the design errors you’ll by no means make once more given your training and expertise?

Fabrice Gonet: It’s onerous to say, each undertaking has constraints that don’t at all times make life simpler.
One of many issues we frequently encounter is attempting to combine a metallic bracelet on a field that isn’t designed for it.

The technical constraints of producing are sometimes irritating even when progress has made issues evolve loads since I began. The selection of producer or manufacturing method to make a bit is so quite a few that typically for causes of value or ease, the belief of a bit might not meet our expectations. Design is essential, however working with the suitable individuals and craftsmen can be tremendous essential and crucial to design success. One of many issues we frequently encounter in design is attempting to combine a metallic bracelet on a case that isn’t designed for it. The watches which have probably the most stunning metallic bracelet integration are normally designed with it from the primary design, like a Royal Oak or a Nautilus. I feel that the perceived worth of a watch usually comes from the standard of the manufacturing and particularly the standard of the finishes, which I discover aren’t at all times as much as par.

Ariel Adams: The place do you get new concepts for all of the shopper tasks you may have? Everybody calls for not solely your greatest but in addition new ideas and concepts on a regular basis. The place do you recharge your inventive power and get inspiration?

Fabrice Gonet: I’m very interested by what is occurring in innovation or in different fields than watchmaking, but in addition about what was performed by our forefathers previously centuries and might be reinterpreted to the present style. I watch a whole lot of motion pictures, collection, manga, I surf loads on the web and I nonetheless play video video games like an enormous child. My 15 year-old son additionally retains me updated with the newest tendencies and helps me to not really feel too outdated. Furthermore, I’m not alone since, for 4 years, I’ve been related within the Edge design studio with one other designer I knew on the time at Hysek Styling, Olivier Leu who additionally has a profession of greater than 25 years within the watch trade. He’s an enormous child like me and we now have nearly the identical passions. I might say that we’re complementary and for any designer to have an individual to trade with could be very enriching and motivating. Profitable tasks are sometimes a group effort — alone, it’s troublesome.

Ariel Adams: So far as I do know, there has by no means been a Fabrice Gonet model, however I’m positive others have talked about the concept to you. You’ve personally witnessed among the issues that may come up when designers change into branded figures. Is that this a course you want to pursue? Why or why not? And what’s subsequent for Fabrice Gonet?

Fabrice Gonet: I might like to have my very own product at some point, which will surely not be beneath the identify Fabrice Gonet. I’m working with Olivier Leu and a watchmaker with a fairy finger on an thought that’s on the prototype stage, however for the second, we’re shifting slowly in Switzerland fashion ???? It’s onerous to make time for our buyer tasks and particularly to finance them. After we are prepared, you can be one of many first to see the undertaking, and I feel you can be shocked by the fashion. For the second, I proceed to wander world wide of watchmaking, having fun with engaged on numerous and thrilling tasks.