For me, there’s something inherently fascinating about mechanical watches. As a designer, I was drawn to their beautiful forms and curious about the technical complexity hidden inside them. They have a rich history rooted in design, technology, and culture that I’ve found to be oddly similar to the world of typography.
The centuries of technical achievements and unmatched craftsmanship seen in high-end watchmaking is astounding. I’m in no position to design the mechanical components, but I was interested to try my hand at the visual side which aligned more closely with my graphic design background.
I work as a digital product designer so the tools I’m most comfortable with (in this case Sketch and Figma) are tailored towards interface and systems design. I found that many of the modular design principles and techniques that I use in digital design have been useful in my watch design experiment.
Design Process - A radial design system
I tried to keep everything as modular as possible. I wanted to create a library of interchangeable parts so that I could use to experiment with and iterate quickly.
Watch hands in many cases are symmetrical so mirrored symbols allow for easier modification. A half-pixel nudge was given to the bottom left point of the hand shape pushing it just outside of the artboard. This helped ensure that the two halves fit together without showing a seam. Without this hack, a fine line is visible due to sub-pixel rounding errors when the two halves of the hand are rotated together.
Symbol override logic
Similar symbols share the same dimensions allowing them to be swapped out interchangeably. I’ve intentionally made certain groups of symbols different sizes so that they only* show up in the symbol overrides dropdown when it makes sense.