Saturday, August 15, 2009

Unintelligent Design: The Watches Worn By 007

The latest post in this occasional series is swimming against the tide a bit, but still...

There really is no need for watches to be waterproof to hundreds of metres. I'm qualified to dive, but only to 30 metres, and yet there are many watches which are water resistant to depths of 200m or more.

An example: the Omega Seamaster Planet ocean is water resistant to 600m. The deepest recorded dive using scuba equipment is 330m, just over half that. By 200m, the penetration of light from the surface is pretty much gone, so you'll need a torch to read your watch (it doesn't seem to glow in the dark or have a light, but I may have missed that). Similarly, the Rolex Submariner (dial pictured) is water-resistant to 300m, which seems a bit unnecessary.

Yes, I know there's a lot to admire about watches with the impressive build and reliability of Omega and Rolex, but this just seems excessive. I'm pretty certain there's a middle ground to be struck between making something sturdy enough to survive the general bashes and splashes of everyday life (so: a watch that doesn't scratch, and will withstand water if you go for a swim, a shower or do the washing-up) and building something to withstand events that very few people are actually likely to experience.

Then again, since many of these watches which are strangely water-resistant to the depth of the Mariana Trench are top-of-the-line models, maybe reducing the spec and reducing the price, even if it means increased sales, might work against the prestige aspect of the watches?

Hmm. Maybe it's 'intelligence' in marketing terms at the expense of design intelligence, then.


The Factory said...

These watches have luminous dials, and that's always cool. But what I think you are missing is the cachet of such items. It's because they are exclusive and expensive, and horribly well made that people crave them so.

As you know I own a Seamaster, and even though I've had it 11 years, it still looks like I bought it yesterday. The pleasure of ownership is for me, worth every penny, plus the fact that it will long outlive me.

John Soanes said...

Ah, glad they do have luminous dials - and the rotating bezel thing is actively useful for guaging oxygen use when diving, no question about it. But the water-resistance feature is pretty superfluous for all but a very limited number of people, surely? That seems a strange aspect of the design to me, but I think that the high spec is probably part of the cachet, as you say.
We are counting on the watch outliving you, by the way; I'll be digging you up within a day to prise it off your wrist - and I'll also sell on anything else of value, probably to medical schools or something.

The Factory said...

Best of luck with the body harvesting, I can see you wandering around with an Asda carrier bag wet with organs, and a variety of people taking a look in and saying 'what do you think we are, desperate ?'.