Inside the Watch Designers’ Mind

Meet Thomas and Stepan. They are the creative mind behind the appearance of our Hybrid Smartwatch Ad Maiora. Together they put a lot of sweat and love into the watch design. To learn more about their thoughts, we had an interview with them.

Can you introduce yourself and tell us something about your design background and why you decided to join Leitners and work on Ad Maiora?

Stepan: Hi, my name is Stepan and I am from Zlín, which is a city that stood at the beginning of Czech design and is still strongly associated with it. Maybe that’s why I decided to become a designer. Working on Ad Maiora for me was primarily a chance to create a real product with everything that millions of people around the world might one day know. At the same time, I like to play sports, so the opportunity to design such a hybrid smartwatch was extremely interesting for me.
Tomas: Well, If I take it in order, my name is Tomas. I got to the design thanks to rock climbing. When I went to college, my dream was once to design carabiners for some mountaineering company. That’s why I decided to study industrial design. During my studies, I found out that I enjoy designing any kind of product other than just climbing equipment. That’s why I have been working on a variety of projects and also, I got to work for the Leitners.

What were your main ideas behind designing Ad Maiora? Did you take any inspiration from other designs?

Stepan: My job was to design the watch dial and the user interface. The watch has a limited number of buttons and my main goal was to design the user interface so that it is as intuitively managing as possible, with two buttons and a swivel bezel. The watch has only two buttons and swivel bezel – the main goal was to make the UI as intuitive as possible and keep the real watch experience.
Tomas: Functionality. This is probably the main idea behind it. The most important was to figure out how to properly combine the classic mechanical movement and the digital part of the watch. These are two completely different worlds, which are not related at first sight. With Stepan we took inspiration from a lot of watches. I think it’s almost impossible these days to design the watch saying you haven’t been inspired by anyone. The wristwatch has existed for more than 100 years and during that time was created plenty of designs.
Tomas design proposal of the case back of Ad Maiora Watch
Tomas' design proposal of the case back of Ad Maiora Watch

We - also our most loyal followers - know the design of Ad Maiora is quite minimalistic. Is there a reason why you chose to keep it simple?

Stepan: Both of us can agree that the main idea behind this watch was to combine the classic watchmaker’s approach with a modern display as the current smartwatch has on the market. Give smartwatches the more luxurious and sociable look that traditional watch lovers like. It turned out that minimalism, in this case, was practically the only possible starting point, since these two approaches are largely excreting, and minimalism has allowed us to find harmony between them.

What do you think makes your design special and different from other watches?

Stepan: Our highlight is the display and its clever integration into the watch, where the entire dial area is one e-ink display. Therefore we can display the information without compromise, which many other designs do not allow. At the same time, the overall concept of mechanical watches with a display is unique. We only tried to emphasize this uniqueness.

How do you think the design supports the whole concept of a hybrid smartwatch?

Stepan: I think if someone buys such a watch, this person doesn’t expect to make any compromise. The aim was to display all the “smart” information for the user clearly and sufficient size, which I think was successful.

As I said, the display is the key. The rest of the watch is not very different from the classic mechanical watch. Except for the caseback. Here again, the mechanical movement meets with electronics, where pins for charging and a heart rate sensor are placed around the bottom slide. However, on the design side, it is more of a classic watch. Which is the biggest advantage I think. Because with regular smartwatches, you can tell at first glance that they’re different. Which, however, not every user has to like.

Stepans' 3D render of our Ad Maiora watch design

How much time did go into the process of creating the whole design? Were there any special moments, for example, having a striking idea that changed the whole outcome?

Tomas: At first, I thought it would be a fast task and not too challenging. But as I got more and more into the depths of the whole project, I found that it was far from easy. The main problem was with the internal components and with designing a compact case into which everything can fit. And at the same time, it must look great. Solving all problems and creating the current look took us approximately 10 months.
Stepan: Yes, I agree with Tomas. And as for interesting moments, for me, was the time when we decided to use only text in the UI. The original idea was the icons placed around the perimeter of the dial, which made sense in terms of lunette control. But it turned out that creating icons that would be well recognizable, suitable for display, while respecting classic watch design of the case, was impossible. Therefore, we decided on a purely textual menu, with e-ink the texture will look more like Kindle.
What do you think? Did we miss any questions? If you want to know more you are welcome to reach out to us on any of our social media platforms. We will try to answer all of your questions.

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