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Watch Out! What the $20 billion dollar watch industry can teach us about desirability


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Presented at Big Design 2017, look at 15 ways the watch industry creates desirability that we can apply as digital interface and interaction designers.

Published in: Design
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Watch Out! What the $20 billion dollar watch industry can teach us about desirability

  1. 1. Watch Out! What the $20 Billion Watch Industry Teaches Us About Desirability Presented at Big Design 2017, in Dallas, Texas on Sept. 15 #bigd17
  2. 2. Utility Usability Brand Experience Desirability Relationship between Usability and User Experience nnGroup Conference Amsterdam To talk about desirability, let’s talk about the relationship between Usability and User Experience.
  3. 3. I’m often working with large complex organizations that want to improve their process around UX, development, business, testing, etc. They often need the partnership of a consulting company to better incorporate UX.
  4. 4. Utility Usability Brand Experience Desirability nnGroup Conference Amsterdam Relationship between Usability and User Experience Many of the applications I work on are internal products that are centered primarily on functionality.
  5. 5. Utility Usability Brand Experience Desirability Relationship between Usability and User Experience Where I operate most of the time is around Usability; Efficiency and Effectiveness. Never to the point of addressing desirability.
  6. 6. “…not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” -Antoine de Saint-Exupery My typical design approach.
  7. 7. Excite Google I’d think, how do I redesign a site from Excite to Google? What is the utility of the site, and how do I make that the most usable?
  8. 8. A friend sparked my recent interest in watches; particularly wrist watches. I had no idea there were so many different types and styles.
  9. 9. Diesel ? What’s the equivalent for wrist watches? What watch design has the highest utility and usability? That would be the best watch…
  10. 10. Watch A Watch B Legibility of the watch face ✓ Faster to read,
 with less mistakes Slower to read,
 with more mistakes Precision of the movement ✓ +/- 1 second a day +/- 2 seconds a day Servicing ✓ Every 7 years,
 Done at home.
 Under 5 minutes. Every 7 years,
 Requires mailing the watch. Takes about a month. Resistance 3 bar
 “Suitable for Everyday Use” ✓ 30 bar
 “Suitable for Underwater Exploration and Diving” Cost of Ownership ✓ ~$25 over 30 years ~$12,500 over 30 years ✓ Here’s what happened when I looked into it… The one area Watch B wins is the one area, if this were an application, I’d recommend is not a feature worth investing since it won’t be used by a vast majority of users.
  11. 11. Casio F-91W Watch A is the digital Casio watch people had in the 90s.
  12. 12. Casio F-91W Rolex Submariner Watch B is the Rolex Submariner, arguable the most iconic watch in the world.
  13. 13. $4.7 Billion in revenue Rolex Sales (2016)
  14. 14. Casio F-91W Rolex Submariner ✓ So which watch is the winner? The point isn’t which watch is selling more, but the fact that people are willing to pay so much more for a watch that in many regards has less utility than its cheaper alternative.
  15. 15. Three Levels of Processing Visceral The subconscious reaction based on appearance. 
 Behavioral The reaction that stems for the difficulty or ease of use.
 Reflective The reaction that derives from self- image, experience, and memories. Emotional Design by Don Norman I started exploring what defines desirability. And you can clearly see how this relates to wrist watches; particularly about self expression and fashion.
  16. 16. Utility Usability Brand Experience Desirability But I wanted to look at it from the lens of what I do, which is more digital interface and interaction design.
  17. 17. Utility Usability Brand Experience Desirability Maybe there are lessons we can learn from the watch industry to move ourselves into Desirability.
  18. 18. 15 Ways the Watch Industry Creates Desirability My Opinions as someone trying to better understand how desirability works. This is not a comprehensive list by any means. I wanted to focus on the 15 that I think has direct application to what many of us in the room do which is digital interface design. In fact, this talk originally had a few more ways including: Personalization vs customization - People aren’t designers so don’t let them customize with too many choices, but allowing few key choices lets the user have more pride in ownership. The Human Touch - People buy into the craft maker. People enjoy mechanical watches because there’s an impression that a human hand assembled the watch (even if that’s not the case). It’s not enough to connect a person to a digital interface. If you can connect them to the person on the other side of that interface, that human connection is a key to desirability. Exclusivity - Through unattainable quantities or materials. When it comes to collecting something, there is a level of elitism; such as having the knowledge, social connections, finances, etc. to owning something limited. To an uproar from current owners, the Rolex Sky Dweller previously only released in precious metals will now be released in Stainless Steel. 60th Anniversary Omega 1957 Trilogy limited to 557 pieces at a price of $21.6k Pre-orders sold out in 4 hours. That’s over $12mil of revenue in 4 hours.
  19. 19. 15 Ways the Watch Industry Creates Desirability Musings of a Watch Enthusiast Experience Designer As this comes from my perspective, you may or may not agree. I encourage you to see if this applies to yourself.
  20. 20. ‘Wristlet’ for Pocket Watches Wrist Watches began as a Reflective tool tied to particular experiences. It started as a fashion accessory for women. Then it became a tool for Soldiers and Pilots to use to coordinate battle efforts without requiring pulling out a pocket watch. The idea that a watch is a tool central to an event is a concept we’ll explore in more detail towards the end of this presentation.
  21. 21. Broad types of watch designs Jomashop There’s a variety of different designs and additional technologies/complications for different Utilities including: Thin dress watches Pilot watches with usually matte dials, tegimented cases, and slightly domed crystals for reducing reflections against the sun. Chronograph watches for finite legibility for timing races. Dive watches with large lume and oversized rotating timing bezels to be legible underwater and manipulated by thick gloves. And beefy tool watches for the ultimate in durability. This is just scratching the surface as well. There are other utilities that wrist watches are designed and sub categories within each as well. Most of these watches focus on telling you the time, but how they do it is vastly different because the intended user is so different.
  22. 22. Simplicity is not the goal. -Don Norman The idea that started this talk for me… Before, I’d think about what’s the minimum visual information necessary to accomplish a utility. I might think, well all I really need is the hour hand, minute hand, and some indicator of context like the gem at the 12 o’clock mark in this Movado.
  23. 23. “…not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” -Antoine de Saint-Exupery My typical design approach
  24. 24. “Why do we have much less information
 on a much bigger screen?” -Jakob Nielson, NNGroup SIMPLICITY IS NOT THE GOAL In an effort to reduce complexity we may have gone too far in reducing the information density. Web UX 2016 vs 2004 (Jakob Nielsen)
  25. 25. “I don’t think your homepage should be
 3 cows and 4 icons” -Jakob Nielson, NNGroup SIMPLICITY IS NOT THE GOAL In an effort to reduce complexity we may have gone too far in reducing the information density. Web UX 2016 vs 2004 (Jakob Nielsen)
  26. 26. SIMPLICITY IS NOT THE GOAL As an example, the hamburger icon is an example of simplicity mis-aligned with the goal. We know from the Nielson Norman Group’s study that Hidden navigation led to a 20% drop in discoverability on desktop and users were 39% slower when the navigation was hidden
  27. 27. “Complexity is never reduced, only moved.” SIMPLICITY IS NOT THE GOAL By removing too much visual information, we may actually be reducing the usability because we are just moving the visual/information processing from the UI into the user’s brain.
  28. 28. Too simple seems complex Image Source Similar to the problems with over minimalization, if you reduce too far, it might confuse the users mental model. I own a Meistersinger similar to this, and there is a charm to it which I love, but it is a one-handed watch. So again, in an effort to simplify, maybe we don’t need 3 hands, what if we told time with just one? Well the problem is, when I show this watch to people, they are immediately confused because they are so used to seeing a distinct hour and second hand.
  29. 29. “Thoughtful reduction is about ‘core’ and ‘alignment’” SIMPLICITY IS NOT THE GOAL
  30. 30. Stowa Antea KS Nomos Tangente SIMPLICITY IS NOT THE GOAL Although nearly identical in design, the NOMOS thoughtfully reduced the complexity of the design, without sacrificing the core. This leads to what I think is a more beautiful, easier to read dial with less clutter and a larger font. It’s about thoughtful reduction. Also, I wanted to show off these watches. As Bauhaus designs, it may appeal to many of the designers in the room.
  31. 31. Design to a theme The theme should be tied to a utility. Forbes How do you define what is core?
  32. 32. Vacheron Constantin Grand Oeuvre Vacheron Constantin DESIGN TO A THEME The most complicated pocket watch in the world. Complicated for the sake of complication. Sure, it’s a nicely balanced dial. But it does nothing for me.
  33. 33. Vacheron Constantin Celestia Astronomical DESIGN TO A THEME Released a year later from the same company, this watch I think is the most beautiful watch in the world by blending expert engineering with thoughtful design around a central core. By the way, it costs around $1million. It has to be built based on your particular longitude and latitude. Complications: Time Moonphase Sunrise/Sunset Length of day and night Zodiac Equinoxes and Solstices Equation of Time Perpetual Calendar with leap year indication 3D Mareoscope, showing the relationship between the sun, moon, and tides. That’s just the front! On the back: Stars currently above the horizon The position of the Milky Way
  34. 34. Features work in harmony Not to satisfy differing goals. Tudor To extend the concept of theme and to create ‘alignment’
  35. 35. Tudor Black Bay Chronograph Tudor FEATURES WORK IN HARMONY This watch, revealed this year (2017), is a disaster of a design. It confuses the detailed precision of a chronograph timing race cars with the distance legibility of a dive watch; the snowflake hands.
  36. 36. Tudor Black Bay Chronograph Complication OmegaTudor FEATURES WORK IN HARMONY + Both are used for timing, but the use case is very different. The one on the left is a dive watch; for scuba diving underwater. The core is about legibility underwater. And it does so well with a large rotating bezel for timing which can be manipulated with a wetsuit. Large hands fully lumed to be legible in the dark underwater. Compared to a chronometer which has skinny hands for precise timing; intended use is for timing races.
  37. 37. Tudor Black Bay Chronograph FEATURES WORK IN HARMONY You can’t be all things to all people.
  38. 38. It’s okay to live in an ecosystem One product doesn’t have to do it all. salmonia, Avoid unnecessary features by understanding… Often times I work at a client that wants to add ‘chat’ or other functionality. They may want to recreate excell, in a web app, with a team of 5 people in 3 months… But it’s okay for our application to exist as a part of a process that includes other apps.
  39. 39. Watches exist as part of a ‘collection’ IT’S OKAY TO LIVE IN AN ECOSYSTEM There’s a diver for heavy duty work. There’s a gold/white dialed dress watch. There’s a field watch for casual wear. There’s a silver dialed dressy chorono for business casual work. The point is, one watch doesn’t have to be worn everyday in every environment. It’s okay to share that role.
  40. 40. Aesthetics can be the utility Usability may not always be the goal. With a background in game design, now doing information architecture/interaction design, I often focus on the ‘How’ of design and not the ‘Look and feel’ I need to learn that…
  41. 41. Black Tie Event The Kater Shop AESTHETICS CAN BE THE UTILITY Historically it was considered rude to the host to check your watch at a black/white tie event because you should be caught up in the ‘Soiree’ Often times dress watches have poor contrast, silver hands on a silver dial, but that’s okay. Because the utility of a dress watch at a social event is not to tell the time.
  42. 42. Seiko Presage Laco Pilot Watch AESTHETICS CAN BE THE UTILITY Previously, if you were to ask me I’d say every watch should have elements of a Pilot’s watch; optimum legibility. But this watch would not look good on a suit at a black tie event. There, a lower contrast dress watch looks more formal. The lack of practicality is precisely what makes it dressy and is what makes the Seiko Pressage beautiful. As an interaction design with a background in video game system design, I look at design more from the standpoint of ‘How it works.’ Sometimes I have to realize that there are certain pages, like possibly a home page, to where the ‘look and feel’ IS how it works.
  43. 43. Accessibility can be delightful Lume! Lume, was designed for accessibility for tool watches; primarily the explorer and diver type watches. Lume is beautiful and good lume is sought after. Don’t think, ‘What do I have to sacrifice to make my design accessible?’ Instead think, ‘What can I do to help accessibility which all my users will love?’
  44. 44. ACCESSIBILITY CAN BE DELIGHTFUL Often working with Visual Designers, accessibility seems to be an after thought. Only after they produce a beautiful design with an orange text on white background do I then have to come in and tell them that their design won’t look good for anyone with a visual impairment. And the visual designer has to ‘sacrifice’ parts of their design to meet accessibility standards.
  45. 45. Ball Spacemaster Glow Ball One Hundred Twenty Make Accessibility a core aspect of your design, and you may establish a features that is delightful for everyone. These Ball watches, using tritium tubes which always glow throughout the night, is their key selling point. It is beautiful and delightful even for users where the accessibility that drove its design is unnecessary.
  46. 46. Embrace your inspiration “Great artists steal” so don’t try to hide that inspiration. If you are inspired by something, make it clear. Other people that appreciate that same inspiration, will appreciate your item more. Especially as part of an ecosystem, this inspiration can be a differentiator.
  47. 47. Tudor ‘Montecarlo’ Monte Carlo Roulette Wheel EMBRACE YOUR INSPIRATION The desirable Tudor ‘Montecarlo’ is inspired by the Casino Roulette Wheel. It was the community that termed the watch the ‘Montecarlo’ because they could understand the inspiration.
  48. 48. Hublot Bremont Hublot MP-05 LaFerrari Ferrari LaFerrari Bremont Jaguar MkIII Jaguar E-Type Other examples of direct inspiration.
  49. 49. Design for Longevity How will your design age? dsio, But aesthetics doesn’t mean trendy. Patina is a desirable quality in a watch and is the result of intended usage. Age gracefully.
  50. 50. dsio, DESIGN FOR LONGEVITY Compared to a new submariner, both are beautiful, How will your application look after years of use? What happens if the data set is no longer 30, but 3000? And if there are data points with unconventional character lengths. How will the design look?
  51. 51. Peer Under the Hood Technology itself is desirable so showcase it. Omega De Ville - Tourbillon I’m not saying expose unnecessary features, but transparency into what’s happening behind the scenes can enhance the desirability of a product. People even buy skeleton watches when they don’t know how they work. If your engineers created a cool piece of technology, like being able to find 2 matches in a search result out of a database of 2mil in 5 seconds. Show that off. Normally, I’d try to minimize the perception of those 5 seconds; using progress indicators or skeleton pages. How can I make those 5 seconds only feel like 3? Now I might think to showcase what’s happening behind the scenes. ex: “Searching through 500,000 of 2,000,000,000 to find the 2 perfect matches for you”
  52. 52. CitizenM, watchuseek forums PEER UNDER THE HOOD It’s why ‘decorated movements’ are a desirable trait in a watch. It’s on the underside of the watch (the open caseback), yet people enjoy having a watch that showcases the movement aesthetically. The Blued screws and golden gears have no utility, for example. But the simple fact the internal mechanics are shown off, makes the entire watch more desirable.
  53. 53. Niche Features for Niche Products Amplify what people like. Christopher Ward Trident-Pro What do you showcase? The CW Trident-Pro (their best selling watch) has 2000ft water resistance. Nobody realistically needs that, but those that are interested in big chunky dive watches, like the 13mm thick watch that has a particular extreme utility.
  54. 54. Ar-dehumidifying on the Sinn 856 nebulight, NICHE FEATURES FOR NICHE PRODUCTS Sinn, a german brand used by the GSP (German Special Police) and first responder/emergency services, is known for german over-engineering. This capsule pulls moisture out of the watch movement so condensation doesn’t interfere with the oils in the movement. Necessary? No. Super cool for people that like engineering technology like this? Absolutely.
  55. 55. Users define the Utility Even when they are wrong. Pictured: the Two-tone Rolex Submariner which features gold centerlinks.
  56. 56. USERS DEFINE THE UTILITY The Rolex was a watch worn by soldiers who purchased it at the cost of 1 month’s salary. Yet, people associate the high quality with expensive and you wear expensive things when you wear a suit. See David Beckham. Wearing a diver with a suit is like wearing a high quality hiking boot with a suit. It doesn’t match the need of the outfit. Typically, with a suit you’d want a more discrete looking dress watch. That notion has changed. As a result they’ve offered it in softer metals, like gold, which wouldn’t make sense with the original utility. The price of a Rolex Submariner has dramatically increased as they’ve realized that the utility of their watch has changed.
  57. 57. Tied to Significant Events Symbolic artifact whether personal or historical Bob’s Watches There is a particular moment the watch is tied. Dominoes had a ‘Rolex Challenge’ for top performing stores meeting a sales quota for an extended period of time. Smartly tying this watch with a major personal accomplishment is an excellent way to add desirability to a product. Facebook has tied itself to significant events. One of the first things people do when they get married is update their relationship status on FaceBook, even before the reception starts!
  58. 58. Image Source TIED TO SIGNIFICANT EVENTS Nomos has an entire collection of unique colored watches, the Club Campus, which includes free engravement to celebrate a particular moment.
  59. 59. Omega ad via TIED TO SIGNIFICANT EVENTS The second most iconic watch in the world. The Omega, Man on the Moon watch is iconic simply because it was associated with such a significant event. It even includes design decisions that don’t have practicality as an everyday watch such as the crystal being made of scratch prone acrylic. It was chosen because on re- entry it would only pop-off and not shatter like sapphire. Most quality modern watches use sapphire because of its scratch resistance. But people don’t care because they want the authentic, warm toned acrylic used by the watch that landed on the moon.
  60. 60. Tied to people People with cultural and social capital Bob’s Watches Like events, tying the watch to significant people has a similar effect. The Paul Newman (famous race car driver) Daytona became popular after (allegedly) a similar photo to this appeared on an Italian Magazine.
  61. 61. Hodinkee TIED TO PEOPLE In fact, the more colorful look of the Rolex Daytona was not popular with the clientele. However now, the Daytona on the left currently sells for ~$25k while the ‘Paul Newman’ Daytona sells for ~$100k. His actual watch was found and will be up for auction in October.
  62. 62. Omega Ad via TIED TO PEOPLE This applies even to fictional characters. Omega has brilliantly featured a new ‘James Bond Omega Seamaster’ watch every movie recently.
  63. 63. Tied to family Designs are powerful when tied to people you know. Image Source Pictured is one of my all time favorite marketing slogans of any brand, ever. Another slogan of theirs: “Something truly precious holds its beauty forever.” There are many applications, movies, and other designed experiences I consume primarily because I know it’s something my friends and family consume. If you can get your application/product not just in the hands of your user, but in the hands of people your user cares about, it could perpetuate itself, like WhatsApp spreading as a way for family all over the world to communicate. I gladly paid the $.99 to continue using WhatsApp since the rest of my family uses it.
  64. 64. UGWC, Facebook TIED TO FAMILY Many people in the room probably received their first watch from their parents or grandparents. At the end of the day, if someone you respect does something, you’ll want to do it too.
  65. 65. Execution Quality The executional quality is as important as the quality of the design. Designers are not the only ones responsible for desirability. It’s important to realize that designers aren’t the only ones that are responsible for desirability. Everyone is responsible for desirability.
  66. 66. IDEO Innovation Model EXECUTION QUALITY This model is incomplete. It’s easy to say, I want a search that can be done in 10 milliseconds. But you need to empower your engineers to want to accomplish this as they are responsible for that desirable outcome.
  67. 67. Seiko SARB033 Grand Seiko SBGV Timeless Luxury Watches EXECUTION QUALITY The SARB costs ~$400. The Seiko Grand Seiko costs about ~3000. Their designs are very similar and from the same company; Dauphine hands, black dial, applied indices w/double at 12, framed date window, etc. But the quality is vastly different. For example, the GS uses a ‘black polish’ technique to achieve a true mirror shine and the ‘engine’ inside, the movement, is far superior. There’s a level of quality control that creates a desirability that people are willing to pay to experience.
  68. 68. Conclusion Junghans Max Bill Chronograph Simplicity is not the goal because too simple actually seems complex. Instead, design to a theme, where features work in harmony. You also don’t need every feature, because it’s okay to live in an ecosystem. Aesthetics itself can be the utility needed, but don’t sacrifice Accessibility otherwise. Embrace your Inspiration, but Design for longevity. Showcase the technology because people with niche interests enjoy niche products. Remember, the user is always right in defining what the utility is for them. Tie your design to significant events and significant people; whether cultural or personal. Finally work with your entire team to build designs of exceptional quality. And, that’s how you can incorporate what the wrist watch industry is doing to create desirability. Also, I wanted to end with this watch designed by Max Bill. If there was ever a watch that would convince a group of designers to buy a watch, it would be this one.
  69. 69. Questions? Jainan Sankalia