Jony Ive Reveals Secrets of the Apple Watch, His Favorite Brands
Five things Hodinkee learned about Apple’s Chief Design Officer as a watch collector
Originally published by Benjamin Clymer on Hodinkee.
I have been writing about Apple Watch since the fall of 2014. In many ways, the very first review I wrote of the watch became one of my defining stories as a consumer journalist. I never thought it would be, but that story struck a nerve with what I like to call "the real world." The real world is not the world we write about here on Hodinkee, when we can tout watches under $1,000 as "bargains" (which we did earlier this week), but rather the one filled with people who think watches are completely superfluous, silly even. And they are, and I always have been the first to admit this publicly and privately. But I think what made that story so successful, and subsequently my follow-up review this past fall of the Series 3 successful, is that I took the same critical eye that I've used to build a career around hand-made luxury products to a consumer product – paying attention to physical details that traditional writers might overlook. Also, I took stock of the fact that the Apple Watch isn't really even a watch, and yet it 100% is a watch. And I noted how just how far ahead of Switzerland Apple was in terms of fit and finish per dollar.
Since publishing of that first story almost four years ago, we've covered Apple products a dozen or so times. Really not that much in the grand scheme of things, considering we publish over 1,000 stories per year – but if you ask some Instagrammers and commenters, Apple is all we talk about. Oh, and they pay us, and everyone else too. Because why else would we be writing about what is clearly the most significant product to hit the wrist in decades, from arguably the most important consumer product company on the planet? It's all so silly – and to be clear, Apple is not a financial supporter of Hodinkee. They've not taken us to dinner, or paid for a single flight. And we cover the Apple Watch still, because we wouldn't be doing our job if we didn't. If you don't understand that, you don't understand what Hodinkee is.
Through it all, the one person that was at the center of the Apple Watch story was its creator, and indeed the creator of much of what has made Apple a $900 billion company, Sir Jonathan Ive, Chief Design Officer. I'd exchanged pleasantries with him from time to time, just as I do with most players in the watch world, but at the outset of the HODINKEE Magazine, I knew that it would be the perfect vehicle in which to delve deeper with Jony on the genesis of the Apple Watch but also his own collecting habits. I'd wondered how he felt when he read those vitriolic and downright nasty remarks from not only traditional watch lovers, but also Swiss executives. I'd wondered if he really cared about mechanical watches, or if he'd ever spoken with Steve Jobs about watches. And in Volume 2 of our incredible print magazine, I asked those questions. The interview is over 5,000 words long, and gives a rare look at one of the most creative and insightful men I've ever met, and indeed in the world.
Be sure to pick up your copy here and revel in the time that we've taken to make this product something far beyond a typical print magazine.
The interview in Volume 2 is wide ranging, but at the core of it, I know many of our readers are most interested in Jony's personal watch tale. So I've pulled out some of the best bits on that for you – but again, I encourage you to read the full story to get the full picture. Here are five things I learned about the great Jony Ive as a watch collector while interviewing him for our magazine:
1. Jony purchased his first nice mechanical watch in the early 1990s in Kowloon. It was an Omega Speedmaster Professional, and the Speedmaster remains one of his favorite timepieces. He loves its singularity in vision, and of course the connection to outer space.
2. He, and his team of designers, knew they didn't know everything about watches, so they asked for help. It was one of the first and only times Apple consulted outside experts while designing a product. And some of those experts are HODINKEE friends like our old pal Will Andrewes and former Richemont historian Dominique Flechon.
3. The three Swiss manufacturers that he admires the most (it seems) are Rolex, Patek Philippe, and Omega, all for their unwaivering commitment to quality and focus in design.
4. He reads the vitriol that traditional watch lovers have for the Apple Watch, and finds it disappointing and unnecessary – but he is used to it. He remembers the early days of iPhone and other launches and how some viewed the lack of a keyboard as a deal breaker. He has a simple, reasonable response to those who question how the smartwatch and mechanical watch world interact. He said, "Sometimes you’ll wear an Apple Watch for outright utility and other times you’ll wear something else for nostalgia and affection." Quite right.
5. He does not wear mechanical watches much anymore, but the one he wears the most often is his Patek Philippe Nautilus reference 5711. As if the wait list wasn't long enough as is...
More From HODINKEE Magazine, Volume 2
You can read an abridged version of the "Apple, Influence, and Ive," online here. And you can read the full interview, with a dozen other original and expertly produced features in the magazine itself, available for purchase here.
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