Swatch dials back to basics with its thinnest plastic watch yet
You never know what awaits you when you walk into an interview with a creative. The individual could be sensitive. Maybe stuffy. Surely complicated. Formidable, perhaps. But Carlo Giordanetti, the man behind Swatch's pursuits since 2012 (between 2000 to 2007 too), is none of the above — and that's a very good thing.
Just like our topic of conversation, Swatch Skin, he's approachable, light-hearted and rich in character. He walks us through the 11 new designs that come in two case sizes and a special two-tone wave pattern, making the timepiece a work of art from all angles. The heart of the watch may lie in its impressive mechanics but the soul is in its purpose, which the creative director has titled, #YOURMOVE.
The official statement reads: #YOURMOVE is a story of transformation. It is a tale of freedom, exposing life’s pivotal moments when individuals allow themselves to embrace emotion, create change and dance with the unknown.
Giordanetti tells us more over a cup of coffee.
The first Swatch Skin was born in the '90s. How is it relevant today?
If you look at the accessories market, it's very over the top, it's very loud like the beautiful brooch you're wearing right now. I'm not using it in a negative way, but we feel that it would be good for people to have accessories which are a little more subdued, where you are the message and not the accessory.
You want the focus to be on the person and not the watch.
We live in a moment in fashion history when anything goes and you can express yourself in a very free way. We would like Skin to be able to convey the idea of a watch with a strong personality but has no weight and therefore becomes very meaningful. The watch embodies the compensation between minimalism, lightness and a strong expression of self. Feeling light is a good thing — it's gives you a sense of freedom and this translates into our slogan, #YOURMOVE, because we believe it will inspire people to think and be empowered to do, to move. It's sort of a call to action.
Do you think as we carry less, we will do more?
If you don’t carry too much weight, then you are more likely to do something yourself. One thing I find very disturbing is how the younger generation doesn't feel responsibility towards the future. This is a problem with the last U.S. elections. I know of Americans in Europe who didn't vote. They have the right to vote but they didn't. It's terrible. I’m not saying that we are going to make a voting campaign with the Skin. But the idea is that as a young person, you need to move, and you can make a difference.
Swatch Skin was one of the first campaigns you worked on upon your return to the company. Why?
The very first project I worked on was System 51. It involved new technology, mechanical movements — it was a very thick watch with body and a lot of expression. It spoke to the watch lovers, the purists. Then everyone showed up with some kind of smart watch, super connected where you can make pizza and grow coffee... and we came up with a mechanical watch, the most traditional concept of watches. It's an interesting time to propose something in the market which is a little a bit against the trend. This is one of the things Swatch likes to do; we like to take the market by surprise.
But surely the brand can't afford to ignore the smart watch market for long?
First of all, philosophically, we are against the concept of smart watches because we think it's people who are smart, not objects. My smart phone is not smart at all. Because I only use it to make calls and reply emails, it's a dumb smart phone. I'm joking of course! I think the world of connected objects is becoming a more and more interesting one and yes, we are exploring different ways to enter into this universe the Swatch way.
What is the Swatch way?
We have a heritage and DNA within the group and one of the most important things to us is simplicity. In an ideal world we would like to have a product that has no instruction manuals. It has to be intuitive. That's who we are — we have to be talking to you from here [points to heart], not here [points to head]. There is a saying that we still believe in which came from our founder: "What a 10-year-old cannot understand is not Swatch."
So ultimately, it is about connectivity, but on a more personal level?
A world of connected devices means you are not completely independent anymore; you're always dependent on something else. Especially when you get used to something, like walking into your car and your phone connects to the Bluetooth and then you can no longer make your phone calls without it. The moment it stops working, you get so upset. It screws up your day and I don't know if I want to connect to that kind of negative energy. We like the fact that we connect because we wear a Swatch, not necessarily because the Swatch connects us to our surroundings. In a way, we are a very individualistic brand.
In such a complicated world, there is much luxury in simplicity.
For me, luxury is about emotions. If you feel an emotion or if you have a product in front of you that mirrors one of your emotions, it's a luxury product. In the luxury goods industry, the contribution of men against that of machines is very important. So even if Swatch watches are produced only in the production line, it's still a watchmaker in the beginning of the line and the end of line, and there's a designer behind it — a crazy Italian creative director who is developing the stories and these stories are channelled into the product. Human capital makes luxury luxury, not price.
The new Swatch Skin range below.
Swatch Skin is available in stores today.