I’ve been a fan of Stefan Sagmeister’s work for a long time, so when I had the opportunity to get on a Zoom call with the legendary New York–based designer, I jumped at it. The occasion for our conversation was the release of the Type 3X, his collaboration with the Belgian watch brand Ressence, released as part of their 10th anniversary celebration. The watch is built on Ressence’s unique time-telling platform and uses things like color and typography to display the passage of time in really unique, unexpected ways. This is a great example of what fine watchmaking can look like in the 21st century and the excitement that can result when the watch industry embraces outside influence and fresh ideas. I find all of that tremendously compelling.
Sagmeister obviously shared what it was like for him, as a watch amateur, to design a timepiece and to work in dialog with decades of wristwatch designs that have come before. He was a Ressence customer before this collaboration, but while it’s one thing to enjoy a watch, it’s a different thing entirely to create one.
We also talked about some of his other recent projects, including Sagmeister And Walsh: Beauty, a book he co-authored with his business partner Jessica Walsh lamenting the absence of beauty in 20th-century design and the importance of reviving it as we look to the future, a collection of artworks he’s created that combine data and design to show human progress over time, and why he closes his agency down every seven years so everyone can take a sabbatical and recharge. Getting to speak with Sagmeister one-on-one and to see how his brain works in real-time totally blew me away.
Be sure to stick around at the end of the episode too. We’ve got a little treat for you, but I’m not going to spoil it.
We hope you enjoy Episode 117 of HODINKEE Radio. Be sure to check out the show notes, and let us know what you think in the comments below.
When Sagmeister first discovered Ressence, it was the Type 3 that drew him in. While he initially purchased the more affordable Type 1, he always kept his eye trained on the Type 3 and knew it had to be the platform for his collaboration with Ressence once those conversations started. The result is the Type 3X. The words “Now Is Better” sit at the outer edge of the dial as a reminder that we’re living in the best time in human history, and the combination of blue and orange markings shift every day, giving the watch a slightly different look over the course of a month. Yes, the watch still shows you the hours, minutes, and seconds, but it also encourages you to think more abstractly about time when you look at your wrist, remembering what really matters.
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