Watch blog

08: NIKE HERITAGE by Damien Vizcarra

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Every once in a while I’ll go through my watch collection and this timepiece makes me pause every time. I usually tout my Ikepod Megapod or Junghans Max Bill Chronoscope as the heroes of my collection, but when I look at this piece I am reminded that it is by far amongst my favorites. It’s one of those pieces that has everything an enthusiast loves about a watch all in perfect balance: craftsmanship, uniqueness, function, and style.

This is the Nike Heritage. It originally retailed for $250 which is hard to believe given the high level of build quality. Needless to say it has tripled in value so I am really glad I acquired it when I did. One of the first things people notice about the watch is how the leather strap is shaped to seamlessly blend into the body of the housing. It is an incredibly striking detail. Given the complexity of leather forming and slight imperfections, it assures you that a machine did not conjure up this marriage of materials.

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Another detail I love is how timer feature completely ignores the placement of the numerals at the 7 and 8 o’clock. This detail is the type of visual cue common in active and performance wear and a subtle reminder that Nike is about sports. The designers could have figured out a way to neatly fit every graphic on the watch face in a conventional way but no, we’re Nike, we’re bad ass, no ‘40’ for you son.

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The CMF (color, material, finish) chosen for this model is absolutely flawless. It has a brushed stainless steel case with a malt-colored leather strap, but what brings it all together is a cream colored dial with white and red accents on the face’s layers. The rugged ribbed crown screws securely in place after adjusting time, and the start/stop chronograph button has a red accent with a corresponding red second hand to match. The lens features a concave surface which is rather uncommon since it likely means the whole watch has to grow at least 1 mm in thickness. Nevertheless, it is unique and oddly satisfying to run your finger across the smooth bowed surface.

As you may have assumed from the photos, this watch is physically substantial. It won’t tuck easily into a snuggly fitted shirt cuff and is not for those that prefer a slim lightweight watch. It is heavy, and at times it can feel uncomfortable because the butterfly clasp can dig into your wrist. This happens because the watch is large and the whole piece is especially rigid due to the way the formed strap exits the case. But I don’t care how thick and rigid it is. I don’t care that it is not the most comfortable watch ever made. I just care about a distinctive quality timepiece from which the industrial design will stand the test of time. The Nike Heritage does that in spades.

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WELCOME by Damien Vizcarra

Thank you for visiting my watch blog.  Allow me to begin with what I am not.  I am not a WIS, a brand name luxury watch snob, or an expert on horology.  I tend use my iPhone to check the time as much as I do my wrist.  But as a designer, I appreciate examples of great design in the world and love to see it when people get it right.  One product category that always interest me is timepieces.  It has been fun to watch (no pun intended) the evolution of timepieces from analogue to digital, automatic and quartz, to USB-powered smartwatches that have more to do with data and feedback than they are about merely telling time.  As 'wearables' begin to take shape in our society right before our eyes, one thing is becoming clear.  The immediate future of wearables will not be about a piece of glass in front of your eye.  Rather, it will be kickstarted by useful, beautiful, well designed machines on your wrist.

Throughout the course of the year I'll be sharing my watch collection. I will tell you a little about them and in some cases the adventurous backstory about how I got them. You'll generally find a few things that they all have in common: all are minimal and clean in design, they all have great proportions, are constructed in interesting ways, use refined materials and colors, and each and every single one of them are timeless.  Some of these timepieces are fairly common, relatively inexpensive and still in production. Others are very rare, iconic, and have their place in design history.  Many are part of MOMA and Cooper Hewitt's permanent collections.  I am not interested in watches as fashion accessories or as shallow status symbols. As such, if you are the type of person that fancies yourself a connoisseur based strictly on price-tag or lux brand name, then this isn't the blog for you.

Stay tuned and enjoy!