Some designers wear their normcore tech with pride, from Michael Bierut’s old flip phone to, well, how can you top that? But now that Swiss watchmaker Mondaine has released a “smart” version of its Helvetica watch there’s no longer any excuse for a wrist stacked high with rubbery bands or those weird wannabe watches Android and Google thought were a good idea.
Mondaine debuted the watch at Baselworld 2015 earlier this spring, and at NYCxDESIGN we got a chance to see the regular ol’ version that just tells time (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Though the activity tracking functionality on the smart version is “fairly standard,” it boasts a detailed sleep tracking system that’s apparently better than Fitbit, “with deep, light and REM sleep,” plus a smart alarm that will “wake you in the lighter part of your sleep pattern, making it easier to stir.”
After dabbling in the quantifiable self movement and I’m not convinced I’m any better off knowing when I have bouts of light sleep or how many steps I take each day. I’m not some anti-progress curmudgeon, but I do like my watches analog.
Whether you’re with me or not, both the regular and souped-up version of the Mondaine Helvetica take their design cues directly from its namesake font. For example, the location of the date on the watch face is actually slightly off the central axis in order to stay in line with the rest of typography on the dial. Also pretty cool: the shape of the “famous curved crossbar” of the number 1 is used for the lugs (where the dial meets joins with the strap).
Personally, I’m partial to Helvetica Light, but it also comes in Regular and Bold, which I’m guessing is what Massimo Vignelli would have chosen for himself:
“You can say ‘I love you’ in Helvetica. And you can say it with Helvetica Extra Light if you want to be really fancy. or you can say it with the Extra Bold if its really intense and passionate. And it might work.”