Digital Revolution Boosts Watch Design

Today, computer-aided design is an integral part of the creative process. Save time, make quick decisions and better coordinate with actual production. However, these advantages cannot replace the core position of imagination in creation.
   Computer-aided programs are to the designer like a magnifying glass to a watchmaker. The digital revolution has not only changed the working model of the movement builder and stimulated the imagination of the engineer. At the same time, it has also significantly affected the design of the watch. Over the past 15 years, software such as Alias, Rhinoceros, Zbrush, and Illustrator have been added to the designer’s toolbox. These programs can easily simulate realistic images and are also widely used in the automotive industry.
Virtual Reality
   Gone are the days when watch designers spent countless hours tracing drawings, and today they can present a realistic metallic sheen with just a click of a mouse. ‘Thanks to the 3D modeling software, we can now directly construct a 3D stereo model. Real-time adjustments and quick modifications can effectively avoid various problems in the process of realizing the 2D imaging model.’ A digital design expert from a watchmaker explains, ‘Even if the shape and structure are more complex, the material will not break or wrinkle, ensuring good integrity. These procedures can also help us better communicate and collaborate with production engineers and directly connect Take into account the assessment and actual production conditions. ‘

   The application of these programs can effectively reduce the company’s daily 3D printing costs, and the other two benefits brought by it-one is to improve the accuracy to 1/10 millimeters, and the other is to obtain helpful assistance for decision making. Similarly, the 2D rendering effect is becoming more and more realistic. Computer graphics experts can even extract some elements from existing model pictures and add them to the virtual model: without leaving the computer screen, the tourbillon frame of one watch can become a component of another watch model.
   ‘The emergence of these new software has significantly accelerated the decision-making process,’ said Pascal Hurni, CEO of professional watch design software Hurni Engineering. ‘The time of decision-makers is very valuable. Generally, if every point of the watch can be represented according to demand, Molding, then such a design will be more easily green. For example, through these program software, you can solicit customer opinions and select samples before actual production. This is also applicable to other modelable elements such as retouching, texture, and materials .

Advantages and disadvantages
   Computer-aided programming has great potential, but the human factor remains at the heart of watch design. ‘Watch design must start with a great idea,’ insists Claude Emmenegger, Audemars Piguet’s new creative director. ‘For me, this still means paper and pen. Inspiration always comes by surprise. At the moment, the pen tip is swiped across the paper, and those seemingly empty lines are likely to surprise the designer. The mood is empty, the mind is united, and if the true emotions spread, the drawing design naturally takes shape. The first step to creative best results. ‘

   As expected, 3D software is also flawed. The learning process is extraordinarily arduous. Once you master it, you will find that the operation of the program is abnormal and simple, but it also paves the way for the formation of bad habits.
   ‘There are two drawbacks,’ Claude Emmenegger commented. ‘First of all, relying on overlays for beautification is an imperfect idea in itself. I’ve seen some examples of ‘over-rendering’, which reminds me of certain Hollywood movies. ——The special effects are messy, but the main purpose of the script is lackluster. Some students who are proficient in digital programs quickly fall into this trap. In fact, they need to return to the drawing board. This is also my and my colleagues’ loyal suggestions.

   Second, the application of these tools for retouching is likely to deviate from the original idea and wish. Therefore, I am more inclined to walk into the workshop without hesitation or communicate with suppliers to ensure that every watch produced and sold will look like it was originally. ‘