COLUMN
Tokujin Yoshioka about “Glass Watch”

An inorganic glass chunk
embodies the timeless design.

December 14, 2018

The Glass Watch, crafted from an inorganic glass chunk. Its design concept had actually existed since 2005 when Tokujin Yoshioka first participated in the ISSEY MIYAKE WATCH Project. The background about how this watch was finally introduced 10 years later.

Materials are booming in the recent luxury watch industry. The mechanism of current mechanical watches was established over 400 years ago, and although small improvements have been made, it is likely to reach a dead end of evolution. That is why the industry has paid attention to materials to find a new style, and glass has earned the most attention. The effect of reflected light and a feeling of floating are introducing a new style of watch design.

However, Tokujin Yoshioka already had this idea in his mind over a decade ago.
When he participated in the ISSEY MIYAKE WATCH Project, one of the key words he proposed was “a sense of materials.” This aimed to link the sense of materials including glass and metal to a watch. An idea of creating a “glass watch” came up first, but it deferred due to technical issues back then.

Tokujin Yoshioka and glass have a close connection. He introduced a glass bench “Water Block” in 2002. This artifact was highly regarded and permanently installed within the Musée d'Orsay in Paris. The following year, he brought out “Chair that disappears in the rain” and the chair was selected as public art for the Roppongi Hills Public Art and Design Project. He is an artist who gives expression to light using a glass material.

Back in 2005, unfortunately it was too hard to develop the watch due to the difficulty in material processing, drilling, and polishing technology, but the technology advanced and opened the door to a new era. The feature of Glass Watch is its thickness that accentuates the texture of the material. There was an idea of giving the watch a square shape, but sharp edges made of glass are fragile. Therefore, he found a way out of the issue by designing a round and thick watch. This led to a breakthrough.

The thickness of glass that covers the dial is approximately 7 mm. The glass is processed so that the hour and minute hands can be seen without distortion even when looking at the watch from an angle or from the front. This great care shows the designer’s sincere approach for fulfilling a necessary role for a watch.

“It has been more than a decade since I proposed the idea first. I was filled with deep emotion when I found out that this project was going to be launched. The greatest part of this watch beyond design is technological capability. The engineers examined every possible way taking into consideration various risks and managed to commercialize the watch at last. I am very delighted that the Glass Watch was able to make its debut.”

The Glass Watch was created based on the integration of inspiration and technology. The technological innovation and commitment made by many people involved led the way to the completion of “a sculpture, an objet d’art, of light” that is unique to Tokujin Yoshioka.

“The ‘TO’, which resulted in my first watch, has become 14 years of long-term project. However, this Glass Watch, which took a decade to reach commercialization, is also like a OOPARTS watch with timeless design.”

This is a watch with the feel of an accessory that enjoys light reflections created by the material, glass, and admires the beauty of its delicate shape.

DESIGNER

Tokujin Yoshioka

Tokujin Yoshioka
Designer

Established Tokujin Yoshioka Inc. in 2000. Active in the fields of design, contemporary art and architecture, with works transcending human senses and themed in nature, he is highly acclaimed globally. He has won many international design awards with many of his works chosen as part of permanent collections in museums worldwide, including Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), Le Centre national d’art et de culture Georges-Pompidou (Centre Pompidou) in Paris, and Victoria and Albert Museum in London. He was chosen by Newsweek magazine as one of the 100 Most Respected Japanese in the World.

  • glass tea room
  • installation
  • glass bench