Nao Tamura about “1/6”
A watch as a tool that carefully expresses the “passage of time.”
June 7, 2019
“My mother loved the clothes designed by Issey Miyake. Although I was a child, I thought that the shapes and materials of the clothes are interesting. I personally felt an affinity for the brand,” a designer Nao Tamura explains. She is currently based in New York and actively engaged in a variety of design projects including furniture, lighting, and plates, but designing a whole watch was her first experience.
“A watch tells time using two-dimensional elements, hands and a dial, but the watch itself is three-dimensional. In addition, at the moment when it sits on someone’s wrist, it forms the wearer’s personality. In other words, an emotion and a function coexist in a watch. But there are many watches that express emotional value, and men’s watches designed by male designers are more likely to have strong sensibility like desires for possessions and how others look at you. Then I thought of, conversely, trimming off that sensibility completely because I am a female designer.”
In fact, Nao usually doesn’t wear a watch, but she decided to wear it at the timing of this project’s start. “When I look at a smartphone on a train, I arrive at my destination in no time. But when I looked at a watch, I realized that time passes by slower than I thought. Besides, I felt like I emptied my mind or my brain was working differently while looking. I used to have an impression that wearing a watch is being pressed for time, but now I noticed that looking at a watch to check the time is such luxurious behavior that is separated from an enormous amount of information. The idea of ‘a watch as a tool’ came up from that feeling and awareness. What I wanted for a watch was not fashion, but expression of the ‘passage of time’ in a careful manner.”
This is embodied by the markers that comprise the majority of the dial. The long second hand sweeps over the outer fine markers starting from 12 to 6 o’clock and the inner fine markers starting from 6 to 12 o’clock respectively, and that motion expresses “time ticking.” Furthermore, the crown located at the 6 o’clock position exudes a more tool-like aura. “When purely thinking of a tool for measuring time, this position was ideal for setting a crown. It is best fitted here for adjusting the hand’s position precisely.”
This position may be unusual in the theory of watches, but when you actually hold the watch in your hand and adjust the hands, it surprisingly fits well without discomfort. It is rather easy to adjust hands as they rest along an extension of your hand. At first this proposal confused ISSEY MIYAKE WATCH, but that was only because this idea was unprecedented. There was no disadvantage at all. Because Nao was new to the field of producing a watch, she was able to come up with this crown position in an unbiased way, enhancing this watch’s appeal as a tool.
“The name ‘1/6’ derives from the hand movement of six beats per second of this mechanical watch. I’m not sure what the beat really means (laugh), but I valued the second hand’s motion that marks the passage of time, which is particular to mechanical movements. Mechanical watches especially have an ‘emotional’ presence compared with other kinds of watches, but this ‘1/6’ is close to a ruler. It is purely a tool for being aware of time.”
The watch “1/6” was created for city dwellers living in vast amounts of information. It is a luxurious watch that visualizes the less-than-a-second present moment and lets the user enjoy the second hands’ motions.
Photographer: Laurel Golio
After graduating from Parsons School of Design in New York, Nao Tamura worked for a design consulting company called Smart Design. She is currently an independent designer based in New York, actively engaged in a variety of projects ranging from furniture design to general product design for Artek, Pyrex, and Nike, in addition to being involved in the global rollout of Panasonic and installations for Lexus. Tamura has received a number of international awards including the grand prize at the SaloneSatellite Awards in Milan (Italy), the Gold Prize at IDEA (U.S.), the IF Design Award (Germany), and the ADI Compasso d’Oro International Award (Italy).