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Jony Ive Talks about Watches
If you’re interested in Apple design and high-end watches, you’ll want to read Benjamin Clymer’s interview with Jony Ive in watch-enthusiast magazine Hodinkee. Don’t get derailed by the initial prose (which shuttles from schoolgirl-breathless to luxury-product name-dropping) and skip to the Q&A, where Ive discusses what he likes in watches, his history with them, Steve Jobs’s disinterest in them, and the process behind the Apple Watch’s design. Be sure to check out the neat animated infographic at the bottom that tracks Apple’s projected product sales in real time.
It’s unlikely that a comment here can save anyone the 8 minutes and 42 seconds that the “neat animated infographic” says I wasted reading the original article, but I’d like to try. This is the worst piece of pseudo-journalism that I have read in a long time. Josh Centers of TidBITS warns us not to get “derailed by the initial prose (which shuttles from schoolgirl-breathless to luxury-product name-dropping)”, but that prose continues to the very end. The article finishes with these sentences, which mirror the vague, “this is all about me- let me tell you my feelings” shallow depth of the entire piece: “And more so, I am confident knowing that it is Jony Ive at the center of all this influence. After all, he’s a Speedmaster guy. How bad could it really be?” If “it” were the article, then my answer would be “pretty bad”.
The author maintains a running commentary throughout the interview on his feelings, hopes, and conversations with his girlfriend: “I did stop for a minute and consider my AirPods, which I have kept with me almost daily since I purchased them in December 2016.” The author expands on this anecdote to a length of about 120% of the Jony Ive comment that stimulated the personal reflection.
Several times, he presents the complete text of questions that he didn’t ask, his guesses on what Jony’s answer might have been, and his own personal answers to those questions. He also offers us a play-by-play account of what he thinks about Jony’s answers, for example, ’ "Panacea.” Wow, what a word.’ But Jony doesn’t answer a lot of the author’s chosen questions, because, as the author points out, Apple never answers these questions. So why is it useful for these questions and non-answers to fill so much of the article?
Perhaps half a dozen questions have interesting, brief answers.
Yeah, the author’s writing is beyond parody. It’s some of the most absurd, pretentious prose I have ever read. It reminds me of Will Ferrell’s impersonation of James Lipton.
But this is also the most Ive has ever talked about watches and the Apple Watch, so if that’s an area of interest for you, it’s still worth reading his responses.
The author is the publisher of Hodinkee Magazine, which is unabashedly for high-end watch enthusiasts, so he can write whatever he wants, however he wants. I have to assume that his usual audience is OK with the style. As Josh said, though, Jony Ive doesn’t talk about this stuff very often, so it’s interesting to get whatever insight into his thoughts that we can for analyzing what other industrial designs come out of Apple in the future.
Exactly right. I do read the Hodinkee web site on occasion, as I do have a few mechanical watches, and this is an article geared not toward the tech enthusiast, but the mechanical watch enthusiast. I did notice somebody else point out in the article, by the way, that the Patek Philippe Nautilus watch that Jony Ive loves has hour and minute hands that look suspiciously like the shape of the hands on the Utility watch face on the Apple Watch.
While I do agree the author is a self-aggrandizing and pretentious fashion victim, a horse’s ass and crappy prose stylist, he did ask Jony Ive some very good, though overly wordy, questions, Jony Ive gave very insightful and intelligent answers.
I’ve always been impressed when Ive has discussed his design thinking, and what I found extremely interesting, unique and impressive about this interview was his description of how different his design strategy was for the Apple Watch than iPhone, etc. I’ve always read about how Ive and Jobs approached iPhone and iPad from The knowledge that everything about prior mobile phone and tablet design and implementation irredeemably sucked big time, they knew they needed to scrap everything from day 1. I found it very revealing and refreshing that Ive admitted that he greatly appreciates fine watch design, both historical and contemporary, and that he likes Speedmaster the best of all and would never give his up. It’s not like he ever said anything like this about Nokia or Motorola. Ive has always been more polite and gentlemanly than Steve Jobs, but after reading this I kind of suspect that maybe Jobs would have acknowledged good design in other Watch brands too.
There were other things I liked about the interview as well, and my sincere thanks to Josh for linking to it, warning us that the interviewer’s editorializing could be an immediate big turnoff, and that it would worth it to read through.
This is the article that was covered on the most recent ATP episodes, and Marco is a watch guy and he found the writing terrible and objectionable.
But the point isn’t the writing or the article, it is just the very few things that Ive said, that are of interest.
The main one, honestly, is that the watch wasn’t Steve’s idea.
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