Minimalism can mean different things to different people. In fact, Apartment Therapy says there are 6 types of minimalists, as the term relates to aesthetics, sustainability, experiences and more. As societies and technologies progress, there are naturally increased opportunities for accumulation of tools, gadgets, clothing, obligations and waste. In a word, there is: MORE.
Minimalists strive to streamline – in one, some, or all parts of their lives. It often comes from a need or want to simplify.
For a word with many definitions, how do you know if you are a minimalist?
Here are some key signs:
1. You are naturally averse to waste.
Do you look for food and other packaging that produces as little waste as possible? This is a sign of minimizing your footprint, your lasting effect on the natural world.
2. You are happiest when wearing one or two colors.
Perhaps you stick to a few hues for your entire wardrobe, to make mixing and matching easy. Some texture or patterns will do, if accompanied by a neutral solid. Accessories are simple, clean-lined, and often serve a purpose.
3. Your home and/or desk lack clutter.
You might be a minimalist if your colleague’s office, overrun with papers and tchotchkes, which they say helps their inspiration and creative process, gives you anxiety just walking past it. If you prefer almost nothing on your desk and feel more creative with a quiet mind and limited distractions, you might be a minimalist.
4. When shopping, aesthetics pique your interest, and functionality makes the deal.
Minimalists are often drawn to a clean, unadorned look and anything they are attracted to must fit that aesthetic. Looks alone, though, aren’t enough. The idea behind minimalism is less, not more, so buying another possession comes from a need for functionality. They will only purchase something they will use, and use often.
5. You use words like “subtle,” “simple,” and “stark” to describe your ‘happy place’.
When you walk into your home and look around at your few favorite, hand-picked décor pieces neatly arranged, do you take a deep breath and think: this is perfect? When asked what your style is like, do you use these words? If you answered yes to both questions, chances are you’re a minimalist.
Mondaine, as a brand, has a penchant for minimalism. The SBB collection, for example, comes from a clock design pared down to only the essentials to easily read the time from across the train station. And the idea behind the Helvetica typeface, which inspired our other collection of watches, comes from clean lines and readable shapes. Every subtle design aspect we incorporate into our timepieces is aesthetically purposeful and above all functional.
The history of the wristwatch is a storied one. At the beginning, making time portable – with the pocketwatch as far back as the 1700’s – was revolutionary, though bringing time to the wrist in the early 20th century was seen by some as a fad. The Atlantic attributes the watch’s staying power to military requirements for soldiers to have the latest ‘wearable tech’ at the time, during World War I.
Now, over a hundred years later, with how far technology has come and lifestyles have changed since timepiece beginnings, it’s a fair question to ask: does the wristwatch still interest young people today? Is the millennial generation wearing watches?
Today, wearing a watch is a personal choice, and those who choose to wear a watch are doing it based on a want, rather than a need.
A personal piece
While the stock image of a millennial may be an electronics enthusiast and social media aficionado, the Instagram age has brought about a renaissance of appreciation for cultivating a personal style. There is a large audience of millennials who choose to wear a watch for the cultured and cool look of a simple, dignified accessory – a way to complete their personal style. While the idea of a wristwatch is a classic one, there are many different styles out there, so the specific choice is deeply individual, with the power to help define a personal ‘brand’ as a true statement of character. Some Mondaine wearers, for example, describe their style as visually clean, thoughtfully detailed, or quietly bold, to name a few. Many of our customers are young graphic designers, architects, artists, bloggers, designers, and those involved in visual arts, choosing a Helvetica or SBB style as one piece of their complete look.
Rather ironically, the wristwatch has become a truly timeless piece. A clean, well-designed watch on the wrist evokes images of worldly travelers in crowded train stations, journalists working to beat an important deadline, and motivated graduates eagerly pursuing new careers. All of these scenarios involve the concept of time as an integral part of a passion, rather than an obligation. The wristwatch reminds us of a nostalgic determination and a feeling of connection to a time when the world moved, but not too fast, and in one direction: forward.
While phones and technology will continue their path of everyday ubiquity, there are still settings and situations where it’s best to keep them away. Millennials, many raised with personal devices as part of their entire lives, know better than any other generation the need to be present for in-person connection. A quick glance to the wrist to see how much time there is for lunch with a coworker before the next meeting doesn’t disturb the flow of conversation the way bringing out a phone – inadvertently leading to checking notifications and replying to messages – does. Even when living in the moment, checking the time is a necessity for getting the most out of the day and for keeping track of time without wasting it.
‘Design,’ as a concept, is defined as: purpose, planning, or intention that exists behind an action, fact, or object. Many designers use this concept to simplify a complex system to solve a need. This intention to streamline, at its core, is ‘reductionism’ and has made a large impact on the way design is viewed.
Hans Hilfiker, the designer of the iconic Swiss railways clock, described the idea of reductionism as, anything you would add would be too much and anything omitted would leave it wanting. When Mondaine took the Swiss railways clock design and brought it to the wrist, reductionism naturally became essential to our brand.
Mondaine’s Andre Bernheim, in a recent interview with Cool Hunting, explains “For many years we have seen the ‘more is more’ approach, but recently many customers are yearning for something simpler that tells a deeper story. The Mondaine core positioning is simple, classic, timeless and highly oriented to functionality. After all, the watch is primarily an instrument to read time. This frees us in a way from the ebb and flow of trends.”
What many refer to today as ‘minimalism’ is not only an aesthetic choice. For us, it is also an intention to make the experience of using a product as easy and enjoyable as possible. For example, on each Mondaine SBB or Helvetica watch (as well as the clocks), the combination of clean lines, clear shapes, and purposeful color work together to make the time clear and easy to read at a glance.
As technology and material capabilities change, Mondaine will continue to keep reductionism at its core. When we introduce a new material, such as sustainable Rizinus oil into the casing of our SBB essence watch, it is with the intent to streamline the materials we are putting into the world. And when our customers look to us to incorporate activity, sleep, message, and call tracking into our brand new Helvetica Smart connected watch, we take on the challenge to do so in the clearest way possible.
Style is personal. Take it from these Instagram savants, who Mondaine partnered with to show how each one heightens their already strong aesthetic with a new SBB essence watch style of their choice. You’ll see the timepieces complete looks from dressed up to dressed down. Mondaine becomes an everyday essential or a standout accessory, all depending on how it’s styled.
@suttonandgrove (photo credit) pairs essence with a favorite travel look – streamlined for this Switzerland adventure.
@thecuff.co (photo credit) chooses essence for strong, dark, Soho style.
@AerialLynn (photo credit) opts to pair her essence with a crisp, everyday look.
@TheNathanielManual (photo credit) tops off his moody neutrals with essence.
@Thegraybasic (photo credit) uses essence for purposeful, chic, professional style.
@calebthill (photo credit) epitomizes the creative class with essence.
@waterthruskin (photo credit) proves accessories are meant to be layered by adding essence to stacking bracelets.
Last week, the top brands and buyers in the watch industry travelled to Basel, Switzerland, for the annual watch fair. Mondaine presented new ideas at our offsite exhibition, which is a bicycle shop the other 355 days of the year.
This is a time for us to listen and act upon what customers and watch wearers are looking for in their daily lives and here is what we heard:
“I am looking for a watch I can feel good about wearing”
For some brands that means responsibly sourcing diamonds, or being more conscious about packaging. For Mondaine, we go further by producing an eco-friendly collection of watches called essence. Born from nature and developed using eco-friendly, renewable materials including Rizinus (castor oil) for its case; natural rubber for the strap and recycled PET bottles for its packaging, Mondaine’s SBB essence is not only clean and simple in design, but also considerate of the world we live in. When we went looking to create a really well-priced Swiss watch, we knew it couldn’t be plastic and found something new to the watch world, an innovative material we can be proud to work with and our customers can feel good about wearing.
“I want a watch that works for me”
In the past 4 years, since Mondaine was among the first to create a horological smartwatch, many new connected devices have come out. We listened to what our customers are really looking for and will soon offer a new Mondaine Helvetica Smartwatch. In addition to the Activity monitoring, Get-Active Alerts, Dynamic Coaching, Sleep Monitoring, Sleep Cycle Alarm and most importantly the 2 year battery life from our first smartwatch, here are the updates this year:
“I need a watch I can wear everyday”
A timepiece is an investment in essential style. It’s a personal choice that says a lot about the person wearing it. We hear you when you say that design originality, modernity without depending on trends, and distinctly unpretentious confidence are crucial and we promise each and every one of our styles hits those marks so that there is no need for more than a Mondaine.
As we leave Switzerland, where each of our watches are made by hand, we are reminded of the purity of our story, the authentic need for clear and consistent timekeeping and the origin of the Mondaine brand you see today from the clocks throughout the SBB train stations.
Helvetica is arguably one of the most minimal, simplistic, and easy-to-read typefaces. Developed in 1957 by Swiss type designer Max Miedinger with input from Eduard Hoffmann, the sans-serif creation is still beloved today by architects, designers, artists, innovators, and influencers from around the world.
To explain why Helvetica has become so ubiquitous, we look to the reasons many people use the written word:
When communicating, the typeface shouldn’t distract or detract from the message itself. Helvetica was designed at a time when modernist architecture removed superfluous decoration to show a raw silhouette. Similarly, removing the serif makes the shapes so understated that they let the written words speak for themselves.
To provide clarity
Helvetica is as much about the negative space it creates as the structure of the letters. This balance creates an efficiency that promises clarity even when words are small, large, or in motion.
Because it has been used for logos (Nestlé, Lufthansa), public transportation signage (MTA, CTA) and more Helvetica is instantly recognizable, even to those who don’t know its rich history – their eye is drawn to the familiar.
So... why did Mondaine choose to create a watch line dedicated to the renowned Helvetica typeface?
Founded by Erwin Bernheim in 1951, we drew inspiration from the blueprint of the iconic, patented design of the Swiss railways clock and turned it into our SBB watch collection officially licensed by the Federal Swiss Railways.
Nearly 30 years after releasing this ‘railways watch,’ we sought after another Swiss icon, one which makes sense when embedding into the core of a watch design. Helvetica—the Latin word for "Swiss”—is one of Switzerland's most important and representative creations. It expresses many of the Alpine Republic's values and qualities: neutrality, discreetness, clarity, efficiency, and timeliness. These values align perfectly with the Mondaine brand, which offers a pure, unfettered approach to watch design.
And so the Mondaine Helvetica No. 1 collection of watches was born. Like the famous typeface, our timepieces represent the epitome of craftsmanship, punctuality, and precision.
From the classic Helvetica collection:
To the Spiekermann Edition:
And our latest seasonal styles:
As lovebirds all over the world are gearing up to prepare for the most romantic day of the year, you're probably wondering if you have the perfect gift to express your love and affection for that special someone. Whether or not you have that ideal gift picked out, we have put together a gift list of watches for him or for her that would make a spectacular gift this Valentine's Day.
A watch will undoubtedly make an unforgettable gift for your loved one, especially a Swiss Made Mondaine watch. Produced from the finest materials and under the highest-quality craftsmanship, Mondaine watches are the a luxury gift that can be remembered and worn for ages. Our watches are produced using the best quality materials, from ultra-scratch resistant sapphire crystal to superior stainless steel to soft, leather calfskin leather, you can be rest assure that when you buy a Mondaine watch, you are buying a high-quality, durable, and reliable timepiece that has been curated under years of experienced, precise, and highly skilled craftsmanship. With 2 very unique collections, each series offers a minimal, iconic, and design that eloquently resemble the true brand DNA of a Mondaine watch.
Below are our TOP 5 PICKS for that special him and her,
so check out our popular choices below!
To view the entire Valentine's Day Gift Guide,
click on the Mondaine SBB Clock below.