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A Unique Angle on Time Telling: Slip Watch by Evan Clabots

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Articles | Galleries | 09.08.2011

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The Slip watch represents Brooklyn based designer Evan Clabots’ first voyage in to both watch design and self-manufacture. Worn&wound had the luck of being able to hold on to a production sample for several weeks, as well as meet up with Evan and discuss the watch and his company over beers and burgers. As an extension to his recently founded collaboration-based design studio, nonlinear, the Slip watch is the first product launched under the bynonlinear brand. Defined by its elegance, simplicity and unexpected quirkiness, the Slip watch is an interesting take on the contemporary watch.

This is heavily inspired by the Issey Miyake Twelve. Which is maybe my favorite watch of all time. He took the most simple, basic watch you can make, gave it the smallest little tweak…and it’s genius. – Evan Clabots

Case: Polished Stainless Steel
Movement: Miyota Quartz
Dial: White with Black Hands
Lens: Mineral Crystal
Case Back: 2 Steel Plates held w/ 4 screws each
Strap: Matte Black Leather
Water Res.: 30m
Dimensions: 40mm x 40mm (50mm on diagonal)
Crown: Pull-out
Thickness: 12mm
Lug Width: 23mm
Warranty: Limited Warranty for Defect

The shape is that of a square with rounded corners, the face is a clean-cool white, the hands are stout black rectangles and the strap is matte black leather. The proportions are ideal, the stainless steel body is polished evenly and the crown is a graceful and unadorned cylinder. It is effortlessly classic and handsome…and then there is the twist. The whole body of the watch appears to have “slipped” off the strap and caught itself at a sudden and unexpected angle. Herein lies the personality of the watch and that of its designer. Interrupting the otherwise sterile façade is this seemingly all-too-human mistake, accident or error. The watch has fallen; come unhinged, lost its way, but in doing so has found a better and more comfortable position.

The tilted 40mm rectangular body crosses the strap at 12 and 9, making recalibrating to the angle of the face effortless. Simultaneously, the angle allows for a more relaxed position of the arm when being raised to tell the time. Essentially, this repositioning increases the ergonomics of the watch; it is simply easier to use. The elegance of this solution, which is both the defining visual and psychological characteristic of the watch, is what makes it stand out as an interesting design.

And that’s what this is about. Both the poetic idea of the watch slipping off the band…and the idea of motion captured in time. – Evan Clabots

Having worn the watch around for a bit, I can honestly say that it is easier to tell the time with it than expected, given that is appears as a watch with no markings. There is sort of an intuitive grasp on the positioning of the hands that is created by the crossing of the strap, and the angle of the face orients the watch better to your body position. Even while typing now (I am wearing the watch) the 12-position is in a more natural place on my wrist for a quick glance read.

Similar watches have come out in the last year or so where the watch face is essentially rotated 30 degrees in order to achieve the same ergonomics, but Evan’s redesigning of the entire case has a much more dramatic effect. By designing the case from the ground up, he was able to define the aesthetic and personality separately. That is to say that the classic square shape, with its minimal details, is not defined by the shifted angle and is able be appreciated on its own. The unconventional angle is then more emphasized by its contrast to the body’s aesthetic.

In order to achieve the “slip” Evan designed a lug-less pass-through strap system for the 24mm strap. Basically, the watch has two backs now. The first back, which is polished steel with an etched logo, is held down by four screws and is used to clamp down the strap in a 24mm slot that keeps the watch at the fallen angle.The second back, which is not visible, is where you can access the battery. Many of the more design shop style watches do not have easily changeable straps, but that is intentionally not the case here. Any single piece 24mm strap can be swapped in with relative ease.

Though the Slip is a 40mm square, 50mm on diagonal, since it is angled it feels more like a 45mm. With a thickness of 12mm, the Slip is a sizable watch, but it wears comfortably do to a modest weight and lug-less design. The case is polished stainless steel that tapers in ever so slightly towards the mineral crystal lens. The face is as pure of a white as you can get and has no markings, which makes the matte black hour and minute hands stand out very clearly. There is no second hand ticking away, which would interfere with the otherwise minimal aesthetic. It is hard to comment on such a clean watch; it is basically stripped down to its most basic components. There are no extraneous details or flourishes other than the angle the watch sits at. Ultimately, the watch has a very neutral and graphic appearance that makes it easy to wear with just about anything.

The Slip watch has an interesting origin story.  Evan initially posted renders of the Slip on nonlinear’s blog, and it immediately gained significant interest from designers and watch nerds alike.  As you can imagine, Evan was frequently asked when and where the Slip would be available for purchase.  Simultaneously, nonlinear was in its infancy, and looking for a first product to bring into production.  In many ways this was perfect timing, thought having never produced a watch before, Evan was then taxed with the challenge of bringing his vision of the Slip to life.

Evan turned to fellow designer and friend Matthew Waldman, founder of Nooka, for advice on how to get the Slip made.  From there, Evan was referred to a trustworthy overseas production house which he worked with closely to engineer the Slip that you see today. Producing a seemingly simple product like the Slip is often the most challenging, since the general lack of extraneous details means that what you do see needs to be perfect. The thin bezel, the clean face and the seamless body all lack mechanical fasteners, so innovative manufacturing solutions needed to be found. What Evan described as “a bit of a back and forth” with the manufacturer, even involved him taking apart some watches with similar design elements to see how they work.  At the end of the day, with time and iteration, Evan and nonlinear studios have produced an outstanding product.

With units of the Slip beginning to ship now, it is a bit too early to know what the future holds for it, but if current community interest and excitement are any indication, I imagine the Slip will flourish.  One question that we were sure to ask Evan when we met up was “What’s next for the Slip?”  After initially seeing the Slip, we agree that it is a product ripe for variation.  Evan agrees, and feels that the future of the Slip, and what other variations we may see in the future will be determined by consumer interest.  Alternate color combinations, and even a women’s version are among the common requests Evan has received by interested fans of the Slip. Ultimately, with such a simple, versatile design, there are countless possibilities to consider.

Regarding his future in the watch biz, we think Evan said it best himself:

The whole idea of self-producing is an experiment. We’ll see how it plays out.  I figured I’d start it, if it goes really well and I can reorder and develop a new SKU, great. If both sell to the point where I have enough profit to reorder on both of those and develop another SKU, great. And then, in 5 years, I may have a watch company. 

You can purchase the Slip watch today at bynonlinear.com, and for more information on Evan an nonlinear studios check out nonlinearstudio.com.

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  • John Weiss

    Form and function form a seamless blend with this refreshing combination of innovation, design excellence, attention to detail and self enterprise. I hope the Slip achieves the success it deserves.

  • http://URL IronMike

    Anyone buy this watch? Any comments? I just read the review and am very interested in anyone’s experiences with it.

  • https://www.facebook.com/tom.littrell Tom

    I have been struggling between a few watches to invest in, and this one rose to the top. I am currently placing an order for the gold and white with a brown strap. Excited to wear this beautifully minimalist work of art.

  • http://URL ilan

    I look forward to slip’n it on my wrist…as I just went ahead and ordered one minutes ago….oh, and your fine write up was most helpful, thank you.