Welcome Clomm, a Hong Kong based watch brand established by a British product designer, to the world of watches. Gary Fidele, founder and designer of Clomm, set out to create a unique collection of minimal watches that utilize natural materials with the goal of making “objects of desire that are long-lasting and improve with age”. The inaugural line, titled “Terra Firma”, is composed of six watches, all featuring lug-less 47mm x 15mm steel cases with black, silver and rose gold finishes, Ronda 736 3-hand quartz movements, sapphire crystals, Italian leather straps and prices ranging from $450 – $490. The aesthetic, materials and price all position these watches in the sort of museum/fashion shop category of watches, alongside Uniform Wares and the watches of Issey Miyake.
The design of the watches is an interesting mix of a minimal and maximal. On one hand, the cases lack ornamentation, with a cylindrical body, thick chamfered bezel, no lugs and a snap fit case-back. The only detail that sticks out, literally and figuratively, is the signed crown at 3. This draws attention towards the similarly restrained dial, putting emphasis on the hands and the natural materials. And on the other hand, the 47mm x 15mm size, thick bezel and PVD coatings are bold and graphic, creating a strong wrist presence. Furthermore the natural dials, namely the wood, are wrought with warm colors and random striations. In the end, the various elements balance out and are well proportioned, creating a unique and appealing timepiece.
That being said, the biggest design factor is the material of the dials. There are three with organic dials, rosewood, oak and cork, which lack indexes. These dials let the coloration and natural forms of the materials speak for themselves, with some additional emphasis coming from the hands. For example, on the rosewood model, which has a dark reddish coloration, the slightly thick hour hand is a firey orange, picking up and emphasizing the warmth of the wood. Conversely, the hour hand on the oak dial, which is a blonde wood, has black hands, which emphasizes the light dial through contrast. One thing I really appreciate about designing with natural materials, that furniture designers deal with regularly, but watch designers don’t, is the randomness that the material brings. Sure, one can design every detail to within a millimeter’s tolerance, but throw some natural colors in the mix and you’ll always be surprised by the outcome. Furthermore, each watch is essentially unique.
The three other watches feature white or black ceramic dials and applied markers. Of the six, these are certainly the more restrained and perhaps more formal option. The white dial with black markers in a matte black case is pure contrast. The black dial with grey markers and hands, in a brushed silver case is masculine, industrial but refined. And the black dial with rose gold hands, marker and bezel on a matte black case with a deep red-brown strap is elegant, sophisticated and a touch indulgent. The ceramic dials have remarkably deep and pure colors.
Clomm is an exciting new option to have for those interested in the minimal and contemporary look, as well as those who are drawn to larger watches. Their Terra Firma collections focuses on materiality and the subtle play between colors and surfaces make these watches a unique offering that will have lasting appeal. We are looking forward to seeing what Clomm, and designer Gary Fidele, produce in subsequent collections.
Images courtesy of Clomm.com
by Zach Weiss