Watches and gear go well together. You can often find watch guys, when not discussing timepieces, eyeing various types of EDC from interesting keychain gadgetry to pens. This of course is not to mention cars, wallets, shoes, bags, whiskeys and all the other things that appreciators of fine goods (if I were to blanket label us) can agree upon. But there is one object that while perhaps appealing more to a subset of the larger group, really resonates with watches: cameras. Like watches, cameras are metal and glass, with finely tuned parts and knobs and pushers. A good camera and a good watch often share certain characters; feelings of weight, smooth motion, materiality… And like watches, cameras too have evolved from pieces of pure mechanical artistry to something more synthetic, prompting a revival of the old aesthetics and build.
So, it’s only natural that a photographer who loves watches would set out to combine the two. Enter Foto Nouveau, a new brand founded by William Bon; a photographer, Art Director and Industrial designer. Inspired by the build quality, textures and iconic designs of vintage cameras by brands like Hasselblad, Leica, Mamiya and Olympus, Foto Nouveau attempts to distill those traits into objects you could wear everyday.
When brands take inspiration from outside of watchworld, they can either go literal or abstract. Both have their pros and cons. Literal can be cheesy while abstract can just miss the point. Foto Noveau rides the line between the two, abstracting some concepts while being pretty on the nose with others. The result works. They don’t look like little cameras on your wrist (thank heavens), but clearly pull from the physical designs of camera, in particular lenses. If you know cameras, you’ll pick up on it immediately. If you don’t, you might need to be told what’s what. Powered by Ronda Quartz movements, the Foto Nouveau watches come in two styles; Objective and Viewfinder for $279 and $299, respectively.