It sucks when your secret spot becomes a global destination, and few cities can claim that as emphatically as Austin, Texas, home to DuFrane Watches. Over the last 30 years, the SXSW Festival has grown from a glorified pub crawl with cool bands into an international technology and media conference dominated by the likes of Google, Yahoo!, and major players in the gaming, technology, and film industries. Generating revenue on par with the Super Bowl, SXSW attracted an estimated 412,000 attendants in 2018. Over the same three decades, Austin’s population has more than doubled and now hovers just below one-million. The popular “Keep Austin Weird” bumper stickers need little explanation.
DuFrane Watches remind us that for the other 342 days of the year that aren’t SXSW, Austin is a uniquely cool American city. DuFrane named their handsome pilot watch after Austin’s airport, Bergstrom, and their new dive watch after the city’s favorite swimming spot, Barton Springs. Anyone who’s experienced the heat of central Texas will understand how significant a spring-fed fresh water source is to this city, and because Barton Springs is part of a larger aquifer that supplies fresh drinking water, it’s arguable that Austin wouldn’t even exist without it.
I applaud DuFrane for changing up the font of their logo to suit the Barton Springs, because the one used on their pilot watch just wouldn’t have worked. I can’t think of another watch brand that does this, and the strategy really pays off because, other than that font, the Barton Springs is a study in shapes so elemental that they lack an identity of their own.