The client for this project was a watchmaker that marketed their brand toward fans and athletes of extreme sports. In this project I was asked to design a watch for the mixed martial arts market.
This was the first project I had ever attempted to design watches. These are concepts I designed while working at Soulcake.
Mixed martial arts, or MMA, is a rapidly growing fighting sport. Designing a watch that would be associated with this sport, I based each concept on a different characteristic of MMA. A common theme among all of these, I attempted to convey strength and masculinity through the design's form language.
The skull is a symbol of raw, primal instinct. It represents fearlessness. The skull is often used by MMA clothing brands. In my case, I attempted to take a similar theme and execute it more tastefully within a watch.
I based the form language on the surfacing of the skull bone. Specifically, using the area around the right eye socket and nasal cavity to house the watch face and hands.
For MMA fighters to fight well, they require a combination of brute strength, toughness, and balance. The I-Beam is an inspiration I chose to represent this type of strength and stability. The "I" shape is a strong and bold icon that would make the watch design instantly recognizable.
In my thumbnails, I began to figure out how to best apply the "I" icon with the correct proportion to convey strength. In this rapid thumbnail sketch technique, I experimented with sketching over distressed metal phototextures in order to get a feeling for the design.
MMA may be thought of as one of the newest forms of modern hand-to-hand combat. A stealth bomber was an analogy I used as inspiration for this concept, as the faceted form language conveys both modern combat and very aggressive surfaces.
Designing a faceted watch was a personal challenge for myself, as I have not seen many watch designs out there with aggressive faceted forms.
Like the gladiators fighting in the ancient Roman Colosseum, MMA fighters can be thought of as today's warriors of the modern-day fighting spectacle.
I began thumbnailing designs based on the gladiator helmet.
As opposed to the square ring used by boxers and other ring fighters, the octagon cage is the iconic fighting arena for MMA fighters. I used the octagon as the basis for this watch design.
Rather than simply giving the watch an octagon-shaped silhouette, I wanted the design to have more dimensionality. I created a deep circular cavity, within which another octagon mass would echo the overall shape and strengthen the octagon form language.
Sometimes when designing, I also look at other products that the market might positively associate themselves with. The Hummer, an aggressive military vehicle brought to the consumer market, might be the vehicle version of an MMA fighter. Large, muscular, and indestructable.
If an MMA fighter wore a watch into the ring, what would it be like? My idea was designing a watch that would essentially be pre-destroyed, a watch they would never worry about breaking. In fact, it would be something they could wear with pride. This broken and fragmented design language is inherently aggressive and filled with tension, that as a design it could possibly be seen as beautiful.