Mondaine’s Smart Move | Minimalism and Modernity

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‘One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.’

Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums


“Why does everything have to be so complicated?” Have you ever caught yourself saying that before? It’s an interesting exclamation that seems to be very common amongst folk when they’re trapped in an existential funk. I guess the implied answer is: it doesn’t. In the end it’s just a matter of finding the simplicity that suits you. That’s where minimalism strikes a chord. It divides opinion, like marmite splattered on a blank canvas.

Minimalism, also known as ‘literalist art,’ emerged in the tall concrete jungle of New York during the early ‘60s. It heralded a movement towards geometric abstraction and the use of free lines and unconventional representations of traditional forms. In a way it was also linked to Dadaism in as much it rejected the rigid logic that belonged to its opposition. If you’d like to see what it was all about you could look at the expressionist paintings of Kenneth Noland or the fluorescent-lit sculptures of Dan Flavin. This distinct aesthetic had absorbed many eastern influences, taking inspiration from Chinese architecture, like the uncluttered pagoda, and other unique approaches to creation, such as the feng shui orientated gardens of Buddhist India. As Kerouac’s quote implies, the bedrock of minimalism also extended into writing. It was a movement that encompassed all of the arts, including the precise discipline of watchmaking.

Enter the design-orientated Swiss watchmaker Mondaine, which has become one of the latest brands to hitch a lift on the smartwatch bandwagon. Their decision resulted in the limited edition Mondaine Helvetica Smart 1957 – one of five minimalist models equipped with smart technology and inspired by the popular typeface Helvetica, which was created in 1957 by the sharp Swiss typographer Max Miedinger.

Now Mondaine are celebrating Swiss history by putting their stamp on the 21st century with a smart watch to add to the Mondaine Helvetica Collection. This model was designed as a traditional analogue timepiece with a sub dial positioned above the six o’clock marker. The watch face is circled by traditional black hands that indicate bold markings of white and black. It also features a MotionX activity tracker so that the wearer can record any sleep and exercise data they require.

“In complete contrast to other smart devices… the information is read in an analogue fashion via the sub dial,” said Mondaine.

Like most smartphones this watch syncs to your tablet or mobile via an intuitive app, providing detailed data, whilst also offering you the ability to set a happy wake-up alarm that will sound during your light sleep phase, so as not to disturb your sleeping pattern. These Mondaine Helvetica Smart models come with a brushed stainless-steel casing, encircling an anti-reflective  sapphire crystal attached to black straps of padded and stitched leather.


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To wrap up, Mondaine has continued to provide luxury timepieces that exude their characteristic attention to detail, even going so far as to include edition numbers on side of their casings. Over the years they have also stayed true to their appreciation of minimalist design – the same Swiss company that famously made the clocks that overlook their local railway stations. Now they have released the limited edition Helvetica Smart 1957, paying tribute to the year in which the sleek Swiss typeface was created. It’s simple, sincere and effective. And who said watchmaking had to be complicated?


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