“I’m trying to produce something with an expressive neutrality, I tend to try and work out what I can strip away without losing character. It’s just the minimal elements that you need to make a watch, all reduced to their bare essentials.” …. Tom Dixon
“A watch has really got to be round if it’s analogue, because the hands sweep round. I wanted to make sure you could tell the time – because with all too many contemporary watches you can’t tell what time it is. And I wanted to set it in a square because the strap has to go to a square anyway”
“It’s just the minimal elements you need to make a watch all reduced to their bare essentials and, I hope, still expressive enough to be something you want to buy.”
They are an exercise in simplicity.
The Block Watch is Tom Dixon’s first series of watches and have been designed as part of his Eclectic Collection – which consists of objects “designed for the eccentric collector’s cabinet, the modern architects table and the British tearoom trolley.”
The Eclectic Collection is a collection of everyday home accessories, giftware and design objects formed from honest, resilient and heavyweight materials including copper, marble, cast iron and wood.
The products are informed by British heritage and each piece is designed to be used or played with, to be treasured or to be given.
The watch features a distinctive square case stamped from a piece of stainless steel or brass and a circular face with etched numerals that point precisely to the time markers.
The watch’s hour, minute and second hands are powered by a high-quality Swiss movement.
The timepiece is available in either stainless steel or rose gold (plated) with matching mesh straps, or in brass with a chunky brown leather strap.
The watch face is 40x40mm square making this watch suitable for both men and ladies
It’s always interesting to see what a renowned industrial/furniture designer will come up with when tasked with designing a watch.
Designer watches tend to have an aesthetic that speaks to a broader design sensibility, they always touch upon standard watch design motifs, but quickly veer off into something more specific to the designer’s own body of work.
The Block watches certainly represent Tom’s broad philosophies and extensive body of work. The Block Watches incorporate all of the elements of a classic 3-hand watch, but the design speaks wholly to Tom’s interest in raw materials and manufacturing processes.
Tom Dixon did a great job of creating something unique that speaks to the design vocabulary of his furniture and other designed objects. He didn’t try to re-invent the watch, as designers often try to do, instead, he kept it simple and focused on form and material.
Aesthetically, the watch is quite interesting. It is at once brutal and chunky, yet not overwhelming or dense; minimal, yet a touch flashy given the amount of metal exposed. It’s clearly not aiming to compete with the aesthetic of a typical watch, yet it doesn’t feel so unfamiliar as to be shocking.
Each watch is made of a single piece of stamped metal, either brass or steel depending on the model.
The dials are then made of matching materials to give a monochromatic look and the sense that the watch is made of a single piece of metal.
The indexes of the dials are not printed, but rather deeply etched into the material, which adds texture and further emphasizes the materiality.
The indexes themselves are fairly detailed, featuring hours and minutes integrated into one index, and a full seconds index on the angled chapter ring.
The only hint of additional color on the whole watch comes from the hands, which are white, black and orange
The brass version, which comes on a brown leather strap, is the rawest and perhaps most masculine.
The fairly simple and unadorned strap emphasizes the simplicity of the watch’s design.
The steel with steel mesh bracelet version is then a touch more elegant, as the material itself is lighter in appearance.
The rose gold version is clearly the most decorative of the collection
The rose gold adds warmth and some decadence to the design. While the rose gold is very appealing.
Height Max (cm) 4
Width Max (cm) 4
Depth (cm) 0.6
Unpacked weight (kg) 0.02
About Tom Dixon
Tom Dixon, OBE (born 21 May 1959, Sfax, Tunisia) is a self-taught British designer specialised in welded salvage furniture.
He was born in Tunisia to a French mother and English father.
In 1963 the family moved house after living in Egypt to England
He attended Holland Park School, London
In 1973 he started a foundation course in an art school but dropped out after six months to be a graphic designer
Far from having a predestination to be a designer, Tom wanted to be a musician. He was a professional musician from the age of 21 to 23.
He recorded an album with the band “Funkapolitan” in Jimmy Hendrix’s studio in New York. It was in 1982 when hip-hop and rap just started. They made it to No. 39 in the UK chart and had a few minutes on Top of the Pops.
During the same period he started to run rap clubs in the London club scene. Unfortunately a motorbike accident stopped him from playing bass guitar, which forced him to leave the band.
Instead he spent more time working for various nightclubs doing promotional activities.
Creating his first objects at the age of 25, becoming one of the most talked-about avant-garde designers.
When Tom had the disco in Berkeley Squares they put on many different events including live welding on stage. This got him back into the craft and design.
The visitors were mostly involved in photography or music and other creative industries and the requests for more designs increased quickly. The creative time took over and Tom decided to spend all of his time on that.
Very quickly, Tom became one of the most talked about avant-garde designers, always seen trying out new materials or applying industrial ideas to high-end design.
Initially Tom created Space in the 1980’s and Eurolounge in 1992. Space was a wholesale company with international business.
The more consumer friendly Eurolounge was started to make design and crafted industrialised artefacts more affordable. By using the technique of rotary moulding a range of products could be done cheaper but without loosing style. It is a widely recognised method, but was a complete new concept at the time.
The first object Eurolounge produced was the “Jack” light that has had enormous success worldwide. In addition to receiving a Millennium Mark in the UK, it has been exhibited in modern art museums around the world such as the Tate Modern in London, the Boston Museum of Fine Art, the London Design Museum, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the MOMA in New York, the Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo, the Victorian & Albert Museum and the Vitra Museum in Basle.
Dixon has been head of design for the Habitat chain of furniture stores (1997), and of the Finnish furniture manufacturer Artek.
His artistic career began when he discovered pleasure in welding while repairing damaged motorcycle frames, after having been forced to leave his band because he broke his leg in a motorcycle accident
Some of his most famous products include the S chair, Bird lounger and the Pylon chair are manufactured by Cappellini
He holds an Honorary Doctorate from Birmingham City University (2004), and was awarded an OBE for services to British Design in 2000.
He has designed objects and interiors for Terence Conran, Jean Paul Gaultier, Romeo Gigli, Ralph Lauren and Vivienne Westwood
Established in 2002, Tom Dixon is a British design and manufacturing company of lighting and furniture.
With a commitment to innovation and a mission to revive the British furniture industry, the brand is inspired by our nation’s unique heritage. Tom Dixon launches new collections annually with products sold more than 60 countries.
Today, Tom still has the same philosophy as when he started. Focus on new applications of traditional materials and forms. He is after all a craftsman more than anything else. Most of his works starts from an inspiration source and then transforms into possibilities of design.
He lives in London with his wife and two daughters