Red Dot Award: Product Design

Watch expert Gisbert Brunner in an interview

Fascination for watches: jury member Gisbert Brunner in an interview with Red Dot

Innovation, high quality and excellent functionality – this is what watches that are awarded in the Red Dot Award: Product Design stand for. This year, two manufacturers of the industry received the highest distinction of the competition, the Red Dot: Best of the Best: Bvlgari for the wristwatch “Octo Finissimo Automatic” and TAG Heuer for the smartwatch “TAG Heuer Connected Modular 45 Luxury Kit”. While the former convinced the jury with an exciting interplay between perception and form as well as with its titanium case with integrated titanium strap, the latter amazes with the variety of options it offers. It allows users to individually switch between a smartwatch, a watch module with a modern electronic interior and a high-quality automatic movement with Tourbillon.

Together with his jury colleagues, Red Dot jury member and watch expert Gisbert Brunner assessed the submitted timepieces. As author, he writes amongst others for magazines like Chronos, Handelszeitung, Prestige, Red Bulletin, Terra Mater, Uhren Juwelen Schmuck, Vectura Magazin and ZEIT Magazin. Apart from the three Watch Books, in which Brunner portrays renowned watch brands in words and images, he published more than 20 further books. In an interview with Red Dot, he speaks about the two Red Dot: Best of the Best winners, the evaluation process, trends in the industry and his expectations regarding the next competition year.


Red Dot: How was the jury session?
Brunner: This year, the range of submitted watches was way better than in the years before. As jury, we had a far greater choice of interesting timepieces and it was a pleasure that really good designs, not only visually, but also for the haptic quality, took part. It was just fun to choose.

Did the brands or the products change?
New, and also high-quality brands entered the Red Dot Award. This shows that more brands recognise how important Red Dot is for their image. We assessed products of companies that participated for many years now, but also new brands took part.

How do you assess a watch during the adjudication?
The jury is very strict. We start with the visual quality. During this first step, we test whether the product is pleasing to the eye. Afterwards, the haptic quality is evaluated by touching and feeling the watch and by putting it on. The third step is the assessment of the functional component and the manufacturing quality. We had a watch that looked really good, but it was not possible to pull out the crown without breaking a fingernail. This way, the product disqualified itself for a Red Dot, which is a pity.

You awarded two products with the Red Dot: Best of the Best. What made you choose these watches?  
The Bulgari Octo is a classic. In the course of the years, it went through various stages of evolution and has been the flattest automatic wristwatch worldwide last year. It is now a little bit outdated, but this does not change its design quality. Furthermore, the watch has a very light titanium case and strap. To wear something like that is like a dream. Also, the optical appearance is just wonderful. The octagon, combined with the rounds and the grey dial, is a pleasure to the eye, but also a pleasure to wear. The TAG Heuer, on the contrary, offers an enormous variety. In this box, you have different straps and tools. Depending on what you want to wear, you have a smartwatch with different dials and with different smart functions. If I want to dine with my friends in an excellent restaurant, I exchange the smartwatch by a chronograph. What else could you wish for?

What do you expect from a good watch?
What I expect from a good watch is that it fulfills the time function. This means that it is easy to read. If I have to look through a magnifying glass, the visual quality is unsatisfactory. The dial and the hands make up the watch. This is why their relation has to be in balance. I have to add that the dial makes up 80% of the overall impression. Furthermore, the housing and the strap have to form a unity with the dial and the hands. Whether expensive or cheap, quartz or mechanical movement – I want to feel the excellent value of a watch. It is revealed when I put it on or when I pull out the crown. At the end, the whole product counts and the overall picture comprises the visual and haptic quality as well as the technical execution.

Are there any trends in the watch industry?
The watch industry invigorates retro and the designs of the 50s and 60s. Why? Because the industry recognises that the vintage market is booming. Many people buy old watches. The new luxury is vintage. Of course, the range of vintage watches in good condition is limited. This is why one counts on watches with vintage look. The major advantage of these models is that they do not become obsolete. They were modern in 1950 or 1960, they are modern now again and somehow, they will be modern in 20 years.

What fascinates you about watches?
What fascinates me about watches is that you can take them with you everywhere. As a man, you have your wedding ring, your cufflinks and your watch. Most of the time, you look more often on your watch than in the mirror. This is why the watch has a very personal value for me. It fascinates me and I don’t want to be without it.

What do you expect from the Red Dot Award: Product Design 2019?
I hope that more and more renowned watch brands feel addressed through the composition of the jury. That they notice that the jury is reliable, takes the right decisions with a lot of effort, love and discussion and at the end chooses and awards the right products.

Submission still possible until 1 February 2019

The range of offered timepieces has never been broader than today. Watch enthusiasts can look ahead with a sense of expectation: if innovation and openness for experimenting remain the drivers of the watch industry, they can look forward to completely new experiences on the wrist. Designers and manufacturers still have until 1 February 2019 to submit their newest models to the Red Dot Award: Product Design 2019. During the Early Bird phase, which still runs until 9 November 2018, they profit from reduced registration fees. Besides the category “Watches”, the applicants can choose between 47 other product groups – from home and seating furniture to bicycles and bicycle equipment to medical technology and robotics.