Does the Apple Watch Reflect Jony Ive’s Love of Past and Future?

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The Apple Watch has been displayed to the world and the jury is out on its genius.

But one thing that some pundits seem sure of, this is a product of Tim Cook’s tenure.

Or rather, is it Jony Ive’s baby? Based on a past encounter with the lauded designer, DnA thinks it might be.

The Apple Watch has been displayed to the world and the jury is out on its genius. 

A battery that lasts less than 24 hours? A device that operates only in tandem with the iPhone? A “wearable” when the public appears to prefer its tech apart from its body?

But one thing that some pundits seem sure of, this is a product of Tim Cook’s tenure. “Make no mistake, this is Tim Cook’s baby,” wrote Forbes’ Gordon Kelly.

Or rather, is it Jony Ive’s baby? Based on a past encounter with the lauded designer, DnA thinks it might be.

Sir Jony Ive is Apple’s powerful head of design and important influences on his work include German product designer Dieter Rams — and his dad.

Yes, his father, Michael Ive, was a silversmith who also helped develop national standards for British design education, and steeped his son in the U.K. tradition for designing and making

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DnA’s Frances Anderton, right on stage, chats with Jony Ive, Apple’s head of product design, at an SFMoma fundraiser honoring Ive (October, 2014; photo, Drew Altizer).

Ive spent childhood years tinkering in his father’s workshop; together the two once restored an Austin Healey Sprite. Ive is now driven around in a classic Bentley Mulsanne.

So Ive brings a reverence for tradition and craftsmanship to the design of some of the world’s most forward-looking products.

He spoke about this last year at an SF MOMA fundraiser (above) at which he was being honored.

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I interviewed him onstage at that event about his life and approach to design.

When it came to the Apple Watch, he spoke of timepieces historically, placing them in a societal continuum, from one clock in the town square, to large home (grandfather) clocks, to smaller pocket (fob) watches; and finally, the wrist watch.

He also said, “The technology associated with timekeeping is fascinating…we are starting to minimize, miniaturize and become more reliable.

“When you design a phone there are less expectations. Designing a watch, it starts the same thing, but you are not going to wear a space capsule on your wrist.” 

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It seems the elegant Apple Watch befits the Bentley-driving Ive very well, even if it is unlikely to last as long as his native country’s most famous timepiece: Big Ben, built in 1859 and still counting at 156 years.

Read more about Jony Ive in this recent New Yorker profile.

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DnA’s Frances Anderton, right, stands with her stunningly successful countryman Sir Jony Ive, under a blow-up photo of the designer at an SF MOMA fundraiser. (October, 2014; photo, Drew Altizer)