The German brand known for its modern industrial designs, has revived its first analogue wristwatches, the AW 10 and the subsequent AW 50 in totally faithful reissues
By Caitlin McDonald
When Dieter Rams began designing for Braun in 1955, he applied his Bauhaus-influenced ‘less is better’ approach to radios, record players, clocks, even travel clocks.
The first Braun wristwatch, however, did not make an appearance until 1977. Designed by Rams and Dietrich Lubs, the DW 20 featured a round black case with a rectangular digital display.
The company’s first analogue wristwatch, the black AW 10, was launched in 1989. It has Helvetica white numerals and an eye-catching yellow second hand, based on the 1975 AB 20 travel clock. Long, thin hour markers are counted by baton hands.
The functional dial adheres to many of Rams’ rules of good design: it’s aesthetic and unobtrusive, with every detail considered.
Most thoroughly of all, it embodies Rams’ final principle of good design, a tenet that Braun applied across its whole range: ‘Good Design Is as Little Design as Possible: Less, but better – because it concentrates on the essential aspects, and the products are not burdened with non-essentials. Back to purity, back to simplicity.’
Deeply functional wristwatch design has become a solid trend, thanks to brands like Nomos and Uniform Wares. Rams’ original designs laid the foundations of what we now think of as ‘minimalist design’ – for Rams, that was the entire point.
In fact, his 7th principle of good design shuns trends altogether: ‘Good Design Is Long-lasting: It avoids being fashionable and therefore never appears antiquated. Unlike fashionable design, it lasts many years – even in today’s throwaway society.’
The Braun AW 50
Two years after the AW 10 came the AW 50, an even more pared-back model with a silver dial: no numerals, no second hand, no minute track.
One addition came in the form of a date window at 3 o’clock, indicated by a red chevron which seems almost indecently decorative against its sparse surroundings. Like the yellow second hand, this became a Braun staple.
Every detail has been kept the same for the reissue of the AW 10 and the AW 50: made in Germany, both cases are 33.25mm in stainless steel, held on leather straps. Both are priced at £200.