Robert Dabi is the mastermind behind ZIIIRO Watches. With ZIIIRO he took watch design to another level. You’ll understand why if you take a look at his work. We are pleased to announce you that we asked Robert Dabi several questions about his work:
How did you get to design watches?
That’s quite simple: I couldn’t find an interesting watch to buy, so I just designed one which I would like to wear myself. So I just started, without further particular plans. It was just a fun project and I wasn’t well versed with watches or product design in general. I ended up with something I thought would be really cool, so I continued to work on naming and branding, and also tried to learn about the possibilities in watch making. At that time, I got to know Derick who helped me with the following steps until that concept became reality.
It is clear that you are interested in the appearance of a watch. The imagination can go really far and there are some things that are probably not possible. How do you make a watch stylish as well as functional?
I noticed that I almost never needed to tell the time to the second. When somebody aksed me for the time, and I looked at my (traditional) watch, even if it was 11:44, I would always say quarter to twelve. I feel time is fluid and can be perceived differently and depending on the person, mood or situation. That’s why ZIIIRO isn’t about pure accuracy. I think nowadays the wrist watch has changed from an accurate time keeper to something that not only tells time, but also expresses your individuality. Our watches are just like that. Our watches don’t follow any guidelines of how a watch should look like. I don’t like to do things because others do it in a certain way, I always think things through from scratch and see what’s neccessary and what not.
Tell us what do you think it’s important when designing a watch.
A watch combines elements of graphic design, industrial design and maybe even architecture, the engineering part of the inner movement aside. But it incorporates all those things in a very small form factor. Even if all elements of a watch are relatively small, you have to put the same effort into its details as you would do when you design a poster, a chair or a house.
You started selling watches in 2010. Which were the most important challenges that you overcome over the years?
Having a graphic design / illustration background, I wasn’t versed with watches and product design before, so there had been lots of challenges. With just having conceptual ideas and not knowing anything about the technical aspects, I had to grow into it, and learn about different things. Basically I learned by trial and error, trying to avoid them next time, and trying to research for what can be done and what not. When I think back to day one, I think I already learned a lot, but there still is much to learn. And especially by making unconventional approaches, there always are new challenges you have to face. Some of them can be overcome, and some can’t.
What is the best asset of the Ziiiro watch?
That it’s fun wearing one and fun looking at it every time. We also often hear from customers that it’s a conversation starter.
The Ziiiro watches are a striking minimalist, at the same time being colourful. How do you get to put these two features together?
It’s in human’s nature to always look for the easiest way to achieve something. Minimal design does just that, that’s why I love it. It’s like the consciousness works, we filter out 99% of all noise around us and concentrate on the important things. That’s why the best designs are just natural. With watches, there is not only functional design, you also have to take in the fun & expressional part of jewellery. People wear them to express themselves. Those are the 2 things I try to put together when designing a watch.
What are you working on at the present moment?
The last things I finished before my break had been our new website and taking photos of our newest model ZIIIRO Eclipse metallic. I just picked up work yesterday because my son was born 6 weeks ago. Today I continued to design a new watch casing, gotta see where this takes me.
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