Great George is a new New York City watch brand that combines affordability with some seriously stylish Bauhaus design. I happened to meet Sean Murray, one of the co-founders of the new company, a while back and asked him to do a little Q&A about the brand. Great George is currently running a Kickstarter to get things off the ground.
Tell us a little about Great George. How did the project come about?
I was tapped by my now-business partner Steve Trayner to design the visual identity for a new watch brand out of New York City.
I was eager to create something tangible that would live beyond the screen so I took a crack at designing the watch, then the packaging, then directed and styled the photography, video and e-comm site and Kickstarter campaign.
Great George is a New York City watch company that thinks outside the circle by designing timeless, Bauhaus-inspired square watches with quality materials at an obtainable price.
What about the design process? How long have you spent designing and testing the watch? Tell us about that experience.
We have spent 14 months designing and developing the product. Much of that working with our factories, sourcing materials and scrutinizing every detail. We’ve gone through several rounds of prototyping and quality checks to bring an excellence to our watch.
I was told by one of our factories that I am “the most detail-oriented client they have”—it was not used as a compliment.
Choosing to use a square has posed some design and manufacturing challenges—but through that we’ve developed some new materials and practices. For instance square watches are often prone to water leaks so we’ve developed a custom square I-ring to make the water resistance of the watch more reliable.
We’ve also invested a large amount of time in the branding. Steve and I both live in that world so we know the importance of a strong visual identity and voice. We’ve collaborated with some of the best talent in the industry like photographer Ben Alsop to create a long-lasting and memorable brand.
This watch is all about the square. Why Bauhaus? Why the square?
We found that many watches today are over-designed—simply for design's sake. I would often ask myself “Sure it’s innovative, but would I be caught dead wearing it?”
That’s why we chose to utilize Bauhaus principles to design Great George.
The Bauhaus school merged design and art with mass production. Many of the products it birthed are still around today. They still exist because they were designed to live beyond a fickle trend and are still functional.
Function was as important as design. We found the square to be a rather ergonomic fit to the wrist. In the past I found myself wearing my watch on my right hand because the crown dug into my left wrist, so we also moved the crown to the 9 rather than the 3. The packaging needed to be functional as well so we made it reusable with a material made famous by the Bauhaus, poured concrete.
On a cheekier note, it’s a slight nod to Bauhaus instructor and artist Josef Albers and his famous color series "Homage to the Square".
Design meets affordability seems to be major theme. Is your goal to add more designs? How important is the affordability aspect?
Steve has been representing fashion watch brands for several years and noticed a hole in the market—a square hole. Square watches have been around, but rarely do you find an affordable one with this level of thought to design.
We wanted them to be versatile so we use a quick release spring bar so swapping straps is easy—making one watch many.
By using quality materials like stainless steel, 100% leather and Swiss Ronda 763 movements (known for its longevity) we've made them to last.
No longer are watch buyers buying just one expensive watch, they are buying multiple watches for every occasion. We don’t plan on being a one-hit-Kickstarter-wonder. We've built a brand.
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