For many, the humble watch is no longer relevant now that smartphones exist, but you only need to wander around the huge halls at the Baselworld watch fair, peer into the display cases holding the best watches that only Premier League footballers could afford to tell you that the time has not run out for the wrist worn device just yet.
Speculation continues to mount that the likes of Apple and Samsung could be venturing into the watch-making business and while that may not have Rolex and Tag Heuer quaking in its boots, a company like Casio who have been making digital and analogue watches for some time could perhaps feel the affects of a major tech player like Apple wading in on its territory.
To discuss all things watches, both smart and traditional, we sat down with Casio Edifice Design Manager Mr Moriai, Global Marketing Manager Mr Shimazu and Manager of R&D Mr Karasawa all based out of Casio headquarters in Japan plus Head of Casio Marketing Tim Gould to find out about its new Edifice watch brand, its relationship with technology innovators Red Bull and whether they are worried about the chaps from Cupertino.
What was the inspiration behind the Edifice brand?
Basically we have a concept called and ‘Speed and Intelligence’. We always want to keep some brains or intelligence using our original movement. On this occasion we have introduced a sensor chronograph which is our theme for Edifice this year. We have focused on developing the compass sensor. In the past the compass sensor was the size of the watch face. We have now been successful in miniaturizing that so it’s been downsized by almost 95%.
Tim: Casio is quite a unique brand because we are a technology company and what we have been able to do with Edifice is combine technology with things like our processors and combine that with a traditional analogue watch. So this is a unique position. Analogue has always been thought of as mechanical and now we can use our processors to do different things like the compass or other sensors that can be illustrated with analogue dials. That means we have a unique combination of these two things.
How did the relationship with Red Bull Racing come about?
The Red Bull racing team is very different from teams like McLaren and Ferrari. They are the established Formula 1 teams. Red Bull Racing are a new chapter in Formula 1 racing, they are radical and have new ideas. They are very enthusiastic and young so that’s why we built the synergy. They are quite intelligent which is integral to achieving the performance so that’s why we felt a strong synergy with them.
Tim: There is a real synergy between the two in terms of technology, the way that they approach design and the way that they approach everything that they do in terms of production. It is always a good synergy with Casio also trying to push the boundaries of the watch brand.
How involved does Red Bull get in the design and manufacturing process?
We actually carried out some research with their engineers. We sent some staff to visit their factories and at that time we did some interviews with some of the mechanics who said they wanted ‘that’ kind of watch and ‘that’ kind of function. For instance, the compass itself doesn’t seem to have any connection with Red Bull Racing, but actually they travel a lot. They appreciate the World Time feature and also like the compass. There are lots of things we can learn from them.
So Red Bull likes to be very hands-on with the process?
Yes they do. That’s very good for us because it draws the two brands together. It makes it more about sponsorship which is something that anyone can do. It’s actually about two different things trying to push the boundaries.
For the latest Edifice watch we have a used a vibration resistant structure, it really comes from their request. At the initial stages, we had a general movement Edifice. Sometimes we supply them to test and we want them to survive tough situations like being in the pits.