Ulli Kampelmann’s Hilariously Ugly Watches

Ulli Kampelmann’s Hilariously Ugly Watches

Ulli Kampelmanns Hilariously Ugly Watches   watch style

I am probably losing a load of karma points for this article. Part of me feels bad because I am in a sense directly criticizing artist Ulli Kampelmann, though I mean nothing personal. I just find her entire collection of watches so bad looking, and in just a funny way, that I had to show them off. I am sure her other types of art work are better.  I don't actually need to say much, because the hilarity sort of speaks for itself. They looks like cliche 80's satire, with a healthy serving of bad taste, and framed by expensive materials such as gold and diamonds. What is even funnier are the images placed with the watches in the little marketing shots on the Ulli Kampelmann site (which you should totally visit if you are in a bad mood as it will make you smile with laughter, I promise).

Ulli Kampelmanns Hilariously Ugly Watches   watch style

Ulli Kampelmanns Hilariously Ugly Watches   watch style

She has a combination of men's and women's watches. The one hideous cream of the crop is the "Jeans Pocket" watch (also in pocket watch form!). The watches are in steel or rose gold plated with a variety of diamonds and other gems for decoration. Straps are high quality materials such as alligator or leather, and the dials are mostly mother-of-pearl or otherwise. So much variety, and each more fugly than the next. Check out the "lifestyle" pick of the guy with the laptop circa 1993, "strong & clever" like a guy in banana yellow shorts and a pink fanny pack.

These images remind me of those non-sequitur motivational posters that were common in the 90's that showed up in offices to replace "fake" office art that is meant to just take up white wall space. These days such posters are mostly gone, again replaced by framed patterns on the wall that look about as bad as the fabric on bus seats designed to hide stains. I think Ulli Kampelmann might have designed a few of those.

Ulli Kampelmanns Hilariously Ugly Watches   watch style

Ulli spent some healthy time with a thesaurus when she came up with these slogan gems. What are the perfect words to describe this creature from the "Blue Lagoon?" Oh yea! "Dark and mysterious." So much better sounding that what she was thinking which was "uninspired scrap metal in black, with blue intestinal lining dial."

Ulli Kampelmanns Hilariously Ugly Watches   watch style

Ulli Kampelmanns Hilariously Ugly Watches   watch style

Looking at the Mandevilla Dance watch I cringe with pain. Why? Because I am reminded of what the tetanus shot will feel like after I cut myself handling this piece of rusty metal that used to be a fishing lure gone terribly wrong.

Ulli Kampelmanns Hilariously Ugly Watches   watch style

Ulli Kampelmanns Hilariously Ugly Watches   watch style

By the way, what the hell does "Jean Pocket. Wanted!" even mean? That isn't even a phrase. But apparently, it is "stylish and sassy." Stylish like wearing the worst fashion mistakes, a combination of the 1980s and 1990s birthed while looking at yourself in the mirror on LSD.

Inside these watches is the same quartz movement over and over, and the hands have that "drug-store, Chinese Timex rip-off" look of quality to them. The funniest part of all is that Ulli takes herself so seriously! I don't think anyone in her life has had the balls to tell her that this crap is embarrassingly bad. Ulli is probably a really nice person, but these watches just don't have what it takes to be taken seriously. So just laugh.

Images here are are from Ulli Kampelmann's website and owned by her, used here for satire or news purposes only.

15 comments
Ulli
Ulli

Hi Ariel. I want to thank you for your comments. I just ran across your blog last night. What with all the admiration my designs have received to date I was beginning to think that everybody loves them and your giggling at my designs brought a bit of balance. Anything you wish to say about my watches will be welcome as it will only help to increase my notoriety. Thanks again. Ulli Kampelmann

Ed
Ed

It's possible that Ulli Kampelmann is actually a very talented designer with a solid understanding of good design, because it actually takes someone very talented to design something so ugly. You might ask why someone would intentionally make something so ugly. The answer is because the ultra-rich do not want to be mistaken for normal people, and one way that they can do this is by buying/owning things that are so . . . let's say un-conventional . . . that no rational person would want to buy or own them for themselves.

A perfect example of this is the Louis Vuitton Tribute Patchwork Bag, aka the Franken-bag. This bag was stitched together from remainders of 15 other Louis Vuitton purses. This was a very limited release, designed by Marc Jacobs. Now, what I don't know about purses would fill a book, but the general consensus, including from my wife, was that it's f'ing hideous. But because it was hideous and exclusive, there was a waitlist to buy them (at 42K a pop) and they sold out immediately.

So I wonder if these watches are in keeping with this general design philosophy (i.e. the ultra-rich want very ugly things to distinguish themselves from common folk). With that philosophy in mind, let's look at the "Blue Lagoon". To me, there's a clear reference to the Cartier Love Ring, which, if you're going to rip something off, is as good a choice as any. But why is it slapped on top of what looks like a square of graph paper? Why does the band look like corrugated tin roofing? What is the swirly blue dial supposed to represent? Coral reefs? It looks more like a topographic map. And why is the galaxy-looking thing there?

It's almost as if the designer intentionally made the exact wrong choices in every case, with the goal of achieving maximum ugliness. And, oddly enough, only someone with a whole lot of talent has the ability to make the exact wrong choice every time. It's similar to this kid I read about who scored the minimum score on the SAT. It turns out he was actually a genius, because you have to know a whole lot to get every answer wrong.

So I submit that it's *possible* that these horrible choices were deliberately and intentionally made to ugly-up the watch, in the interest of selling it to very silly, very rich people with a lot of money to burn. That's the only thing that makes sense to me, because nobody with an ounce of common sense would think that anyone besides the idle rich would ever buy this watch.

Or, maybe there's a much simpler explanation--she just plain sucks at designing watches.

I can't even begin to explain the advertising.

pat i
pat i

Again...I find these watches to be hideous and their advertising is downright hilarious.

I feel Ariel is spot on. I find his reviews to be a refreshing change from the a**kissing articles
and reviews found in the leading magazines. I find it hard to read a Watchtime and read review for a 10K chronograph with among the faults listed was that it did not perform within chronograph standards.

In the end they deemed the watch a good value.
10K...for something that doesn't do what it's supposed to do.

Frankly I don't understand why people treat the watch industry like it's some sort of sacred cow.
They make a product - a complicated product - not unlike cars, computers, machine tools, etc. The difference is - and you can check the magazines dedicated to these products - when they review a prodcut they are honest to the point of bluntness.

If Consumer Reports ever decides to do watch reviews they'll run Nicolas Hayek out on a rail.

C Kelleher
C Kelleher

I do see Leonard's point to some extent - virtually none of the watches mentioned on watch blogs other than this one are ever panned in a review. It seems if the model is mentioned, it gets a thumbs up automatically. To my relatively objective eyes, it is rather amazing that the newest $1,000 Generic Diver Watch # 321 is as stunning as all its other recent iterations...

To be fair to this excellent blog though, I have seen more than a few watches from major companies panned. (See the "Bad Idea Award" category among the brand name list to the right.)

My only complaint is that I might perhaps wish to see such a blistering corporate wide seal of disapproval applied to a more fanboy friendly watch maker who has serious issues, like say Invicta. It's easy for a watch blog to insult a company / designer like Ulli Kampelmann because no watch enthusiasts like her products, but it would be taking more of a risk to condemn Bulova as that might be a sacred cow to at least a few readers!

At the end of the day, I must admit though that these are truly horrible products, so I will not shed too many tears for Ulli.

Leonard H.
Leonard H.

I don't mind that you try and promote your fascination and avocation.
I find your rough dismissal of one individual's entire and varied output inappropriate in light of the degree of effort you devote to find even the slightest excuse for praising the most trivial of alterations to well established brands, or the allowances you normally offer for misbegotten creations, or throwback evocations, even of the unlovable seventies or eighties.
If you were truly critical and disdainful of perceived errors by the majors, and others, I would see this hissy-fit as a normal part of your oeuvre.
There's truly a lot of creative design and engineering genius in your field of interest. There's also a lot that doesn't measure up to that standard, which doesn't mean it should be trashed, and,in fact,it isn't.
Whatever it was that pushed your buttons this time, unless we're dealing with a truly evil entity (which you give no indication of having knowledge of) you really did go off the deep end.
I guess I don't like bullying, and it was a shame to see you indulge your dark side.
You and your peers are lovers,not critics, and to compare would be indiscreet. Something a true Gentleman should never do.

Leonard H.
Leonard H.

I look at your site for the nice pictures, not for the obsequious kowtowing to the powers that are in the industry that feeds your obsession.
Your rant against this woman obviously has nothing to do with her designs (they are certainly no worse than many you find praiseworthy, and much more original than all those endlessly repetitive stalwarts that seem to thrill you with every minute alteration). Her promotions are silly? So be it. I can't wait for the next time you delve deeply into your too-timid-to-offend-the-establishment psyche to discover yet another minuscule reason to promote another insanely overpriced, underwhelming bangle for the unaccomplished but self-important boys.

Jonaldinho
Jonaldinho

Good Lord! Ha Ha!

Good article Ariel, but it nearly put me off my lunch due to spluttering with laughter!

I clicked on the YouTube links and it looks like the early scenes from an 1980's Armenian porn flick - although you'll understand that I've never seen one - no, really!

When she takes the watch from her (ridiculous) jeans pocket, she clearly believes that looking at your wrist for a second is the old fashioned way of doing things. Maybe it is and someday we'll all be wearing one of Ulli's erm... watch thingies.

Most likely not. They're as mad as a fish on a motorbike, as Ms. Kampelmann herself also appears to be! In fact the whole thing seems to be steeped in '80s tastelessness that maybe it's all a joke of some kind??

If not, here is a perfect example of 'Just because you can do something, doesn't mean that you should....'

Meehna
Meehna

I love it when a product inflames your ire, Ariel. It's immensely entertaining for us, though I'm sure there's at least one person who isn't so thrilled. It's startling to me how so much money gets thrown into less than wise ideas. By the way, how does the Dark & Mysterious watch suddenly become a resolute choice in the office?

Dear Ulli, if you want to get some real input about how to design and market watches, get in contact with me. Really. Sincere offer.

Reginaldo Almeida
Reginaldo Almeida

I've never heard of Ulli Kampelmann, and you might be doing a favor to her, showing what she may call art on your blog. You should charge her something, and please, don't accept payment in kind.

pat i.
pat i.

Where's the continental kit and fine corinthian leather?

Not for nothing but is this artist working in a vacuum?

All kidding aside, I love these watches, but my seeign eye dog hates them.

admin
admin

My pleasure Ulli. Thanks for saying hello.

admin
admin

Thanks Pat. Let me explain a bit about why the magazines are all too "positive." Basically it is about advertising. Note that they basically only have watch advertisers. While ideally they would have a distinct separation between advertising and editorial - they don't. It just isn't the business model. So saying negative things basically means that advertisers will be upset and may stop advertising. This has created a very snobby approach from the brands because they feel like they can control a lot of the editorial - as they indirectly pay for them. You can look at the situation as you like, but that is an explanation. As for me, I feel that brands will advertise with me (as they do), not because of what I do for them specifically, but because of what I do for the readers. Just my own personal take on the world of watch editorial. Thanks for your feedback Pat, and everyone else.

admin
admin

Those people who have been reading aBlogtoRead.com for a few years know that I am not afraid to point out issues with all brands, both big and small. Most brands have some validating qualities. For instances, I once wrote about a major problem with a Hamilton watch (the Subzero chrono). It has inexcusable issues, but that didn't mean the entire brand was bad. This brand is pretty much a joke in my opinion. I am not telling people not to buy the watches, but for me, it has little to no redeeming value that makes me take it seriously. I have the ability and inspiration to make humor of it, so I did. Any brand takes that chance when offering a product to the public - they invite criticism. Just like I regularly post comments on my site that disagree with me. I enjoy the discourse.

admin
admin

I appreciate your thoughts Leonard, but these designs are awful minus any opinion I may have. Totally irrespective of the woman who designed them. As for more mainstream brands. I am likely the only one out there who is intelligently calling out major brands when they err. If you find someone who does it better, let me know.

admin
admin

Ire makes for good comedy.

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