Until recently, Timex Chief Executive Creative Director Giorgio Galli had never before experienced his own name on the dial of a timepiece, despite being responsible for countless designs. The professional designer from Italy is part of Timex’s design studio located (naturally) in Milan. In addition to being responsible for a number of today’s accessibly priced and hiply detailed Timex brand watches, Mr. Galli is also responsible for much of the licensed timepiece creation work that the Timex Group does for major fashion houses, such as Salvatore Ferragamo and Versace.
In 2019, Timex debuted the Giorgio Galli S1 Automatic watch on aBlogtoWatch here. The now-celebrated timepiece began its life with a silver dial, and the news today is that a matte-blue dial option will now also be available starting in March 2021, while the original silver-dial model is now coming back into stock. Since the debut of the Galli S1 Automatic watch, Timex has been struggling to keep them in stock due to consumer demand.
What made the Galli S1 Automatic watch so popular with timepiece enthusiasts probably has to do with the uncommon combination of original design, comfort, and legibility, as well as position in a rare affordable price point of under $500. Timex used the Galli S1 Automatic experience to experiment with some novel production techniques, as well as determine its ability to strike a meaningful chord with demanding wristwatch aficionados. While the Galli S1 Automatic timepiece is an easy-to-appreciate product success story, its immediate adoption by the wristwatch community was, indeed, a pleasant surprise for Timex.
The Galli S1 Automatic watches are 41mm-wide in a semi-skeletonized steel case that is water-resistant to 50 meters and capped with a mineral crystal. The case is 11mm-thick and paired with a novel strap system that is both interchangeable and uses a new type of strap-securing mechanism. Inside the watch is a Japanese-made automatic mechanical movement. Retail price for the Timex Galli S1 Automatic watch is $450 USD.
Now in the second year of Galli S1 Automatic watch production, Mr. Galli himself returns to aBlogtoWatch to offer his thoughts on the appeal of the Galli S1 Automatic collection, in general, as well as to discuss the next steps for his design vision, including the upcoming release of the Galli S1 Automatic Blue.
aBlogtoWatch: As a designer, what did you learn about the Timex customer that you did not already know based upon the overwhelming level of interest in and support for the Galli S1 watch, the first Timex with your name on it?
Giorgio Galli: It has been 15 years since I started to design Timex watches, so I really feel the DNA of the brand runs in my veins. I have seen the changes over time, I have witnessed the brand expansion and the brand-new appreciations. I have seen the customers’ reactions, I have seen new customers’ appreciation of the brand. I have read the comments and reviews, and I have listened closely.
I was very honored to create a Timex with my name on it. Then I thought to myself, OK, this is the moment when I want to take Timex and its customers a step further. I think both parts are ready. It will be an adventure we all share. New watches, new characteristics, a different price… But with all the best details and characteristics and inherent DNA of a heritage brand.
I was confident when this project began because I knew I was designing and creating a unique watch. I was honored with the support received from both internal and external, from media, consumers, and friends. I think my passion for the project and the watch came through strong.
aBlogtoWatch: The S1 case is just as complicated as very expensive ones that are carefully CNC-machined, but Timex uses a different process to make the cases. Can you explain a bit about the technology that goes into the production of these interesting semi-skeleton cases — and how that technology will be used in future Timex products?
Giorgio Galli: We use a production process called MIM (or Metal Injection Molding). MIM technology is the most efficient technique available when it comes to high tolerances and complex parts, where it is difficult, or even impossible, to efficiently manufacture an item through other means of fabrication. In other words, MIM allows us to make highly detailed parts efficiently enough to offer them in watches at prices the market has more or less never seen before.
The metal injection process uses a metal compound made with binders and powdered metals that are injected into a mold. What we achieved on the S1 is a high level of precision, at the lowest cost to production. We are certainly going to use this technology again, but not at even lower price points — at least not yet — due to the high cost of the mold-making process.
aBlogtoWatch: For those not familiar with you and your work, can you help explain what the Galli S1 watch added to the larger Timex product portfolio personality that was missing or needed further embellishment, in your opinion? How does the Galli S1 product and design help take Timex in the direction you have envisioned for it?
Giorgio Galli: My work as the Chief Executive Creative Director started many years ago, and it has been a step-by-step process that has led to strong brand recognition. I think people have appreciated all the work and dedication Timex has put into coming back strong in the watch industry and the marketplace.
It is a long-term strategy that has been extremely satisfying and encouraging, especially when we see the results right away, as with the original Galli S1. Our portfolio is stronger than ever and is well-balanced between new models, reissues, and collaborations — the latter being a domain in which we are one of the most active brands on the market.
I wanted my S1 Automatic to add something to the brand free from any commercial barriers and prejudices. The design was not revealed to anyone inside the company except the CEO, Tobias Reiss- Schmidt, until it was in an advanced and near-final phase. If I get the opportunity to work on that level again, any future S series will carry the same spirit and passion as the S1 Automatic.
Timex is ready to enter new spheres and expand its portfolio with a renewed personality. We are extremely proud of our past but need to look forward to our future and be able to endorse new directions in order to overcome any skepticism, because the brand is strong and ready for that kind of evolution.
aBlogtoWatch: Stepping back a bit, I want you to help answer the question of how to design an effective modern/contemporary timepiece if today’s wristwatches are copies of designs from the past. It is more uncommon for a modern-looking wristwatch to get immediate consumer favor (a practice that can take years of consistent messaging)? Explain any formulas or theories you apply to the design of a contemporary watch that helps it feel familiar and approachable to today’s audiences.
Giorgio Galli: I think modernity or contemporaneity in design has to be related to the brand. Some can have access to that, some not. The trust and familiarity of the consumer will come from the ability of the brand to propose and endorse modernity to a consumer. Thus, in some ways, the brand dictates the legitimacy of a modern or contemporary design. The actual visual creation must come second, after it becomes logical for our (or any) brand to pursue it.
Internet and social media have been instrumental in developing an interest in vintage-style watches and helping a wider and younger audience to get to know designs and products that were once exclusive to niche connoisseurs and watch collectors. Following this trend, many watchmakers are celebrating their heritage more and more with expansions of their most famous pieces in a traditional way, or with reissues of past models; therefore, copies or designs from the past are making the consumer comfortable and reassuring them that they’re making the right choice.
There is not a design formula in my process. I consider it more like a methodology that evolves with time. If we look back at the first and longest part of my work at Timex, since day one of my collaboration, I went to look into the history of the brand in a way to find a lost path and to give back a precise identity to the brand, in order to stand out in a saturated market.
Once the path was established and we gained the trust of our consumers, we could go further and push to more contemporary designs. But again, here, the importance of the brand DNA is essential in consideration of a very wide transversal consumer base. The S1 one is a perfect example of that — a mix of tradition and modernity, keeping in mind the importance of this brand’s identity.
aBlogtoWatch: The latest version of the Galli S1 watch is a blue-dial variant to add to the original silver-dial variation that was debuted in 2019. Give us some hints about the aesthetic journey future S1 watches will take, and finally where S2 and subsequent watches will go from a design and complexity perspective.
Giorgio Galli: I like dark, deep blue, and considering the design and the genesis of the S1, I think it is a perfect color for an additional version. Looking to my wardrobe, I do wear a lot of dark blue…In addition to that, I have thought that the blue dial was a perfect fit overall for the S1: It is a color that is not revolutionary but would be the right one to just emphasize the classic/modern design features of the watch.
Before a future S2, there is an S1-38, a 38mm case size of the S1 with few small changes that will launch in Fall 2021. The S2 is still in progress but will take the watch another step or two further.
aBlogtoWatch: Now that consumer popularity for the Galli S1 watches has been confirmed, what will Timex do with this knowledge that could have an effect on other products, marketing strategies, or ways of communicating with timepiece aficionados?
Giorgio Galli: First of all, we never take anything for granted. The S1 was a success, and in order to continue, I will put in all my creativity, expertise, and knowledge to keep on producing great products. Timex aficionados are absolutely amazing, and you don’t want to disappoint them. They know better than anyone the history of the brand and its vintage pieces, they know where the brand comes from, and they are loving where we are taking it.
So really, I think our strategy will not change but evolve naturally; the path is marked. We will keep on being true to ourselves and to the brand, and keep on creating and producing great-designed products at an affordable price. And even if the price of certain watches will be higher than they usually are, like in the case of the S1, our entire focus is to ensure the quality and the design are worth far more than the price. Always.
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