You may remember that back in February this year we launched a competition to design animated faces for smartwatches working with the platform Facer. Later, in April, we announced the winners of the competition with some cool and interesting designs that were then turned into actual watch faces one can download from Facer to a smartwatch. As we are talking about software, it is unsurprising that the platform continues to develop quickly. Now, Facer has announced their latest update with Facer 4.0, part of which is something they call the Watchmaker Series of dials for "official" watch faces from real-world watch brands.
There are currently around 30,000 watch faces in the growing Facer database. While smartwatches and the potential for designers to come up with creative watch faces is exciting, there will naturally be demand for the good design of familiar and iconic watch faces too. But existing watch designs or something too closely mimicking them submitted by third parties are obviously a concern. Let's be honest that this problem is not limited to smartwatch faces, and we also see a lot of "inspired by" design across the watch industry – but let's stick with the topic of smartwatches and Facer for now.
Facer's first solution is to work directly with established brands to offer "official" and "certified" watch faces. For the launch of Facer 4.0, the six brands they are working with are Maurice Lacroix, ArtyA, Snyper, MVMT, Waldhoff, and VAER – the inclusion of ArtyA shouldn't be surprising because ArtyA founder Yvan Arpa has already been involved with the Samsung Gear S3 smartwatch as well as our previous Facer watch face design competition. The watch brands provide dials of existing models that can be enjoyed digitally on smartwatches using Android Wear or Tizen (Samsung's platform). Between the six brands' different models, a total of 16 watch faces are available as of the Facer 4.0 launch.
There is clearly an opportunity for these traditional watch brands to gain the attention of people who both are attracted to their designs and are already accustomed to wearing a timepiece, even if it is a smartwatch. Facer actually surveyed its users and, interestingly, 80% said that they regularly wear traditional watches at least for formal occasions. While Facer says that it gives smartwatch users the chance to "test drive" the traditional brands' watches, watch enthusiasts know that it would be nothing like wearing the watch itself. But it is certainly fun as well as some small way to raise awareness and appreciation of traditional watches – if anything, it may help people to learn about the brand and lead to them trying the watches in person and really seeing the difference. And then they'll be hooked ...maybe.
There are all kinds of things that Facer is also doing to ease brands' worries and encourage them (and designers too) to participate, as well as signal to consumers that a design is legitimate. There is the familiar blue checkmark badge (like on Twitter, for example) applied to accounts on their site that they have positively verified. Facer has also employed a feature called Brand Protector "designed to automatically detect and flag any designs published by users on the Facer platform that may infringe on existing copyrights or trademarks." Can we get something like this for Kickstarter?
It's not as if anyone will see the smartwatch dials as a complete alternative to an actual watch that they like. Smartwatches could, theoretically, simply be wrist-worn gadgets that don't even attempt to reference traditional watches. But the centuries-old watch industry has some lessons for smartwatches, and displaying basic information elegantly is a good place to start – with always-on displays being an eventual necessity. Not only are watch faces an important part of the smartwatch experience, but they are potentially very fun. Imagine switching the watch face between different models or interesting designs you like daily. In addition to more third-party designs, Facer is looking to continue adding to the brands officially represented beyond the initial six. facer.io