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JOURNAL

IN RETROSPECT

OLE MATHIESEN WATCHES OVER THE PAST 58 YEARS

For decades now, fine mechanical watches have been contrasted with digital quartz watches. Wearing a mechanical watch makes an explicit anti-digital statement. It embraces a concept that originated not only well before the computer, but even before electricity was harnessed. It tells time but is timeless. It is a fragment of eternity encapsulated.  But that has not always been the case. The first digital mechanical wristwatches were created in the 1920s as a discreet way of telling time.  Ole Mathiesen developed his “Digital Jumping Hours” in the late 1960s as a philosphical comment to time. Although individual minutes are not shown digitally (only every 5, 10, 15 and so on), Ole Mathiesen’s “Digital Jumping Hours” was groundbreaking in its construction and how now the digital display could be read from left to right.

Inspired by the creative spirit that influenced Danish architecture and design in the 1960s, Ole Mathiesen launched its first simple watches in 1962, and they have since become classics. The intention at the time was not to establish the foundation of a brand, but rather to make a watch that Ole Mathiesen felt was missing.

The watches Ole Mathiesen produced in the following decades were created with the same fundamental consideration. From practical, philosophical and aesthetic perspectives, many of the watches were the first of their kind. Take the prize-winning classic from 1962. A discrete affordable classic. “Digital Jumping Hour” from 1969. It had a horizontal digital display some years before the digital quartz watches. The playful “Bubble Watch” was a waterproof summer watch cast in plastic and introduced in 1972, long before Swatch entered the watchmaking scene.  Despite the wide range of models represented, the Danish watchmaker has a sure sense of style that marks the brand.

At the start of the millennium, Christian Mathiesen, representing the third generation in the watchmaking family, entered the business intent on building the brand. With a classic yet innovative approach, he aimed to create a number of collections with ties reminiscent to the history and legacy of the company. New generations of Ole Mathiesen watches are marked by the uncompromising certainty and the impeccable materiality embodied by the “classic” from 1962.

The current goal is to appeal to younger clients who appreciate the understated, classic yet modern design.

Since this generational shift, the refined dials and signaling value of Ole Mathiesen watches are increasingly appealing to a younger generation. The design philosophy behind Ole Mathiesen watches was established in 1962 and the ambition is still to create simple timepieces with harmonious proportions and high quality materials at affordable prices.

The design expression is rooted in the Danish design traditions from the 1960s, which were strongly influenced by the Bauhaus mantra “form follows function.” Christian Mathiesen and the Research & Development department draw on these traditions when designing new watches. “A simple, understated, elegant form of expression is in our DNA,” said Christian Mathiesen.

While Ole Mathiesen designed a watch because he felt that it was missing in the market, Christian Mathiesen designs new watches and models to harmonize the range of the brand. Innovations are rooted in the company’s long history. The small Copenhagen-based watch company has been striving toward perfection since 1919. Values that made up the foundation one hundred years ago, were based on quality, honesty, ingenuity and focus on detail. When Ole Mathiesen designed his first watches in the early 1960s, he built on that foundation, and it still constitutes the backbone the watchmaking business now led by Christian Mathiesen.

The small family-owned business enjoys the independence that enables it to design, develop and produce watches without consideration for temporary shifts and fluctuations. Things are still done with respect for the history of the company and past generations of watchmakers.

The stylistic consistency of the clean and simple aesthetic is what makes the watch feel so right now, in the present, just as it did in the past and will for many years to come. The distinctive features of the Ole Mathiesen design seem to project an inner strength. This is a versatile watch that can be worn for any occasion, a classic that people of any age are proud to wear