Designing an Automatic Watch from Wood.

In 2017, two friends and I began a startup that set out to create automatic watches from curated local wood. It was called Cambium. All of us were deeply invested in this project. We quit our full-time jobs for a while, relied solely on our savings, and worked from a rented apartment in the outskirts of the city. We had a 6-month deadline to build a prototype.

Client Cambium   Role Co-founder, Branding, Product Design, Research
Tools used Photoshop, Notion, Blender, Keyshot, Premiere Pro

We wanted to make something very valuable that will help promote the idea of nature and how it is so important and connected to the small things in our daily life. That's when we came up with the idea of a watch. A timepiece that is given a detailed attention in the time of it's making will survive generations. Also it is something that we glance at several times during our daily life. We figured it would be wonderful to be reminded of nature every time you take a look at your hand.

I read a lot of books on watchmaking and researched exhaustively. But after we met a watchmaker in Bangalore, India, we got an insight into the practicality of watchmaking. He invited us to stay and experience his process.

So many sketchbooks
Even though I am not a traditional student of Industrial Design, the idea of creating something with a lot of restrictions was exciting enough for me to fill up several sketchbooks since we started. We came up with many innovative solutions like the way we use steel and wood together to make the timepiece last generations, while never compromising the outer beauty of the watch. Our aim was to design something that's never been done before.

While my primary focus is in interface design and making digital products, as a designer who is driven by curiosity, I can't help but be excited about learning new ways to solve problems with design. The process was the same for this one.

‍ Understand -> Design -> Make it real. I know about the process needed to design a great experience. I believe this is all you need to design anything that is usable, efficient, and user-friendly for the user.

“If you can design one thing, you can design everything.”
‍Massimo Vignelli

Final Stretch
We created a brand, Cambium. We also managed to make a physical prototype. Unfortunately, by the end of this journey, we were exhausted. Even though we created a website and a nice deck to sell the story with, we couldn't get funds necessary to manufacture these watches to sell. Most of the investors and the people I cold emailed during this phase wanted to support us by buying one piece. But with the imported machines from Switzerland and the masterful woodwork and the time it takes to bring it together - it was simply too much for us to handle at that stage.

By this point, we had run out of resources to put into the watch - and we had to focus on other projects that needed more attention. But during the last couple of weeks, I was restless and wanted to try crowdfunding the watch on kickstarter. If we could run a successfully planned campaign, we could produce the 150 watches and be proud of having something out there - before we quit.

But, unfortunately - kickstarter didn't work out because of a lot of complications regarding the fact that you cannot run a campaign from India. But we managed to shoot and edit a video before we moved on to other projects.

This is the video 👇