By: Lee Yuen-Rapati
It’s funny what taking away the hour and second hands from the middle of a dial does to a watch. The minute hand seems almost lonely, rotating around an axis of one. When Christian suggested that I draw a regulator watch for my next featured piece on Theo & Harris, I jumped at the challenge of creating a design that would not abandon any one of the three hands involved in telling the time.
A few choices I made before starting the drawing were to use a reverse panda color scheme for the dial, a lot of modern regulators with one-color dials can feel sparse, with the three disparate hands lost in a sea of monotony. To combat that monotony I chose some textured paper to simulate a grained dial (like the ones produced by Nomos). Textured paper can sometimes be challenging to work with, it dulls your pencil lead, and bleeds your markers dry, but it produces an unparalleled tactility in finished illustrations. I would fully recommend that anyone interested in marker or gouache based illustration pick up some textured paper and go wild!
For the design of the case, I wanted the bezel to be nice and thin so that the dial could really take precedence. The lug width is quite wide so as to promote the tool-y nature of regulator watches, I also envision this watch would conform to a more vintage diameter, and I didn’t want a narrow shoestring strap in between the lugs! The vintage influence can also be seen in the design of the numerals, I absolutely adore vintage watch numerals (especially the boxy 4) and quite a few modern manufacturers could (re)learn a thing or two by using these style of numerals instead of the boringly default glyphs we see on watches today. Getting to draw a bunch of wide and boxy vintage style numbers on the dial of this regulator was a real treat.
The colors used on this watch were a blue-grey for the main dial, a few different warm greys for the minute track, a bevy of cool greys for the case and the subdials, and a few hits of red to inject some energy. I wanted the hands to be understated but interesting, so I gave them a two-piece construction with their own individual form, and to make sure that the minute hand didn’t feel lonely, I colored it bright red so it was impossible to miss. The minute and hour hands are lumed, but in the rush of finishing the drawing I completely forgot to add lume pips at each of the 5-minute markers. Upon scanning the drawing, I also realized that I had neglected to add in the full seconds track which definitely should be included on any regulator.
This design follows the archetypal regulator layout, and it was an interesting and ultimately rewarding challenge in playing with that layout to create a watch that mixes new with old, and conservatism with zeal. I’m interested to hear what you think, what companies are producing interesting regulators? Do you get thrown off by the placement of the hands? What do you look for in a well designed regulator?