For the Neo watch, our designer Imogen Ayres took cues from the design influences behind the watch to develop the ‘Wim’ typeface, bespoke to Paulin.
Imogen is the mastermind behind our first bespoke font, the Geo, as well. Which you can read about here.
For Paulin’s first custom typeface in 2017, we began by looking at art and architectural movements, finding both Art Deco and Art Nouveau visually rich and relevant to Paulin’s history. Art Deco held a particular significance to us and it was a reaction against post-war austerity and celebrated decoration, and we were keen to move away from the prevailing trend of minimalism in watch design.
When it came to finding a second typographic voice for a new range of watches, we wanted something that continued along this thread. We landed on Postmodernism, which - similarly to Art Deco - was a move away from the starkness of Modernism and playfully combined old and new aesthetics.
During the research process, I deviated somewhat and focused on the work of Dutch graphic designer, Wim Crouwel. Crouwel defied categorisation with his unique approach to design, which revolved around grids but was far from stark or restrained. Crouwel passed away in 2019, mid-way through the design process, so it seemed fitting to name the typeface after him.
Once we’d landed on a theme, I began experimenting with grids. Usually, a lot of type design is about bending rules to make a typeface more elegant or legible, thinning out heavy areas or exaggerating curves. Crouwel’s approach is much more purist, and the resulting typeface always belies the process and the rules behind its construction. It was important to me that our typeface had a similar transparency. Once I was happy with my grid, I played about with corner radiuses and line thickness until the typeface was bold and punchy, and was still legible at small scales.
We took a lot of cues from mid-century watch design, but tried to put our own spin on every element. The layout of the dial itself is quite unusual, with indexes placed inside the numbers, chunky square and circular hour markers, and bold, playful hands which interact with the design elements. The anodised finish of the metal gives it a warmth, and the colour choices reference Wim Crouwel, whilst also being decidedly Paulin. The bubble glass plays with depth in a way that a lot of watches currently on the market shy away from.
I’ve worked with Paulin for a few years now and have enjoyed watching them branch out into other products and grow as a company. On the team, we all share a love of colour and playful design, as well as an aim to choose materials and processes that are sustainable. I also really admire Paulin’s efforts to be a platform for other makers and artists.
To see our new font, Wim, in action find the Neo watch here.
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