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Original Grain watches: The nature of the modern watch expressed perfectly

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A watch is certainly a fashion accessory. Today, it is common to carry a phone and easily get by without a watch and probably most of you already do exactly that. Still, I enjoy watches. My watch battery died last week and I decided I wasn’t in a hurry to replace it and didn’t need to grab a backup. I decided to go without a watch and see if I really cared.


I missed my watch more than I expected. Perhaps most of my generation, and certainly those of the next generations, won’t really feel the sense of loss that I felt without one, but for me it was tangible. I did get my battery replaced earlier this week and have felt so much more comfortable since.


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It is in this context that I came across a new watch company called Original Grain that launched on Kickstarter yesterday (yes, I’m addicted to KS now).



Original Grain is introducing 3 watches that combine wood and the metal components for a hybrid solution. They say it is to address the chief issue with all-wooden watches where the watch is too lightweight and doesn’t “have that real-watch feel.” I haven’t worn a wooden like that, but I do wear a thin Skagen lately so I don’t mind a lightweight timepiece. Still, I like that they are taking a fresh approach and with a purpose to improve the wooden watch experience.


Another thing I really appreciate about their approach is that they have anchored their designs to the environment that has inspired them. The founder is from the Pacific Northwest and currently lives in Hong Kong. One of the color schemes echoes the Pacific Northwest with matte black stainless steel with a contrasting green sandalwood Contemporary-styled face and accents. The Rosewood design features bright stainless steel with dark rosewood classic-styled face and accents. A third is inspired by Southern California with matte black stainless steel and a light Maple face.


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Even the packaging echoes their clash of natural and modern design. The box planned for their watch line is an all-natural bamboo eco-friendly clamshell with a laser-etched Original Grain logo.


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Finally, I really appreciate the level of attention to the story that goes into their presentation about these watches. I love that they have invested so much attention to the designs, tell the history of their story, explain their brand identity and cultural roots clearly, and appeal to me to join them in their journey to improve wooden watch design. In the end, I wouldn’t be interested if I didn’t genuinely find the product appealing, but these other experience elements create a more emotional and attractive product offering. I find myself wanting to tap into the level of style, class and originality that they emote in their video and introduction.


I believe that they have nailed the formula for providing a unique and distinctive modern accessory backed with a story and culture. The future for fashion accessories is bright.


I haven’t pledged my support just yet, but an Original Grain watch will have to go on the birthday wish list… if I can just decide which design I like the best.


(hint: It’s the Green Sandalwood PNW)


Articulate Wallets: Another great product design accelerated by Kickstarter

I came across a Kickstarter project that caught my interest. The Articulate Wallet is a sleekly designed new leather wallet that adds a new twist to the traditional wallet.
Articulate Wallet
You can visit their Articulate Wallet Kickstarter project and see more of their story, but the key is their effort to combine the best of the wallet and money clip:
We took all the great features of wallets and money clips and put them into one affordable, stylish,and sleek leather design.
articulate outsides
articulate insides
There are two unique approaches that I really like in their design:
  1. Elastic bands instead of leather pockets
  2. Special slide out pocket for most-used credit/debit card.
Fewer Pockets
The simple single-fold design minimizes the amount of leather and material in the wallet itself. Also, the simple ‘X’ bands of elastic hold a small stack of cards on each side to allow you to carry multiple cards in minimal space. They would still be fairly easy to access. I just hope that they have done a good job choosing elastic that will hold up to the wear and retain it’s elasticity for a few years. This improvement applies to the very most common use case for the wallet – sitting in the pocket. Suddenly, your wallet is smaller in the pocket, less noticable, less uncomfortable. It also improves the closely related use cases of removing the wallet from a pocket and returning it there.
articulate x slot
Perfect Pocket
Besides the wide cash pocket, there is only one other pocket in the Articulate wallet. It’s on the outside of the wallet and it’s designed to give you quick access to your most used credit or debit card. Once you place a card in the wallet, you can slide it part way out the side of the wallet by accessing it from a slot in the pocket. Simply extend the card, swipe it for payment and slide it back securely in the pocket. If this works as promised, it’s a game changer for wallet design. I would love not having to open my wallet to swipe my credit card several times a day. It totally streamlines one of the most common use cases for a wallet – accessing the primary credit card.
articulate slide
An Experience Designed Product
I always enjoy seeing an example where someone has been inventive in improving a common object in a way that genuinely considers common use cases for the product. In this case, they have minimized the wallet toward a couple of really important use cases, pocket storage and credit card access. Some other use cases may be less-realized (no family photos, no fanning of cards for quick recognition, no ‘secret’ pockets, etc.), but for those that care only about the key functions, this will be a welcome trade-off.
I also have to give props to Kickstarter for giving these 2 college guys a chance to see their product idea through to reality. They have been able to take the project from design stage and meet the minimum order quantity with their supplier by leveraging the crowd-funding power of a Kickstarter project. Kudos, guys!
Anyone else interested in the Articulate Wallet? What do you think?
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