It became the best mistake I ever made


By Anneke Short

I was 21 when I went on my first official business trip to Hong Kong. I sat in meetings, took notes, kept track of all the changes to be made to the watch samples and tried to get the most out of the time available.

It was an amazing experience, both personally and professionally and I loved every minute of it. For the first time I was actually seeing the designs that my colleagues and I had been working on over in Switzerland. I wanted to pack them all into my suitcase and take them home with me, to show them off to family and friends; these tiny trophies, proof of all the hard work I had been doing over the past year. These were partly my samples and they were great… or were they?

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I vividly remember the moment when a sample was put on the table that my team and I had spent a decent amount of time on. When I commented on how good it looked I got a very stony reception from my then boss. He proceeded to tell me how wrong the watch was and that it needed to be completely reworked.

You see, in the flurry of all the excitement of actually being able to pick up and hold these real-life tangible versions of drawings that we in Europe had put to paper only a matter of months ago, I had forgotten the most important fact: these watches weren’t designed for me.

Each watch was in fact designed for a specific brand that in turn catered for a specific consumer. That was the utmost important thing to keep in mind as we were checking these samples, not whether or not I liked them, but if the consumer would like them.

Sometimes it just so happens that you do fall into the bracket of a brand’s specific consumer but more often than not it will be for someone else, some other type of consumer that you have to totally understand.

In these moments, you have to take off your business cap and put on your consumer cap; brands need to do it when thinking about how to brief their designers, designers need to do it when working on new pieces and buyers need to do it when choosing their stock.

Now whenever I am making any kind of creative decision, I put my personal taste and desire to one side and ask myself, who is this for?

My first Hong Kong trip proved to be a simple lesson, but one that has served me well ever since.

This column was taken from the May 2013 issue of WatchPro magazine. If you work in the watch industry and would like to write a guest column for the magazine email the editor at

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