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There might not be another name that towers over the world of design in the same way as Frank Lloyd Wright. He’s the rare architect that has come to be a true household name – even folks who don’t consider themselves art historians or architecture buffs are likely to know who he is, and can probably name at least one of his many iconic buildings. Importantly, he not only designed buildings (including private homes and public spaces) but considered every detail pertaining to their interior. Furniture, carpeting, light fixtures, and other details were well thought out in his designs, so it seems fitting that Bulova has partnered with the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation on a series of watches that celebrate and emulate those small touches that make Frank Lloyd Wright such an important figure.
This collection celebrates the 80th anniversary of the Frank Lloyd Wright foundation, and features three watches that pay homage to his designs in different ways. First up is the December Gifts limited edition, a gold tone rectangular timepiece featuring a dial design dominated by a series of geometric shapes. December Gifts is something of a Wright deep cut: the design is based on a series of magazine covers Wright made for Liberty magazine in the late 1920s. The stylized representations of holiday gifts, wrapped and bowed, was thought to be too avant-garde for the day, and the drawings were never published. The caseback of the limited edition features an inscription of the “Organic Commandment,” which highlights the importance Wright placed on geometry in his designs, and is foundational to his design philosophy. This quartz watch is limited to 500 pieces, retails for $475, and includes an embossed wooden display box.
Bulova is also releasing a non-limited December Gifts inspired watch with a Miyota automatic movement. The dial here has a similar reliance on geometric patterns, but is broken up by the open-heart window at 6:00 that allows the wearer to view the movement in action. This watch is 39mm in diameter, with a mineral crystal, and retails for $425.
The third watch in this series is a simple rectangular ladies piece. Here, the inspiration is a Wright designed fabric pattern. My favorite detail on this watch is the way the applied hour markers at the cardinal positions blend in almost imperceptibly to the patterned dial. It’s also, in my opinion, dominated by a particularly pleasing gray tone. The faceted case is paired with a stainless steel bracelet, and carries a list price of $275.
While it’s certainly open to debate what Frank Lloyd Wright would have thought of his designs being used in this way, and with his own name printed on the dials of these watches, they seem to me to be well intentioned tributes to Wright’s legacy. It would have been easy (and far less appealing) to, for example, include a representation of Taliesin of Fallingwater on these dials, but Bulova deserves credit for taking a more abstract approach, and considering the breadth of Wright’s influence. Bulova