Swedish watch design is given a contemporary rethink in the hands of industrial designer and mechanical engineer Ola Stray, who has debuted the elegant mechanical wristwatch with his brand Strayer.
Discover Swedish watch design with Strayer
‘I’ve been interested in wristwatches for as long as I can remember, and the dream to let my creativity result in my own brand has been on my mind for many years,’ Stray tells us of his brand’s beginnings. ‘In my role as the global head of design at Atlas Copco, I was the outermost responsible for the design of mechanical and digital precision tools for several leading corporations in the Swiss watch industry. After several years of work for companies such as Rolex and ETA and other microelectronic brands like Apple and Samsung, the temptation was too strong not to try to turn my own sketches and ideas into reality.’
Stray was keen to imbue the Swedish-designed, Swiss-made mechanical watch with a useful functionality, and focused on an interchangeable design that allows the wearer to change bezels with a simple twist, thanks to a patented locking mechanism.
‘I was always into style and the matching of fashion and I felt that there was a playfulness and interchangeability that I was missing in the current watches available in the market,’ he says. ‘The idea is to be able to give one watch many different personalities. With my background, it came naturally to me to design a mechanism that could reflect that. The watch gets a personality with the bezels and the interchangeability. With several years of work and evaluation of prototypes with the finest watchmakers in Switzerland, we had a mechanism that we felt was a true mechanical complication.’
The design of the classic watch itself makes a clean foil for the patented tech. Inspired by vintage Swedish measuring instruments and the meters of classic aircrafts and cars, it nods to Stray’s own history of working with high-precision tools for both human and robotic use.
He drew on his industrial design background when creating the watches, a field sharing horology’s focus on sustainability, good design and quality. ‘I’ve always held quite a conservative position as a designer,’ Stray adds. ‘Many of the products I’ve worked with have not been designed for fashion, with short product life cycles, but with the [lifetime] of the product lasting for 10 to 20 years. I’m working with the same horizon when it comes to the Strayer.’
He continues, ‘Quality and good design must go hand in hand, especially now, with sustainability questions that are more important than ever. In my previous role, my mission from the management was to lead the transformation from an industrial company to a premium brand with design, together with the design team – it was a fabulous journey I had the privilege to [undertake]. In my work with the Strayer, I’ve brought the value of premium thinking, [and] working in teams, together with the best possible resources available in my network.’
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Hannah Silver joined Wallpaper* in 2019 to work on watches and jewellery. Now, as well as her role as watches and jewellery editor, she writes widely across all areas including on art, architecture, fashion and design. As well as offbeat design trends and in-depth profiles, Hannah is interested in the quirks of what makes for a digital success story.
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