Jony Ive reveals the origin of Apple Watch and why it’s cool to wear something on your wrist again

“Sir Jonathan Ive, Chief Design Officer of Apple, Inc., is sitting across from me at a seamless white oak table. We’ve met a few times before, and I know he cares about watches. He must, right? But I’ve never actually asked him. So I do. And thank God, he does – he recounts a tale of buying an Omega Speedmaster Professional in the early ’90s. I exhale, because the hypothesis of this interview, at least in my mind (likely not in Apple’s), is that the watch industry and its all-too-vocal supporters have got it all wrong,” Benjamin Clymer writes for Hodinkee. “Jony, the creator of what is, by at least one definition, the number one watch on Earth, is a friend, not a foe. But, like any great question of power and influence, it’s not so simple.”

Some snippets for the interview:

BC: Did you and Steve discuss watches, and did he have an interest in them?
JI: No, we didn’t talk about watches, or us making a watch. I don’t remember him wearing one either.

Steve Jobs in 1984 (Photo via Heritage Auctions/Norman Seeff)
Steve Jobs in 1984 (Photo via Heritage Auctions/Norman Seeff)
“Jony’s answer here was more curt than others, and it shook me. It was clear that mentioning Steve is not something often done by him, or by Apple. Further, I couldn’t believe that Steve Jobs, the man that I, and so many, look up to as an exemplar of taste and understanding, had no interest in the objects that we love so much. What’s more, and I didn’t share this with Jony, is that in February 2016, I spent the better part of a Saturday morning on the telephone with an auctioneer in Texas trying to buy Jobs’s Seiko – a simple quartz watch that he famously wore while sitting crossed-legged on the floor with a Macintosh in his lap for a Norman Seeff photograph,” Clymer writes. “I was ultimately unsuccessful, ending as the underbidder to a winning bid of $42,500. It is one of my biggest regrets in watch buying, and if given the chance to do it again, I would’ve moved mountains to bid even higher. Ever since, I’ve imagined it was Jony on the other end of the phone who placed the winning bid – at this point, though, I doubt it.”

BC: Steve really didn’t wear a watch?
JI: Correct.

BC: So then what exactly was the genesis of the watch project? In my mind, it felt like the last project with his fingerprints on it. But I guess that isn’t the case.
JI: The first discussion took place in early 2012, a few months after Steve’s passing. It caused us to take time, pausing to think about where we wanted to go, what trajectory we were on as a company, and what motivated us. Also, what concisely was our contribution to our users. And I think, incontrovertibly, that Apple since the 1970s has made difficult-to-comprehend and inaccessible technology easy to understand and accessible.

Read more in the full interview – recommendedhere.

MacDailyNews Take: Interestingly, Steve Jobs personally tried to recruit Kevin Lynch from Adobe to Apple. (Lynch was Adobe’s CTO at the time and had just butted heads with Apple CEO Steve Jobs over Adobe’s Flash and iOS.) Lynch, of course, was later hired by Apple in 2013 and became the head of the Apple Watch project.

Our favorite quote quote from Ive’s Hodinkee interview:

If we can help make some people realize that it’s cool to wear something on your wrist again, that’s a win for us and for every watch lover. — Jony Ive

Steve Jobs tried to recruit Kevin Lynch to Apple after Flash kerfuffle – December 29, 2015
iWatch? Apple’s Kevin Lynch heading former team of iPod engineers on new projects – April 12, 2013
Why the heck did Apple hire Adobe CTO Kevin Lynch? – March 20, 2013
Apple hires Adobe technology chief Kevin Lynch as vice president – March 20, 2013
iPhone Killer: The secret history of the Apple Watch – December 11, 2015
Adobe CTO tries defending the indefensible Flash pig – November 9, 2010
Adobe CTO likens Apple to 19th-century railroad – May 5, 2010


  1. I own an Omega Seamaster planet ocean as well as 4 Apple watches. My only regret is the Apple Watch face isn’t nearly as indestructible (or even scratch proof). I’ve smashed my watch faces too many times to count but thank god for AppleCare lol

  2. Those Omega Seamasters, especially considering the price, are the ugliest watches I’ve ever seen. I wouldn’t buy one if it could drive my car. How is an Apple fan attracted to such an aesthetic monstrosity? Shallow status symbol to some, foolish waste to others. My God, I’d rather wear a Swatch.

    1. Ahem, Sir! You have the taste of a guttersnipe! The Apple gadget is nothing but a chip. Though admittedly more useful than a true watch, it is just a peripheral to the iPhone, and quite frankly it looks like something that came out of a quarter claw machine at a cheap traveling fair.

  3. The man in the pictures is skeuomorphic and 3D. The real Jony Ive is a stick figure on a luminescent circle.

    If only Jony Ive would have a humility attack and hand off the design of the UI to someone else before he ruins his reputation as a designer. The symbols on the Apple Watch are so hard to see and it’s so hard to figure out what they stand for that we now have the alternative of a text-based interface. That, I think, is the direction we’re going.

    1. I mean the A-Watch is so iconic. Sorry I don’t know what I’m saying. I will say the the British “Sir” award is so…so…so… important. Maybe I’m just bitter because it’ll never be awarded to me as a Yank? Ah, no.
      I guess it’s just comes along with the king/queen thing?

    1. there’s nothing left, of any real importance, for you to do…that’s why. Becoming a “Sir” is quite an achievement in itself and one still has to live as a “Sir” and the responsibility would overwhelm most serfs…I mean, I mean citizen.
      Excuse me, “Lloyd, could please bring my yellow Austin to my quarters?.

    2. I was gonna say “Hey Sir Jony, it’s NOT cool you couldn’t design a Mac Pro high end pros want in 2013, nor update it in a timely manner (less than 6-7 years) until 2019-2020, along with other uncool Mac model misfires and neglect.” You “Sir” are uncool.

  4. Is Ive lying intentionally or by mistake that “I don’t remember him [Jobs] wearing one…?

    By the way, Sir Ive misused “him”. Proper wording is “his.”

  5. I am imagining that the posts to this article are like those who were passionate about the best typewriters of the day, and scoffed at the computer lamenting about the ‘true’ typewriters, and how ugly the computers were by comparison. They probably treasured how precisely the mechanics of the typewriters functioned and just couldn’t see that the computer would ever take the place of a ‘true’ typewriter.

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