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You don’t have to be a watch aficionado to know the Braun AW 10 is all about design. Originally released in 1989, the AW 10 speaks to a spartan Bauhaus aesthetic that, at the time, was bold in its simplicity. The design of the original AW 10 — which was a product of the pioneering duo Dietrich Lubs and Dieter Rams — sought to display the time in the most practical and legible way possible. The AW 10 EVO, released last year, is touted as a re-tooling of the original design by Lubs himself. But to stop there is to do the AW 10 and the EVO a serious disservice.
Time vs. Tool
Most watches are concerned with a specific use; dive watches are engineered to withstand the crushing pressure of deep water, chronographs, to capture exact readings of elapsed time on the race track or while navigating in a plane.
But the original AW 10 is about an experience. A flat mineral crystal yields to a simple matte dial with distinct painted hour markers and two simple white baton hands for hours and minutes. Atop sits a custard yellow second hand which happily ticks its way about the contrasting steel and black barrel case. The crown is small and recessed, entirely hidden when worn. Square, straight lugs jut from the top and bottom of the case, almost irreverently, abutting squarely with a slightly tapered black leather strap. All of this gels in a punctuated and straightforward statement: the time is now.
The AW 10 EVO and EVO B
The AW 10 EVO
Walk into any boutique on Madison Avenue and chances are you’d find a reimagined version of some vintage design. A quick glance at the EVO could have you thinking that it too is part of the trend, but in reality, it’s in conversation with the original design, not simply restating it.
The EVO is bigger — 39mm vs. the original 33mm — yet retains it’s pleasingly ascetic styling. The lugs still jut unapologetically from the barrel case but take a 45-degree dive wristward at their terminus as if acknowledging their important role in wearability. Their crown peeks out from beneath the bezel too, and while it disrupts the symmetry of the case, it reminds the onlooker that it too has a function: setting the date.
The AW 10 EVO’s 39mm case feels at home on the modern wrist
The biggest disruption in the original design is the date aperture at the three-o’clock position. Though simple in its own right, it’s adorned with a bright red caret, a not-so-subtle acknowledgment from Lubs that in today’s fast-paced life, knowing the date is in fact important.
Purists will always turn their noses up at re-imagined icons, but if we’ve learned anything from bourbon and Herman Miller, rethinking what makes a product great often leads to new insights about why we love them in the first place, and, every once in a while, gives rise to a fresh enthusiasm. That conversation between epochs of design is bracing. In this case, the AW 10 EVO has our collective eyebrows raised with a renewed appreciation for this simple, beautiful quartz watch.