In watchmaking, dial typography is often neglected. Even the most high-end companies are prone to employing ‘off-the-rack’ typefaces for their numerals. With an in-house typographer as one of our founding members, this was never going to be the case for anOrdain. In fact, typography provided the starting point for our entire design process, influencing everything from hand design to the shape of the lugs.
When brainstorming visual directions for the Model 1 there were a couple of key points to convey. The highly skilled workmanship of the dial production needed to balance against the high-tech precision of watchmaking, all while communicating the beauty of the Scottish Highlands.
The rugged beauty of the Highlands seemed to articulate the vision of the watch - something that ultimately needed to be functional as well as beautiful.
Taking our name from Loch an Ordain in the Scottish Highlands, it also sparked the idea of ‘ordnance’ and prompted some thorough inspection of Ordnance Survey maps. The more the maps were studied, the more relevant they seemed.
Traditional cartography perfectly combines the opposing elements of the hand-crafted and the highly technical – two qualities we wanted to convey through our numerals.
When developing a typeface, it was important to retain some of the hand-drawn qualities from the Ordnance Survey maps. Much of the text in the maps was not much larger than that needed for a watch dial but managed to remain perfectly legible and full of character.
In the end, two typefaces were created – one for the hour markings and another for the minutes and seconds. Easily distinguishable, the two typefaces of the Model 1 complement each other as the lettering on the maps.
The hands drew inspiration from vintage compass needles, which felt in-keeping with the lettering.
The lugs included angular cuts to reference the harsh angular shapes of the letterforms.
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