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Slow Watches: When only one hand sets the pace

Interview with Corvin Lask, Co-Founder and CEO of Blackboard GmbH

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European Business: Your watch has no minute or second hands and is content to tell the time imprecisely. What inspired this idea - and why do your customers choose to buy a watch with such limited functionality  

Corvin Lask: Is it a functional deficit when you wear a watch that reminds you that you hold the means by which you shape your life in your own hands and that asks you if you really want to let yourself be stressed out by the passing of seconds? I think that for a lot of people, myself included, a slow watch has a function that is missing in other watches. Think for a moment how often we succumb to (perceived) time pressures. A slow watch invites us to reflect: Is it really that important to fire off an email at ten o’clock at night even though it won’t be read before the next morning? Is it important to dash something off in a hurry just before you have to catch a bus at exactly 1.33 pm? Or would it be better to set off at a relaxed pace five minutes before you need to and avoid putting yourself under unnecessary pressure?

Corvin Lask
Is it a functional deficit when you wear a watch that reminds you that you hold the means by which you shape your life in your own hands? Corvin Lask

That is exactly why a slow watch only tells the time to within a couple of minutes. We believe that it doesn’t really matter whether it is 1.33 pm or 1.34 pm. It is far more important to develop a natural relationship with time and stop it being the focal point of our lives. We should live more in the here and now, enjoy the moment and forget about counting seconds.  

European Business: But in a world that deifies speed and efficiency, how can we live according to your “Be Slow” philosophy?  

Corvin Lask: Slow doesn’t mean that you can’t be efficient or pursue a career that requires speed. Whether you are slow or not depends primarily on your personal attitude. It is about doing things that are good for you and shaping your life in accordance with what you really want.  

This was the initial idea for Slow. We were just as trapped by the ticking by of seconds and spent more of our working day working for tomorrow than for today. We were trapped on a hamster wheel of our own making and were unhappy because it made us feel as if we were not in charge of our own lives and were neglecting the things that were really important. Our definition of luxury was going for a walk along the Alster without taking a phone with us!

That is why we wanted to create a product that would act as a prompt to make us take things more slowly and be less regimented in our approach to time management. What could be better suited than a wristwatch?

Slow watches

European Business: The watches are produced in Switzerland, probably the most famed country for watchmaking in the world. Do you see yourself as part of this Swiss tradition or are you opening an entirely new chapter?  

Corvin Lask: If you mean the part of the Swiss watchmaking industry that is incredibly expensive and aimed at people who want to flaunt their wealth, then we are certainly opening a new chapter and taking a different direction. Slow has nothing to do with prestige and status signalling. We are more of an anti-status symbol. Slow stands for the fact that it is not important to show off what you have. Slow is self-confident and stands for an attitude towards life. That is also why we don’t have a logo on the watch dial.

Slow has nothing to do with prestige and status signalling. We are more of an anti-status symbol. Corvin Lask
Corvin Lask

European Business: Your watches have already been included in goody bags handed out at the Oscars and are a popular accessory on fashion catwalks. To which industry sector do you think “Slow” is particularly suited?  

Corvin Lask: It is certainly more to do with the people than with the sector - and our customers are probably largely people like us, who feel like they are trapped by lives that are increasingly stressful and hectic, and who are struggling to cope with this situation. Our watch helps them to become aware of their own personal priorities - and how happy it can make them to forget time for a moment and stop living minute by minute.  

European Business: In which moments do you most like forgetting about the clock?  

Corvin Lask: Even I don’t always manage it, but I have made a good start. When I play with my young daughter or cuddle my newborn son, I forget everything else. In these moments I experience unbelievable joy and realize what is most important in life.

Interview: Julian Miller | Pictures: Blackboard GmbH