What I’m Reading: Hopi Modernism, Baselworld Boîtes, and the Secret History of the Apple Watch

One of the best email newsletters I subscribe to is called What We’re Reading from The New York Times. Twice a week, the publication sends me an email that includes five reads from around the Web recommended by Times writers and editors. In that spirit, here’s my own abbreviated list of online jewelry and watch stories that caught my eye recently.

Charles Loloma – Hopi Modernist

Originally published in the Summer 2006 issue of Metalsmith Magazine, this wonderful article on the famous Hopi jeweler Charles Loloma, written by Ellen Berkovitch, offers a glimpse into the myriad inspirations that set Loloma’s work apart from anything that came before it—and virtually everything that’s come since. Known for his dramatic, architectural stone bracelets, his remarkable inlay work, his globe-trotting, and his commitment to reinterpreting Hopi iconography, the midcentury jeweler continues to inspire contemporary designers. At the JCK Tucson show in February, for example, I stumbled upon the work of Alden Jeffries at the US Gem Sale & Japara booth and learned that he’d designed a series of hard stone bracelets—like the $12,000 Scaling New Heights cuff below—as a tribute to Loloma.

The Scaling New Heights bracelet in silver and copper with hard stones by Alden Jeffries is a tribute to Hopi jeweler Charles Loloma. 

Baselworld, Where the Watch Is Still the Greatest Gadget

Writing for The New York Times’ Style section, Alex Williams captures a slice of Baselworld that is funny, insightful, and spot-on. The first thing he reveals—and hard-core watch collectors, unlike myself, probably know—is that Kiss drummer Eric Singer is a bona fide watch nut who knows his Fifty Fathoms from his Submariners. Next, Williams scored an invite not only to Breitling’s Bangkok-theme Baselworld party—set in “a hulking factory space on the banks of the Rhine that had been converted for this night into Patpong district as reimagined by Steve Wynn”—but to TAG Heuer’s shindig to celebrate its collaboration with Google and Intel at a forthcoming smartwatch. He ends his piece with a wonderful scene of “Jack Forster, the dandyish 52-year-old United States editor of Revolution,” holding forth on the meaning of mechanical watchmaking. The conclusion is not to be missed!

“A platoon of Teutonic drag queens as tall as N.B.A. power forwards” greeted guests going to Breitling’s Bangkok-theme Baselworld party, writes Alex Williams in The New York Times.

iPhone Killer: The Secret History of the Apple Watch

Wired’s David Pierce goes behind the scenes at 1 Infinite Loop and divulges numerous insights about the making of the Apple Watch. Focusing on the work of Alan Dye, chief of Apple’s human interface group, and Kevin Lynch, the company’s vice president of technology, Pierce provides a number of delicious details and comes to a few conclusions that, by now—less than two weeks out from the watch’s debut in stores—you should probably know.

  • Senior vice president of design Jony Ive began dreaming of an Apple Watch in the fall of 2011, following Steve Jobs’ death.
  • “Along the way, the Apple team landed upon the Watch’s raison d’être.” Pierce writes. “It came down to this: Your phone is ruining your life.”
  • In order to design the user interface and the Apple Watch’s new sensory-driven taptic engine, Apple’s developers had to answer questions like, “What does a tweet feel like?”
  • Dye learned a few things from the watch industry: “Personalization and beauty are everything, and the only way to get one company’s product onto different people’s wrists is to offer options—sizes, materials, bands—for a wide range of tastes and budgets.”
  • Apple’s luxury aspirations are not so far-fetched: “The luxury watch industry generates more than $20 billion a year in revenue, money that comes from the same kind of customer already drawn to Apple,” Pierce writes. “And Apple is targeting those people, likely spending more on creating its new Watch than has been spent to make even the most extravagant Patek Philippe.”