Momentum is a metaphorically rich intervention that measures time differently

Designed as a wearable kinetic sculpture, 'Momentum' attempts to break free from conventional time-telling by repurposing its perception and purpose.

by Anmol AhujaPublished on : May 17, 2022

Time. A physical entity, and by that very definition, measurable in rather absolute terms and outcomes, even if in intervals or with reference to another point in time. Ironically though, it is also the one physical entity - an entire dimension perhaps - that has been visualised to be manipulated the most in one way or another. Arguably, the foundation of modern science-fiction itself may rest upon concepts related to time, including time travel tropes and parallel timelines. Throughout history, this increasingly complex yet seemingly direct entity that traverses a linear path but is measured on an axial plane, has been indigenously looked at differently between different cultures, until the invention of the modern watch, much in keeping with our diurnal cycles, simplifying the day into two recurring cycles of 12 hours - 720 minutes - 43,200 seconds each. For the team at US-based All Design Lab, this rather rigid way of measuring time seemed a hindrance to the operation of the creative mind and soul. In collaboration with footwear and fashion designer Miguel Peña, the team of designers sought to completely eliminate the numeric and arithmetic component, translating time and its passage to something abstract, emotional, and proportional to the user’s productivity and feelings.

  • Momentum’s visualisation is primarily focused on its beige variant to help tie the product’s story into the product visuals | Momentum | All Design Lab and Miguel Peña | STIRworld
    Momentum’s visualisation is primarily focused on its beige variant to help tie the product’s story into the product visuals Image: Courtesy of All Design Lab
  • The watch is also visualised in an all black shade | Momentum | All Design Lab and Miguel Peña | STIRworld
    The watch is also visualised in an all black shade Image: Courtesy of All Design Lab
  • A two-tone shade for the watch takes inspiration from deep-sea creatures and corals | Momentum | All Design Lab and Miguel Peña | STIRworld
    A two-tone shade for the watch takes inspiration from deep-sea creatures and corals Image: Courtesy of All Design Lab

"While debating how to repurpose this idea of time, we looked at a wide range of timepieces, from classics to the modern-day Apple Watch. We found that time is always told in its restrictive parameters. What if we imagined time centred not around hours but rather moments and habits throughout the day?”, enquired the team at All Design Lab, along with Peña, their primary collaborator on the design. It is this proverbial question that lead the designers of this timepiece to embark on completely reimagining the aesthetic and functioning of a watch to create Momentum. Unlike a traditional watch, Momentum, stylised as MMNTM, doesn’t operate on a traditional hour-based system, but instead adjudges the passage of time based on how the user spends their day. The watchface is composed of 45 individual fins, designed to rotate together, as well as go up and down, to signify to the user how their day is progressing. Based on positive and negative emotions or behavioural habits, Momentum spins faster or slower, telling the user differently whether their time is being utilised or wasted.

  • The watch’s diaphanous dial provides a peek into the rotating fins | Momentum | All Design Lab and Miguel Peña | STIRworld
    The watch’s diaphanous dial provides a peek into the rotating fins Image: Courtesy of All Design Lab
  • The speed of the fins’ rotation is meant to signify the user’s actions and how their time is affected by them | Momentum | All Design Lab and Miguel Peña | STIRworld
    The speed of the fins’ rotation is meant to signify the user’s actions and how their time is affected by them Image: Courtesy of All Design Lab
  • Generally productive and mindful activities yield a rhythmic spinning of the fins, signifying optimum usage of time | Momentum | All Design Lab and Miguel Peña | STIRworld
    Generally productive and mindful activities yield a rhythmic spinning of the fins, signifying optimum usage of time Image: Courtesy of All Design Lab

In a very metaphorical sense, the intervention tends to how we perceive the passage of time, without proposing an alternative way of measuring it. We feel time moves 'faster' or 'slower' depending on our levels of activity or moods through the day. All this, while the irrefutable fact remains that the rate of time passing remains the same for everyone, even if the number on the dial may vary across the world owing to latitudinal differences. In that, Momentum may thus be seen as a way of enhancing that perception itself - a completely personal intervention that operates differently for each user based on inadvertent, involuntary inputs they provide to the device. While that may take away from a certain notion of community, and even democracy associated with time, the device on your wrist would tell you to make your own.

  • The watch’s case is designed to magnetically attachable and detachable to the strap | Momentum | All Design Lab and Miguel Peña | STIRworld
    The watch’s case is designed to magnetically attachable and detachable to the strap Image: Courtesy of All Design Lab
  • Inspired by Kanye West and Kano’s STEMPLAYER, Momentum bears softness in form and malleability | Momentum | All Design Lab and Miguel Peña | STIRworld
    Inspired by Kanye West and Kano’s STEMPLAYER, Momentum bears softness in form and malleability Image: Courtesy of All Design Lab

Following the watch's design and conception that involved operating on a very abstract, largely thoughtful plane, the designers sought varied inspiration and relied on expansive research - from classic timepieces to smart wearables and smartwatches - to give form to their product design. The designers decided on a visual complexity to reflect and complement the abstraction of their idea, basing their design around a patterned texture, yet underrun by a functional simplicity. Their principal tangible inspiration lay in Kanye West and Kano’s STEMPLAYER in an aesthetic and functional sense. Much like the pocket-sized music player’s ability to repurpose and customise music by splitting into stems, along with its nifty form, Momentum too features an increasingly malleable design boasting softness in form. Both the strap and the case of the watch, with the latter housing the entire fin assembly, are designed to be modular in a way, detachable from each other to encourage individual use. The case can be magnetically attached to the unibody textured silicone strap, allowing the user to 'wear' time as they would like - on the wrist, in their pocket, or attached to their clothing. With its minimal yet striking design, the intent of the product is to attract subtle attraction, even while the product is increasingly oriented to a certain individualism and personalisation.

  • The idea behind the watch’s case being a separate component was to influence the user to ‘wear’ time as they would like | Momentum | All Design Lab and Miguel Peña | STIRworld
    The idea behind the watch’s case being a separate component was to influence the user to ‘wear’ time as they would like Image: Courtesy of All Design Lab
  • Animation showcasing the watch’s case and straps magnetically clicking together to connect | Momentum | All Design Lab and Miguel Peña | STIRworld
    Animation showcasing the watch’s case and straps magnetically clicking together to connect Image: Courtesy of All Design Lab
  • Each of the individual fins in the 45-fin assembly can rotate in unison with the others, as well as lift and fall according to a non-tangible input | Momentum | All Design Lab and Miguel Peña | STIRworld
    Each of the individual fins in the 45-fin assembly can rotate in unison with the others, as well as lift and fall according to a non-tangible input Image: Courtesy of All Design Lab
  • The fins spinning faster would imply negative usage and wastage of time, accompanied by the perception of time going by faster | Momentum | All Design Lab and Miguel Peña | STIRworld
    The fins spinning faster would imply negative usage and wastage of time, accompanied by the perception of time going by faster Image: Courtesy of All Design Lab

Momentum thus aligns its operational agenda eponymously, the rotating fans directly reflecting the 'momentum' and pace of the user’s actions throughout the day. For actions and habits generally perceived as positive, à la exercising, having lunch, meditating, or anything similarly mindful, the watch would maintain a healthy rotational speed, indicating a somewhat beneficial rhythm to the day. Conversely, it would speed up if the user ends up spending their time callously, including endless scrolling through social media apps, sitting for too long, working till late, etc. The increased momentum of the watch’s 'dial' would in turn signify faster passage of time, indirectly translating to wastage.

The watch is visualised in an array of colours to pique interest and subtly attract attention | Momentum | All Design Lab and Miguel Peña | STIRworld
The watch is visualised in an array of colours to pique interest and subtly attract attention Image: Courtesy of All Design Lab

“The concept we built focuses on telling a deeper design story. Momentum concentrates on creating a ‘positive’ object that will generate new thoughts and discussions in the community,” states the design team at All Design Lab, on their aspirations with the product. Furthermore, on the future of the current conceptual design, the team states that designs and visualisations are "solely for media and would generally not work as mass-manufactured objects. Keeping this in mind, we kept the internal discussions away from mechanical possibilities and focused on visual presentation," explaining how their process was more anchored on the experimental thought of the project, more than the plausibility and pragmatism of its functioning. This also manifests in the diaphanous, membrane-like face of the watch, only providing a peek into the functioning of the presumably rotor assembly, visualised in beige, all-black, and two-tone deep sea coral shades.

  • Conceptual sketches for form development for Momentum | Momentum | All Design Lab and Miguel Peña | STIRworld
    Conceptual sketches for form development for Momentum Image: Courtesy of All Design Lab
  • Conceptual sketches for Momentum’s operation and ergonomics | Momentum | All Design Lab and Miguel Peña | STIRworld
    Conceptual sketches for Momentum’s operation and ergonomics Image: Courtesy of All Design Lab
  • The designers picked from a range of influences for the final design of the watch, including the Apple Watch | Momentum | All Design Lab and Miguel Peña | STIRworld
    The designers picked from a range of influences for the final design of the watch, including the Apple Watch Image: Courtesy of All Design Lab

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