An Interview with TAG Heuer and Zenith Designer Christoph Behling

For WatchTime’s Design Special 2018 – on sale now and available for download in the WatchTime Shop — we sat down with several different design professionals — including independent industrial designers, freelance watch designers, lead designers of large brands, and even a movement designer — to talk about how they see the role of design in watchmaking, where they get their ideas from, and what they think good design is. Here are the answers we got from Christoph Behling, product designer and founder of Christoph Behling Design, who has designed watches for TAG Heuer and Zenith.

“The designer has to balance past and future.”

WT: In your opinion, what is the role of a designer in the world of watchmaking?
CB: Understanding and capturing the amazing art of the last 100 years of watchmaking, while creating new designs which are relevant today and [will] last the next 100 years. The amazing quality of TAG Heuer or Zenith watches means that technically they will work perfectly well in 50 years; it is my job to make sure that design will last at least that long. The designer has to balance past and future.

WT: How did you get into watches and watch design?
CB: I first worked on TAG Heuer eyewear, and I was desperate to be allowed to design watches.

WT: What is good watch design, in your view? Any examples?
CB: My designs range from the instrumental tool watch to the scientific concept, from the timeless classic to the emotional. Good design means listening very quietly and tenderly to what this project “wants to be” — then to be bold and focused to translate that feeling, together with the engineers, into a great piece. Sometimes that means going into the the archive look at some old Heuer pieces quietly and at the same time go out to a London gallery to understand how to capture [a look for] the 21st century.

WT: Should form follow function or function follows form? Why?
CB: It is not a linear process; both influence each other. There is no general hierarchy between emotional and rational; it depends on the product. The TAG Heuer Golf watch was created after analyzing with Tiger Woods and his team exactly what a golf player needs and the form was purely based on function. The Diamond Fiction [on the other hand] was purely born out of an emotional wish I had to see how a diamond would look if it was used as a lens and not a “reflector” — [in other words,] pure emotion.

WT: What project are you most proud of?
CB: The Monaco V4, The Mikrogirder 10000th, the full TAG Heuer collection, which we have been designing for over 10 years, and last but not least, the Zenith EP21 and the amazing Zenith Defy Lab.

TAG Heuer Monaco V4 Tourbillon
The Monaco V4 is among Behling’s achievements for TAG Heuer.
No Responses to “An Interview with TAG Heuer and Zenith Designer Christoph Behling”

Show all responses
  1. I have never seen one single watch without a dial that looked attractive, good or inviting. Maybe it is just me. Yet I see many examples in the Tag Heuer and Zenith stables. Look at the vintage watches that achieve super high prices. None of them have skeletonised “dials”; although the dial in those watches is basically absent.

Leave a Reply