For our maiden voyage into a series of Member profiles, we sat down with member and horological visionary Jason Sarkoyan, AKA @thewatchdesigner. The watch designer and aficionado (and financial analyst, to boot) tells us about his background in the art of timekeeping and the things that inspire him.
Eleven James: How did you become interested in watches at such a young age?
Jason Sarkoyan: Throughout my life I have always been surrounded by 3 things; Architecture, Art, and high end Jewelry. My father is a very successful leading mechanical/architectural engineer, my mother is a professional artist/painter, and my relatives are jewelers all over the world. So in essence, it was sort of natural that I would end up falling into those trades. I started off designing skyscrapers at a very early age through the influence of my father and my affection for architecture. Through the influence of some of my family, I got into the world of mechanical watchmaking at age 10. As time went by I learned how to perfect my craft by spending hours studying the art of watchmaking and design. I started sketching my own concepts that I aspired to see from high-end watch manufacturers one day. From that point on I felt like I was unstoppable with my creative ideas.
EJ: What was the first watch in your collection?
JS: My parents gave me 2 of my first watches at age 7. One was a digital Casio and the other was a digital Suunto divers watch. I kept those two watches very close to me for a while until I lost them while we were traveling when I was around 12 years old. That’s when I started designing my own pieces. My first luxury watch was a Montblanc Meisterstruck alarm pocket watch that I received from my parents when I was 16 years old.
EJ: How/Where do you find inspiration for your watch designs?
JS: I find inspiration from the many things that pop up in my mind throughout the day and based on things I see, especially when I meet people who are as passionate as I am in their own line of work. I find most of my inspiration from architectural landmarks throughout my travels and art galleries I visit around the world.
EJ: If you could design a watch for anyone, who would it be and why?
JS: Ever since I started getting into watches, the people that I have looked up to the most are Gerald Genta, Christophe Claret, Francois Paul Journe, and Giulio Papi. My dream is to design for all of them, but between all those legends, without a doubt, my first choice would be to design a watch that goes into full production for F.P. Journe.
His passion for high end watchmaking is like no one else in the industry. His precise vision for mechanical design and functionality is beyond this world. Francois Paul never cuts corners, and if he says he is going to do something he always does it without any excuses and I respect that about his personality. Most importantly, what makes Francois Paul Journe so unique is how he never makes unnecessary aesthetic and mechanical designs. He makes sure that every gear inside each watch that he produces has a real purpose beyond the looks aesthetically. His attention to detail and perfection is on point all the time. That’s truly what I appreciate about his work and what drives me to design for his manufacturer one day.
EJ: What features/qualities do you think are most important in a watch?
JS: I firmly believe when you are designing a complete watch, everything has to sync with one another from the case, to the dial, and the movement. I see so many brands that understand how to make movements, but lack the understanding on how to design a watch aesthetically, or vice versa. The key to making a beautiful watch is knowing what the people want and what the industry needs to continue to grow. The watch industry needs to change its mindset and become more open minded to what’s next instead of focusing on the past and following existing designs over and over again.
EJ: What’s your favorite aspect of being an Eleven James Member?
JS: My absolute favorite part about being an Eleven James member is that I can enjoy a variety of different brands that I am considering buying timepieces from in the near future beyond what is already in my personal collection. Nowadays it’s hard to walk into a watch store and have the ability to know exactly what you want after trying on a few pieces, especially when those watch salesmen put you under pressure to buy something that you are not fully convinced of just to make a sale. Eleven James is so unique because you get to enjoy a watch on a much more personal level by wearing it for a few months in your everyday environment and seeing if you are truly in love with the piece to make a final purchase. I think Eleven James brings value to both enthusiasts and beginners. Eleven James never fails to amaze me with their concierge service and their nonstop efforts to be the best at what they do.
EJ: What design projects are you currently working on?
JS: I am currently developing my own piéce unique collection with my close friend and business partner Aldis Hodge. Aldis and I understand each other, our vision, and we have come together to develop piéce unique watches that exceed the standards of watchmaking.