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MINI_Motion Watch Reviewed

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p>The Motion_Watch, from the MINI_Motion collection, has been one of the most anticipated pieces of MINI gear created yet. It was announced along with other MINI_Motion products back in the winter of 2003 but until this past week had yet to ship in numbers. Through the help of Fuseproject design studio and the primary designer of the MINI_Motion line. He is also one of the most sought after industrial designers in the world. Of course all this just seemed to create more anticipation for the watch and the entire line or MINI_Motion apparel and especially the watch.

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One of the main principles that the watch's design is centered on is the ability for clear and easy reading in every circumstance, even while motoring. The digital readout of the watch actually turns 90 degrees to give you a more straightforward view while your hands are on the wheels. Changing the watch's perspective does require a push of the top right button however… it's not automatic despite what the pictures may have you believe. Nevertheless it's a neat trick that actually can be useful. Beyond the horizontal display watch also has two other viewing options; a large readout where the hour is on top and the minutes are at the bottom, and a smaller readout that features both day and seconds. I prefer the latter for daily use.

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Another unique aspect is the design of the band. The color is more of a medium grey rather than charcoal or black that you might expect from the photos. The unique color and texture (or lack thereof) is due to it being created out of silicone. Inside the silicone is a steel core which is incredibly strong and not bendable. But the real interesting design aspect of the band is that it's only attached to one side of the watch's stainless steel body. The side of the band that is facing away from you is finished with a metal edge and a small lip of rubber for protection. This gives the body of the watch a floating look – unlike almost anything else out there. Unfortunately it also gives the watch reduced functionality when using the horizontal display view if worn on the right hand. But ultimately the steel core/silicone band and the watch manage to fit very well without a buckle of any sort. This is form and function working together towards an ultimate goal and it's quite impressive.

Despite the emphasis on design, the Motion_Watch watch has all the normal functionality you'd expect. Beyond two separate time settings there's also a stopwatch (with memory), timer, and alarm funcions.

The build quality, for the most part, is fantastic. There are some small imperfections in the silicone near the body that make it less than perfect but there's certainly nothing to complain about. The LCD screen is very clear and readable in direct sunlight but, as you would expect, useless in the dark. There is a blue/green backlight that stays on for three seconds if you hold the top right button. The lighting is adequate… but just.

Interestingly the watch is made in China while the manual is printed in Switzerland… go figure…

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As a longtime fan of vintage digital watches I'm happy to report that the MINI_Motion watch hits the modern, jetson-esque look perfectly. It's got a design that reminds one of the easy-going, inspirational future that's been promised since the 50's. Now, where are those flying cars…

The general form of the watch is quite successful. For those familiar with Philip Starck's line of digital watches made for Fossil, several of the design ideas will be vaguely familiar. That being said there's really nothing like this watch, when looking at the sum of it's design, on the market. The design language doesn't rely on anything specifically associated with the new MINI, but more the spirit of the car. At it's core it's a simple design that is executed extraordinarily well.

The fit will surely be something talked about by all who try on the watch. The band's design gives the watch a very light yet secure fit. That being said this is a watch that won't work for all wrist types. Simply put, it seems to be built as a man's watch meant for a man's wrist. While someone with smaller wrists could wear it the fit would be fairly loose and not quite confidence inspiring in daily wear. It fits me rather well but at 6'2″ my wrists aren't exactly what one would call small.

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Despite all it's design successes the watch does have a few things that keep it from getting a 5 out of 5. First the silicone band isn't the most comfortable thing when you happen to break into a slight sweat. The band repels all moisture so the surface gets moist rather quickly. While this isn't different than many other watches out there it does seem to show the moisture more readily. Finally, there's the issue of the backlight. While I would the current light completely adequate, I was hoping for something more interesting. White or even orange (matching the MINI's interior lighting) would have been preferred. Perhaps cost issues come into play when you're talking about different color backlighting but it certainly would have contributed to the look a bit.

The Motion_Watch, despite a few misses, succeeds as a brand extension and a great watch. It also succeeds as being a conversation piece and generally something reflective of the MINI spirit which so many of us love. In my mind it's one of the most impressive MINI accessories released yet.

Rating: 4.5/5

The Motion_Watch from the MINI_Motion collection retails for $165 and can be found at www.Outmotoring.com or www.minimotionusa.com.

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Written By: MF Staff

  • CJ

    I unfortunately/or fortunately dont have big wrists. So the watch does slide around a bit, however, i find this as a + since its never in one spot sweat is never a problem:)

    Im happy with it! Although i'd give it more a 4/5 since right hand watch wearers will have decreased functionality.

  • Deborah

    The watch definitely interests me, but the price seems steep for a digital watch. How big across is it? It's hard to judge. Could you post a picture of it on your wrist?

  • http://www.motoringfile.com/ Gabe

    Don't let the pictures fool you – it's not a large watch by any means. In fact I'm pretty certain it's smaller than both other MINI watches available.

    To me the price is completely worth it… but this isn't a watch for the masses. If you're not into old school digital watches you probably won't appreciate the design let alone the functionality.

  • Jason

    For some idea of scale, how about a picture of one on your wrist?

  • http://www.motoringfile.com/ Gabe

    Here's a photo that gives you a better idea of it's size: [photo]

  • dgszweda1

    Gabe,

    Why do you think the price is worth it? Some of the things that you complained about should really be included in a high priced digital watch. This is definitly not a cheap digital watch. Does it look like it will hold up for 5 to 10 years?

  • http://www.motoringfile.com/ Gabe

    Yeah it's very very well built – I wouldn't worry about it's longevity.

    And the things I complained about were really nit picking. It's really no less comfortable than a standard watch in terms of moisture it's just that the material shows the moisture more easily. And yeah the backlight doesn't like up a room but it's more than adequate and really what you would probably expect. I just expected a little more because everything else about this watch is so well designed and crafted.

    And any of the deficiencies of the watch may have are more than made up by the success of the design. That's why it's important to remember what I said above: if you're not an fan of vintage digital watches you probably won't appreciate the design let alone the functionality.

  • ajigel

    Any thoughts about it vs. the Philip Starck Fossil watch? I know the article mentioned it, but how does it stack up in size and fit? I have one of those, but these watches look great. Probably the only two digital watches I'd ever consider getting.

  • Chris M

    Technical nitpick:

    “The LED screen is very clear and readable in direct sunlight but, as you would expect, useless in the dark.”

    I suspect you mean “LCD” rather than “LED” here. An LED display, being self-illuminated, would be hard to read in direct sunlight but very readable in the dark.

    It would also be very retro–reminiscent of the Pulsar watch of the 1970s.

  • http://www.motoringfile.com/ Gabe

    You're right – typo on my part and it's now fixed. I also have a LED watch so I must have been a subconscious thing :)

  • http://www.dolch.net Matt Dolch

    $137 from Classic Mini…

  • http://www.dolch.net Matt Dolch

    Gabe- Do you notice on certain characters (like Thursday) that the “T” doesn't go all the way down? Seems to be an LCD mapping issue…

  • RB

    The 4 Design Criteria I live by:

    Good Design? Functionality? Ego Trip? Product Relativity?

    These are the questions I have been asked by my instructors & Design Directors, at school and agencies over the last 25+ years and and now what I ask myself before presenting to my clients in my own business.

    Mini_Motion watch based on the 1-5 design scale:

    Good Design …3 Functionality …2-3 Ego Trip …5 Product Relativity …-1

    Now if this is Ive Behar's Limited Edition watch then I'd give it a 5 in 3 categories and a 4 in the Good Design category.

    I'll stick with my Mini Speedo watch: Good Design …4 Functionality…-1 Ego Trip (mine) …5 Product Relativity …5

    I am just a humble Environmental Graphic Designer, mid level at that, and too each his own, but for me it fails on many levels.

    IMHO…RB

  • http://www.motoringfile.com/ Gabe

    Here's mine then:

    Good Design …5 / Functionality …4.5 / Ego Trip …(not sure what this means) / Product Relativity … (not sure what this addresses).

    Also not sure what you mean by “Now if this is Ive Behar's Limited Edition watch then I'd give it a 5 in 3 categories and a 4 in the Good Design category.” – Yves designed it so yes it is his watch. Sorry if that wasn't clear in the review.

  • http://www.motoringfile.com/ Gabe

    ajigel – It's been awhile since I've seen them but I'd say it's similar in size to the Starck watches but maybe a touch thicker.

    I will say that while I'm a fan of those watches – the Motion_Watch is a clear step above in quality of materials and manufacturing.

  • Frank

    I really dig this new MINI motion watch as I am a sucker for “old school” LCD and LED digital watches. I currently wear a 1983 Citizen ANA-DIGI TEMP digital/analog wrist watch in pristine condition. It was given to me as a birthday present when I was 13 years old and today 20 years later it still works to perfection and doesn't miss seconds (Gotta love those 1980's Japanese digital watches). It is a very cool and futuristic looking watch..it doesn't look old or out of place at all. Nice conversation piece.

    Thi snew MINI Motion watch reminds me of the very early mid 1970's Texas Instruments LED wrist watches with red numbers that would turn on at the touch of a button.

    I have been wanting a modern rendition of that classic LED digital watch and the MINI Motion version seems to be the best sample to date.

  • RB

    Gabe,

    I don't really think I need to explain to you what any of those thing mean as you are quite an accomplished designer but this is how I see them and how I was taught to think…

    EGO TRIP… My instructors used to ask us “are you promoting yourself or the client?”

    Most of us designers have to relate to the product as most of us ain't, Ive Behar, Phillippe Starck, Woody Pirtle, Charles Spencer Anderson or a Joe Duffy. That atmosphere isn't attained by many. I also believe most folks who ain't designers could G.A.S, they just either like it or not!

    PRODUCT RELATIVITY… seems self explanatory, but, how does the design relate to the product which, I assume, is this case is supposed to be, MINI.

    I thought the watch was called the MiniMotion watch not the Ive Behar Limited Edition MINIMotion Watch Thingy, but maybe I missed that somewhere on the packaging or watch, let me take another look, NOPE, his name ain't nowhere to be found.

    So since it ain't an IB product line where is the MINI relativity? If I'm buying IB products, that's one thing, if It's a MINI product let's have some relativity to MINI, ya think?

    Ethereal designs are a wonderful thing and maybe I'm just jealous that designers like Mr. Behar are able to sell their philosophy of minimalism to some, but I, for one, look at the product/design 1st not the designers name! And, IMHO he missed or should I say MINI allowed him to miss the point as to why I would buy this watch for, Product Relativity.

    If you like it that is all that counts, but, this was a design forum, wasn't it? So that was my 2 cents! As one of my instructors used to say ” if ya gonna put it on the easel expect comments!”

    …RB

    PS my comment about being mid level was a joke, I'm quite good!

  • http://www.motoringfile.com/ Gabe

    Okay those definitions are what I expected – just wanted to make sure.

    In the end I just can't agree with the conclusions above and I don't really understand the rational against having someone like Yves Behar design something like this for MINI.

    I'll let me comments stand :)

    And yes I believe there is a connection made between the design of the watch and the MINI – it's just that it's more philosphical rather than physical.

  • RB

    I just noticed that FUSEPROJECT is looking for a designer I think you would be a great addition to his staff. I'm not in that league.

    That was a compliment, in case it came off wrong…RB

  • http://www.motoringfile.com/ Gabe

    :) – saw that too. I think I'm pretty confortable in Chicago but thanks for the compliment!

    Not sure if I'd be the right person for the position but I'd love to be at a place like that (as any other designer would I'm sure).

  • Frank

    Can we talk about the watch and less about “Designer Phylosophy” mumbo-jumbo?

  • http://www.motoringfile.com/ Gabe

    Yeah so back to the watch…man it can really tell some sweet time…

    :)

  • http://www.matthewgifford.com/ Matt

    Frank, I think this is one of those objects that's supposed to be discussed on that level. That way people won't talk about really important things like whether it will fit on most people's wrists, which I don't think it will. As a piece of sculpture, I think this watch looks really cool. As a watch, I think this watch is poorly designed.

    Gabe and I go round and round about this stuff for days. Our debates about the new BMW 3 are legendary.

  • http://www.motoringfile.com/ Gabe

    Actually I would disagree with that second to last statement. On my wrist it fits very well. And as a watch I think it's impeccably designed.

    Simply put it's the most comfortable watch I've ever owned and I can tell time like there's no tomorrow! … wait… err… nevermind.

  • http://www.matthewgifford.com/ Matt

    That's my point, Gabe. On your wrist it works. On mine, it does not.

  • http://www.motoringfile.com/ Gabe

    true – but I'd say it will work on the average male wrist. I think ideally it would come in three sizes.

  • http://www.matthewgifford.com/ Matt

    I still think that using some sort of springy material would have made this a much better watch.

  • http://www.motoringfile.com/ Gabe

    I thought that at first too… after living with it for several days you come to realize why it's made the way it is.

  • RB

    Gabe…

    I'm not against Mr. Behar or any other great designer designing a toenail, I like ethereal or minimalist concepts, I was just stating that I disagreed with that particular product branding and philosophy and didn't find it terribly attractive.

    Not a fan of those watches that Frank talks about but to each his own.

    During the period he talks about I was hooked on Swatch plastic watches and early Fossil stuff, go figure! Had tons of them and I wish I could get some, like the Swatch Coca Cola watch and others, back,sold in yard sale.

    My favorite watch now, beside the MINI Speedo, is my M. Graves watch and an old Fossil fluid watch with gears floating in it, which vaguely looks like the MINI Speedo watch. …RB

  • http://www.matthewgifford.com/ Matt

    Gabe, I wish I could wear it so that I could realize that, too. ;-)

  • http://www.motoringfile.com/ Gabe

    RB – ah gotcha… well to each his own. Happy to agree to disagree on the branding thing – it can certainly be hit or miss.

    I actually love those watches Frank referenced and own a modern replica LED watch that is also push button operated. I also really like the MINI Speedo what you have… I might have bought it had I not been waiting for the Motion_Watch for 8 months!

  • RB

    FRANK…

    That “MUMBO JUMBO?” is what makes life fun for me sorry it bothers others. It is my life.

    I find your statement strange coming from a guy who writes paragraphs, at times, on subjects he knows about.

    …RB

  • http://www.motoringfile.com/ Gabe

    fellas – let's keep this one on topic….

  • RB

    I'm done…RB

  • Pat Crowley

    $165? HA! In person it may look better made and easier on the eyes, but on this screen I just can't see that much money. Is this a kind of object you're paying more just for a designer name? I've been sucked into that. My first pair of Guess Jeans were $70 a little over 15 years ago. Can't forget about the Oakley sunglasses. Oh yeah, and those Air Jordan Nike shoes. This was before I started to buy my own things.

  • http://www.motoringfile.com/ Gabe

    Again – if you're not an fan of vintage digital watches you probably won't appreciate the design let alone the functionality.

    If you are a fan of this type of watch I think once you get it in your hands you'll probably agree that it's well designed and built well enough to justify the price.

  • Danny

    I'll stick with my Rolex.

  • http://www.xanga.com/e46_323it Tony

    I just saw this watch in person for the firs time today. At the San Francisco MOMA. they had a whole exibit on Yves Behar(worth checking out) and thats how i came across this watch.. i would've bought it on the spot in the gift shop.. but the price tag was a lil hefty.. T-T it IS small in person. and it looks like they had a smaller yellow one for women/kids too ^^!

  • Isaac Perez

    Hello folks!

    I just got a Mini Motion Watch two days ago and I have to admit that in design matters all my expectations were fulfilled. You don't need to have this watch on your hands to realize that it is a really exciting and “eye catching” design. The detail of its band attached to only one side of the watch is definitely innovative and unique, and to me the most exciting and distinctive feature of its design. Nevertheless, I was disappointed with some features concerning how the watch works. I'm particularly addressing the Lighting and the alarm functions. First of all I consider the lighting features in a digital watch a primary function. Those who has had any digital watch with similar features can support my argument. I'm talking about the “press and hold” upper right button to get the watch face lights up when another button is doing nothing but beeping as the upper left one once you press it. Also the alarm function doesn't have neither an hourly signal (the feature that indicates every O'clock hour with a “beep”) nor an option to deactivate the beep every time you press the mode button (the lower right button). I think that these are common characteristics on any digital watch. I also have some problems on how the hour is displayed on the “hour-minute/day-date” mode, in terms of proportions, everything look to separate, and it doesn’t feel as an unit, but since I don't really use it, I don't care too much about it.

    Anyway I think that as an overall it’s an excellent design. I’ll give it 3.5/5.

    I’ll post more comments about its band, LCD screen, back and some other features soon.

    IP

  • abe

    I am wondering about the scratch resistance on the face of the watch.I owened the phillip stark and the face would scratch very easily.does this watch resist any better?

  • John

    I have just recieved my watch. I agree the backlight sucks. It is not very bright and I would have liked a different color. I have big wrists and though it is comfortable you do notice the sweat. The screen could be alittle easier to read though.

  • Mark

    I’ve had this watch for about 6 months, and I really like it. The design is unique, it fits well, and it performs watch functions adequately. The display is too dim, and the press-and-hold backlight is annoying, but I can live with that. It also runs a minute or two faster than normal timekeepers, but that’s ok too. The glass is pretty scratch-resistant, and I like the dual time zone function. What drew me to this watch is the design — there really is nothing else like it. It’s even sold by the NY Museum of Modern Art. Overall,I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

  • nan

    Can anyone send me a PDF of the manual!!! Mine got stolen and I don’t know how to operate the darn thing. Much appreciated!!!!

  • Beata Wonger

    I LOVE my mini motion, but have lost the instructions and cannot reset it – where do I find a manual…. Help!!! It is the most beautiful thing I can think of and it is killing me not to be able to use it (now 2 years old)!! Please, please and thank you, thank you!!!! Beata Please email if you can Bamboofabrics@yahoo.com as I found this site by accident and being a computer idiot, might not find it again, though I love all the discussion!!

  • Joe Grover

    Did you ever get a pdf copy of the instructions?

    I lost mine and have been unable to find another copy.

    Some things that might be helpful.

    1. When the battery starts to weaken you cannot switch between time zones, reset the watch, etc. since pressing any button resets the watch to midnight and its default date. Once you replace the battery you can reset the watch.
    2. To reset the watch. a. Press and hold the top left button. The display will flash, prompting you to choose between “12 hr” and “24 hr.” Make your selection by toggling using the lower left button. b. Press the lower right button to advance to other selections (hour, minute, month, day, year, etc.) and advance the selections by pressing the lower left button repeatedly or by holding it down to advance rapidly. Pressing the lower right button after advancing the hour, minute, day, year, month will store the selection and advance to the next item to be selected. c. Press the upper left button to store all the setting and return to timekeeping. d. Press and hold the lower left button to switch between time zones. When the second time zone is displayed you can reset it using steps a, b and c above.
    3. My watch always displays the day of the week and seconds in the lower part of the window. The watch can display the month and day, but I haven’t figured out how to toggle between these two alternatives. Do you know how to do this?

    Joe

  • macboyx

    When you are setting the watch it’s an option. My battery is dead right now so I’m not sure exactly where it appears but there is a seeting that says D-S or M-D.

    I hope that helps.

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  • gerald rosengarten

    I purchased at Moma the motion watch when it came time for me to change to daylight savings time, the watch was not able to accomplish this change. I followed all directions and have changed the time when I first bought it. There seems to be something wrong with a chip or connection inside the watch. I love the watch and need help to keep it. Jerry

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