Obaku, designed to stand the test of time

February 2017

The Danish watchmaker excels at producing minimalist timepieces with clean lines, the product of Asian Zen philosophy fused with Danish design concepts.

Obaku, designed to stand the test of time

Developing a solid DNA base for every brand is important. It establishes a certain identity and narrative and provides a red thread running through different product lines.

For Danish watchmaker Obaku, that DNA begins all the way back in 1661. No, that’s not when the company was founded, but rather when the Obaku branch of the Zen philosophy was established at the foot of Mount Obaku in Japan.

The philosophy entails basic values that pay tribute to simplicity and calmness. The objective, then, is to see things as they are, as essential things without any distortion.

Obaku, designed to stand the test of time

What might that look like in practice? Well, as one example, you might notice that some Obaku watches have a hidden crown, keeping the case perfectly circular and thus staying true to the Zen philosophy of completeness without distortion.

Such values have been interpreted and brought to the world of watches by Christian Mikkelsen and Lau Liengård Ruge. Of course, being Danish themselves also helps the duo with executing that philosophy, since the Danes are well known for their simplistic yet functional designs going back to the days of the Vikings.

Obaku, designed to stand the test of time

The duo were trained as industrial designers, and that also shows in their timepieces. Their designs are appreciated for the use of simple lines, excellent materials and a high quality of production. When combined, that mean that Obaku timepieces should be able to stand the test of time.

As a result, you won’t see big watches with various complications and bold colours – but only the rare accenting splash here or there. That’s because colours and shapes might be great for today, but tomorrow another trend will surpass them.

Obaku, designed to stand the test of time

Thus, Obaku aims to produce evergreen watches, which won’t go out of fashion. Lau wraps it up for us nicely:

“For me, the important thing is to produce a design that stands the test of time. I’m no fan of quick-fire, flavor-of-the month solutions… The objective with my designs is to create products that people consider worth keeping.”

Fusing Zen philosophy and Danish design elements, the brand has found success. But whether or not their watches will really stand the test of time is still up in the air. At least it’s a compelling narrative to own one of their watches, here and now.