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Early 'Pod' Watch, 1986
aluminum, rubber
Movement by Doxa, Switzerland
2 3⁄8 in. (60 mm) case diameter
movements marked DOXA S.A. CAL. 36 SWISS MADE 1246
Private Collection, Sydney, acquired directly from the artist
Acquired from the above by the present owner, circa 1991
Conway Lloyd Morgan, Marc Newson, New York, 2001
Marc Newson, The London Design Medal, London, 2008, p. 45
Marc Newson, Works, Taschen, 2012, p. 324  (for sketches of the model)
Post lot text
Final image: Marc Newson wearing the Large Pod Watch in a photoshoot for the Mooks clothing brand in the mid 1990s. Photography by Karin Catt. Courtesy of Marc Newson Limited 2021.

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Lot Essay

Marc Newson’s fascination for watches started early: at the age of thirteen, he dismantled a wristwatch belonging to his uncle and reformatted it, in a new plastic case. The ‘Large Pod Watch’ presented here is amongst the first products Newson created after finishing his studies at the Sydney College of the Arts, at age 23, and a stunning example of Newson’s modernity and creative genius. The first object created under his ‘Pod brand, the name for the watch and furniture making company he planned to establish, the ‘Large Pod Watch’ marks a break with the high-tech constructivism which had dominated the 1980s until then, and inaugurates an aesthetic of visual weightlessness and metallic futurism, which asserted Newson’s prominence at the vanguard of contemporary design. Conceived with the vision that would be sheathed entirely in a seamless surface of metal, the Pod Watch is the precursor of Newson’s future iconic creations such as the ‘Pod of Drawers and the ‘Orgone.

Captivated by the contradiction between small size, complicity of the design and intricacy of the technical execution of watches, Newson conceived watches as “a tiny universe inside of a case whose workings depended on mechanical perfection. Watches are objects with a very specific function, yet they are also decorative and are the only kind of jewelry that most men are likely to wear.” The watch was assembled by hand (“a nightmare”) and with the assistance of Newson’s friend, Eckard Reissign, who was trained in watch making.

Designed to be worn on top of clothing, the watch presents with a spectacular 60mm diameter aluminum case with beveled edges and convex glass windows forming the dial. Rather than using the conventional hands to indicate time, the watch features rotating discs, with orbiting dots for the hour and minute, as well as dots at the 12, 3, 6 and 9 o’clock positions. The watch strap, made of neoprene rubber, closes with two hand-machine metal elements that fits into holes, the same system as some of his later ‘Ikepod watches. The mechanism is a self-winding movement, made by Doxa, Switzerland, giving it the amount of force needed to rotate the discs, much heavier than the traditional hands. The thin discs were attached to the face plate with shellac, a very delicate task for such a small scale object. Both an extraordinary design and an outstanding technical achievement, the ‘Pod Watch’ also questions the concept of time, which Newson later explored with his Mystery Clock,’ designed in 1989 and using magnetic forces to propel dots that seem to magically orbit the face of the clock.

The present lot is number 4 from six examples designed and made by Marc Newson. Number 5 is in the collection of the Sydney Museum of Arts and Science, Powerhouse Collection (Object no. 88⁄605).

In a private collection since 1991, this watch was acquired from a close friend of Marc Newson, and alongside other iconic works by the artist, including the ‘Pod of Drawers’ sold at Christie’s New York, May 2007, lot 3 for $1,048,000.

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