To win a Red Dot design award, a product needs more than just a good look. The Red Dot award is about form, but more importantly – function. Ventura isn’t a stranger to either of them. In 2012, the Ventura SPARC wrist watch received a Red Dot award. The European awards outfit skews towards modern devices, and the SPARC is a poster child of the stuff they like to recognize.
Today I believe that all Ventura timepieces are electronic. That wasn’t always the case but the brand’s founder, Pierre Nobs, has always been interested in the intersection of good design and technology. It goes without saying that not all digital watches are particularly attractive, or interesting. The Ventura brand was all about changing the notion behind that.
For a few years Ventura as a brand disappeared. It was believed that due to the poor economy, the innovative watch maker would be lost forever. Surprisingly, they were resurrected a couple of years ago to live again with a consolidated mission. The brand would no longer produce mechanical watches, but only its interesting quartz-based timepieces that used special interfaces and display systems. Ventura certainly uses some of the best quality LCD screens around that look sharp and very crisp. Plus, their “EasySkroll input system uses a scroll wheel to make accessing and adjusting the watch rather simple. It sure beats having to press tiny buttons on the side of a watch case.
The newest SPARC watch is the SPARC Sigma MGS. It will initially be offered in a black or satin finished steel case on a bracelet or high-grade rubber strap. Ventura uses “Durinox” which is apparently a form of hardened steel for the case. This newest generation SPARC Sigma watch is probably the most beautiful, benefiting from a lovely pebble-like curve that has the watch wrap around the wrist looking like a fat boomerang. No doubt it has a strange appearance at first, but the logic behind its sideways wrist stance makes sense when trying to read the time without having to turn your wrist.
Nothing about the Ventura SPARC Sigma MGS from a functionality perspective is unique to this watch. The quartz movement does not require battery changes, as a rotor in the watch moves with the motion of your wrist to charge the internal battery. Seiko for example has been doing this for years, but it just feels more slick on the Ventura, especially as you can see the rotor through the top of the watch. The movement offers a couple of timezones, a chronograph, calendar, alarms, and a countdown timer. Along with a backlight of course. Again, nothing new, but the mix of features combined with the high-quality construction and design are unrivaled by competitors.
The world of high-end quartz watches is boutique to say the least. Most people investing at least a few thousand dollars in a watch are looking for a purely mechanical movement. Only the most confident of design lovers and watch enthusiasts understand the value of a luxury digital watch. Biases be damned, Ventura does make an interesting timepiece. Though exclusivity is almost built-in given the price of the SPARC Sigma MGS, which debuting in 2013, will experience an initial run of just 50 pieces with a price starting at $5,150