NEW FEATURED ARTIST ~ KENNETH VAN VLIET

Watchmaker Collective is proud to introduce it's second featured artist.

Ken Van Vliet has garnered quite a reputation as a quality watch face builder in the Google plus community. He has demonstrated time and time again, how important every detail is and does not seem to accept anything short of excellence.  Every detail is carefully crafted piece by piece. No cut and paste virtually anywhere in his watches will be found. He mostly creates original designs with a bent for Divers & Pilot style watches. He's also very quick to help other budding watchmakers (yours truly) and goes out of his way to help without obligation. We think you'll agree he is a fine artist that just happens to make watches. 

Here's a little Q&A with Ken....

Q: Why do u wear a Smartwatch? Fashion, function or both? 

A: Strictly for function. While working I can be in some pretty tight spots, or up high on ladders throughout the day and it’s nice to be able to check notifications without needing to pull my phone out of my pocket to do so. I really don’t use the fitness tracking capabilities on any of them though. I just prefer time based complications and notifications for daily use.

 

Q: How long have u been actively making them? 

A: About 10 months now.

 

Q:What software are you using to make them , feel free to list all. 

A: I use Photoshop and Illustrator for creating all my graphics. Then for building the actual watch faces I create versions for the WatchMaker Premium app for Android Wear and Tizen watches, and I use the Samsung Gear Watch Designer program for creating Tizen Gear S2 and S3 native watch faces.

 

Q: What Watchface are you most proud of that you made? 

A: I honestly wouldn’t really say I am proud of any of the original designs, or even homage faces I have created. I can finish a design and totally love it, and then 10 minutes later I hate it. I am always looking at my faces and thinking, ”I need to update this” or “What was I thinking when I did that” lol. However, I guess my favorite face I have designed so far is the Orca Combo for the WatchMaker Premium app. I love Dive watches and lume and own a few mechanical Divers. The Orca Combo face is a culmination of everything I love with some extra functions tossed in for good measure. I designed it based on what I would love to see on a real life mechanical Dive watch.

 

Q: What is your favorite watch face by someone else? 

A: That’s a tough one. I only wear original designed faces usually, and there are some amazing designs for WatchMaker from Frank Defaux, David Reese, Ken Webster as well as many others. Even a few Gear developers have some nice original designs on the Galaxy Store. But I guess my favorite face… well faces since they are a series of faces would be the Matrix faces from Grondin Designs.

Q:  What is your favorite brand Smartwatch and why? 

A: Currently I’d have to go with the Samsung Gear S3. It has a great style and feel on wrist and the display is amazing. That could change in the coming weeks though as the new Androidwear 2.0 watches hit the shelves.

Q: What does the perfect Watchface have in it? 

A: I love a clean simple design with big easy to read markers just as much as I do a complex multi-function combo design. I really love unique original hands too. If the design is an original creation and has a good variety of dial color options, the date and a set of unique hands, chances are I’ll wear it. Some of my favorite faces I have loaded on watch now are very simple classic designs with color options. For it to be used more regularly in my rotation though, it would have to be a combo with a variety of dial color options and as many time-based complications as possible. Current Temp is a plus, but not necessary. The most important feature for me for any face to even be considered regardless of style or functionality is that it needs to have a lumed Ambient/AOD mode designed for it. Even better would be if there is a scripted ambient activation mode for if I simply want to turn it off during the day or have it always on at night. If none of the Smart Watches currently available had Hi/Full color ambient displays I wouldn’t bother wearing them and just stick with my mechanicals.

 

Q: What type of work do you do besides watchmaking and does your experience help in watchmaking?

A: By trade I am a Commercial and Residential Fire/Burglar Alarm Systems Technician. It really doesn’t help me with face building. I use face creation as my way to relax and destress from work. I enjoy just creating shapes and drawing in PS and try to find the time every night to work on something to unwind.

Q: What do you think the future of Smartwatches will be? 

A: I believe on the Android Wear side of things a lot of it will have to do with how well AW 2.0 is received by the masses. The current and recently released AW 2.0 watches have been disappointing to me so far though. There are a few I will check out later in the year from Diesel, and even the Huawei Watch 2 Classic, but I am not sure there will even be a new AW watch worth buying this year that will perform better, or have a more appealing design to me than my Gear S3. Hell… none of them have even made me want to replace my Huawei watch 1 yet.

I personally don’t see smartwatches being a replacement for cell phones. To me they will always just be accessories to them. Although there are more LTE smartwatches available now, with more coming down the pipe, they don’t have the battery capacity to run all features and settings enabled and last a full day. In the future as battery technology advances maybe they will, but personally I would never purchase one as a standalone device. I believe the smartwatch industry will be around for years to come and more and more manufactures are announcing their joining the fray, but the watches will never truly replace a cell phone or even mechanical watches for me.     

Hopefully we'll do more with Ken in the future. For now take a look at his new Artist Page on Watchmaker Collective: https://www.watchmakercollective.com/kenvanvliet/