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The Kickstarter-backed Monograph watch puts a social spin on timeless design

Why it matters to you

There truly is a smartwatch for every occasion, and What? Watch's latest project is a stylish timekeeper with a poetic twist.

Many of us use social media to record the most interesting or exciting moments in our lives. But there’s something isolating about pulling yourself out of whatever’s going on to open Instagram or Snapchat to indiscriminately fire off a post. It’s distracting, isolating, and not terribly convenient or organic.

That’s what the Monograph Watch — a new device from wearable startup What? Watch — aims to fix. Simply looking at it, there’s nothing particularly shocking about the design. It’s stylish, modern, and certainly appears to be well made, but it’s also rather unassuming — save for the strange digital pattern radiating out from the center. That, plus the unmissable metallic red button adjacent to the crown, are really the only outward indicators that there’s something unique about this watch.

The Monograph Watch comes in two styles — the Classic on the left, and the Radar on the right.

Together, these strange features make the Monograph very special. When something remarkable happens in your life — something you want to share, or don’t want to forget — you press the button. A pattern will begin to form on the watch face, and your connected device will save the moment with the associated timestamp in What? Watch’s companion app. From there, you can add photos, videos, and text. Your friends and loved ones can contribute to the story, too, if you choose to share it with them.

With each piece of the story that is added, the design on your watch’s face will change, and the device will vibrate. If other people are tagged in the moment, their watches will display the very same pattern as yours. What? is pitching the Monograph as a vehicle for telling stories, and there is something poetic about marking potentially life-changing moments with the press of a button on your wristwatch, that sends ripples to those who matter most.

There is currently a Kickstarter campaign in progress for the Monograph, and it comes hot on the heels of the success of the company’s previous project — the Calendar Watch. Like the Calendar Watch, the Monograph is the brainchild of artist and creative director Masashi Kawamura, and is elegantly focused in its purpose. You won’t find any other features here you’d expect from a conventional smartwatch, and that’s by design.

The patterns are depicted with a monochrome e-paper display, which is set inside a stainless steel case and shielded by diamond-hardened mineral glass. Depending on the version you buy — the conventional Classic model or the more rugged Radar — you can opt for wrist straps made of either genuine European leather or durable silicone.

For the next three days, What? is offering the device at a discounted rate for early bird backers, and selling double packs for best friends and significant others. You can snag one for as much as half off of the expected retail cost. Prices are currently starting at $127 and $132 for the Radar and Classic, respectively, and shipment is slated for November if funding is completed.