Known simply as TheWatchDesigner on Instagram, Jason Sarkoyan’s Instagram handle could just as easily have been YoungestWatchDesigner. Jason’s fascination with watches began at age 8. By 13, he was sketching watch designs and by 17 working on actual design projects for watch brands. Now just shy of 25, he’s an accomplished Watch Designer with a none too shabby client list.
Jason is also the Creative behind the new custom brand font and dial design of the Inception V1.1 and is working on the upcoming V2.0 and V3.0 models launching this year.
Lytt Labs dives into the mind of Jason Sarkoyan to suss out what makes him tick.
You got your start in the watch industry at a really young age. Tell us about yourself, and your journey into the world of horology.
As a child, I was a very curious kid (laughs). I became passionate about many things like music, architecture, submarines and spaceships at a very young age. My parents are very artistic and design-driven individuals. My mother is a designer and my father is a mechanical engineer. I used to witness my father design and build beautiful buildings growing up, so I naturally fell in love designing things and I loved anything that was mechanical.
During my youth, I spent a lot of time sketching buildings, spaceships, or what was around my environment when I was at school, at the skatepark or making music with my friends. I just really enjoyed sketching but most importantly being creative. I was also playing the drums and made beats on my MPC with my friends growing up, so still to this day, I produce beats as a hobby to clear my mind.
Prior to actually making it a career as a watch designer for watch brands, I was collecting watches as a child and young adult. My love for watches began at the age of 8 when I discovered Marty Mcfly in Back To The Future wearing a Casio CA53W.
The day I fell in love with mechanical watches was when my cousin who is a watchmaker showed me a mechanical watch at the age of 12 or so. That’s what ultimately got me deep into horology (watches/micromechanics).
During the end of my middle school years entering into high school, I was determined and on a mission to be a full-time industrial designer but more specifically a watch designer (laughs). While others were goofing around during high school like most teenagers do I was working on my computer design skills in photoshop and illustrator, so that when I graduated high school I had some design strengths to start pursuing watch companies with my designs. I invested in myself at a very young age because of the influence of my parents and their business mindset.
Fast forward to today, I’ve had the pleasure of designing watches for some cool brands, gone through may trials and tribulations, and I have had the pleasure of having some amazing mentors like Ariel Adams and Gerald Genta and several more people who educated me with many priceless skills and supported my creative journey.
Spill the tea on what a typical 24 hour day is really like for you?
Every day is different of course, but most days I start my day off by getting ready and in the process, I watch CNBC for daily stock market info because I have investments in the marketplace. I also try to watch hilarious Instagram memes that are watch industry and non-watch industry related (laughs). Nothing beats starting the day with a few good laughs. I then proceed to some morning meetings if I have any and I eventually make my way to my office to work on designs from various brands I’m designing for at the moment. Minus the watch projects I’m working on currently, I try to design at least 2-5 watches per day. As an industrial designer first I enjoy designing other things and have involvement in other design projects not related to watches beyond the world of Horology.
After I finish my day at the office I head back to my house and continue to work on more designs because I am a workaholic or hit up the recording studio with close producer/artist friends. Making music is my getaway from the watch business so that when I come back to the drawing board I have a clearer mind to execute my vision. I love keeping creative energy flowing around me, it’s a sensation that helps fuel my creativity. I have a huge imagination so I am naturally an all-around creative individual, so I try to remain in a specific zone. I try to stay in a 2pac/Elon Musk/Jeff Bezos state of mind at all times (laughs).
What’s your favourite time of the day and why?
I would have to say when the sun sets or rises. There is something beautiful about the transition from day to night or from night to day.
How have your watch designs evolved through the years and what’s your design philosophy?
I have several design philosophies, but the most important one to me is aiming to achieve creative originality no matter what you design. I always encourage future designers to create their own design language because there are so many people creating a better version of what already exists (sigh).
There is nothing necessarily wrong with re-designing or innovating something that already exists because we all do it from time to time for fun, but there is something special about an original idea. Unfortunately, many times I meet designers who constantly copy other designers or make improvements to products that already exist. I firmly believe there is beauty in creating something that has never been seen by a naked eye until you have developed it. From my experience and humble opinion, over saturation of any product, design, or style is what kills any market in any business for everyone involved in it. In my opinion, it’s a selfish act when I see people who call themselves designers but everything they designed is a re-design or an improvement of an existing product. I wonder where originality has gone (laughs).
My designs have evolved over the years into different genres of design and more mechanically complex ideas through consistently practising and learning from different mentors. I spend at least 10+ hours a day working on watch designs no matter what. Even when I’m in a meeting or on a business call I’m working on designs. I live, eat, and breathe what I do.
Do you have a favourite watch that you designed? What’s its significance?
I would have to say, a favourite watch I designed was for my brand Genusis Design. I know it sounds cliche but it’s pretty much the first watch I designed with no creative boundaries. No one was above my shoulders being critical and telling me what to design. Unfortunately, a majority of the watch brands in the industry are afraid or lazy and don’t want to develop new cases, dials, and create new ideas (sigh).
Most of the time as a freelance designer, I’m directed to make adjustments to existing models. Don’t get me wrong it’s rewarding being able to make changes to iconic watches that have stood the test of time but it’s frustrating when brands lack the understanding that they need to consistently create to remain relevant. So it is great to come across brands like Lytt Labs that allow designers like myself to have more creative freedom than usual.
You are about to turn 25, yet seem completely grounded while living this extraordinary life.
What do you attribute this to?
Business savvy and wise parents, wise mentors, and wise friends are what I attribute it to. It’s so important to keep wise and successful people around you that have passion and ambition. To say the least, I grew up in a unique environment with parents that taught me basic business skills, discipline, how to network, and that the relationships I build are my biggest asset. In this life, success in most cases has never been about what you know even if you know it, it’s about who you know. Having a basic understanding of all the things I mentioned above at a young age is what I feel has kept me grounded and focused.
What I’m about to say is free game for those who don’t know. I did everything in my power to surround myself with people who were business minded, had common sense, and that uplifted me into new horizons. At a young age, I took initiative to strategically surrounded myself and build relationships with people that had passion and were ambitious. I have spent many years keeping my ear to the ground and networking with the watch community and entertainment community around the world. I love building relationships with people and connecting like-minded with each other.
How did designing for Lytt Labs come about?
A good friend and colleague of mine named Phil introduced me to a few of the team members, and a unique synergy was formed. I had the chance to observe the Inception model in my hands and the brand resonated with me right away. I felt like I was talking to people that truly had a passion to make a cool product with quality at an affordable level. A lot of brands talk and act like they are making quality products at affordable prices, but Lytt Labs was really doing it, and with their first watch, not their 10th watch if you know what I mean (laughs). I respect people who put heart and soul into what they are doing. So after building a foundation relationship we began exploring different design ideas for a new model and the rest is history!
What are you currently working on?
I can’t speak about designs I’m currently working on, but I am currently working on projects for several brands in the world of fast fashion and the luxury segment. I’ve expanded my mindset over the past few years to work with newer brands instead of always working with established brands.
Sometimes it’s hard working with brands that are established because they are not as flexible when it comes to creativity. Might I add, a lot of established brands feel they are Gods, so in their minds, stealing ideas from designers like myself is a daily excess for them that’s pure pleasure. It’s a constant battle fighting for my creative rights and freedom. I’ve recently been asking myself “is juice worth the squeeze” before I work with any brand. When I was younger I used to design for anyone, now I’m very selective.
What’s on your playlist?
I am a big fan of Rap and Jazz music but I also like R&B and Alternative Rock. My favorite artists are 2Pac, Miles Davis, Louis Armstrong, Weezer, Dre Dre, Outkast, The Pharcyde, Green Day, Gorillaz, Sublime, The Fray, Oscar Peterson, Kid Cudi, Travis Scott, John Coltrane, Scott Storch, Ella Fitzgerald, DMX, Mos Def, Jay-Z, Kanye West, Gucci Mane, Kendrick Lamar, Future, Coldplay, Fall Out Boy, Migos, Kodak Black, Gunna, Playboi Carti, Young Thug, Nav, Sheck Wes, Saint JHN, and Hlvf Sound.
How would you describe your personal style?
Well, I mainly grew up in Southern California and Hawaii. So my style of clothing is more urban streetwear and what they call luxury streetwear today (laughs). I also enjoy acquiring rare vintage merch. Although I do wear custom suits from time to time, I grew up wearing brands such as Supreme, Vans, Nike, Stussy, Bape, Billionaire Boys Club, World Industries, and DGK. Nowadays I still wear the same clothing brands but in addition to Off-White, Mad Happy, Fear Of God, Awake and many more.
Apart from work and creating, what else are you passionate about in life?
I’m really passionate about our space industry in the united states. It’s an interesting time to be alive. It’s exciting to be able to witness some of the amazing space missions our space industry has accomplished in the past few years. Not to mention the unique spaceships that have been designed by Blue Origin, SpaceX, and Virgin Galactic. NASA is like most watch brands, they created amazing things but still small innovations.
Complete this sentence: Take time to __________________
Take time to find a passion that brings you purpose in life, because there is nothing more fulfilling than finding something you would do whether you got paid to do it or not.