Yuan Youmin "brings Chinese culture together with minimalist design" to create True Square watch for Rado

Designer Yuan Youmin explains how he created a special edition of Rado's True Square watch by drawing from traditional Chinese measuring instruments in this video produced by Dezeen for the Swiss watch brand.

Yuan drew inspiration from a traditional measuring device called a steelyard to design the watch for Rado, which is called Rado True Square True Heart.

Rado True Square True Heart watch by Yuan Youmin
Chinese designer Yuan Youmin has created a special edition of Rado's True Square watch

Steelyards work by using a sliding counterweight to counterbalance the load of an object placed in a tray at the end of a rod to indicate its weight.

"Steelyards have been anchored into Chinese life for almost two thousand years," Yuan explained in the video, which Dezeen filmed at his studio in Hangzhou.

"They consist of a graduated measuring rod, a weighing tray and a movable counterweight."

Rado True Square True Heart watch by Yuan Youmin
The design of the watch draws from traditional Chinese measuring instruments

Yuan took the dot graduation marks on a Chinese steelyard rod and used these as the basis for the hour markings on the timepiece.

"I used the dot graduation marked on the beam of a steelyard as a motif for the watch," he explained.

"The lever arms of the scales become the slender watch hands, the round dial represents the weighing tray."

The markings on the watch face are gold coloured. The back of the watch case features the representation of a phoenix.

"On the back of the watch case is an image of a phoenix, which symbolises rebirth of traditional elements," said Yuan.

Rado True Square True Heart watch by Yuan Youmin
The back of the watch features an image of a phoenix

Like all True Square watches, Yuan's watch for Rado is produced using the Swiss brand's injection-moulding technology and signature ceramic material.

"The watch is made from Rado's high-tech ceramic material, which is lightweight, scratch-resistant and pleasant to touch," said Yuan.

"The importance of craftsmanship is what unites ancient Chinese culture with the precision of Swiss watchmaking."

Rado True Square True Heart watch by Yuan Youmin
The watch is made from Rado's high-tech ceramic material

Rado has collaborated with a wide range of designers around the world to create special editions of its True Square watch.

Previous special editions include watches by designers Thukral and Tagra, Tej Chauhan, Formafantasma and YOY.

Yuan is a graphic designer, lecturer and curator based in Hangzhou, China. He runs a design agency called STUDIO0909 and is a professor at the China Academy of Art.

Yuan Youmin portrait
Yuan Youmin is a graphic designer, lecturer and curator based in Hangzhou, China

Yuan believes that the strength of his design lies in the rich history that inspired it.

"The watch brings together thousands of years of Chinese culture with contemporary minimalist design to create a sophisticated timepiece that combines different cultures and epochs," he said.

This video was filmed by Dezeen in Hangzhou, China.


Partnership content

This video was produced by Dezeen for Rado as part of a partnership. Find out more about Dezeen's partnership content here.