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With Joe Babcock, Nixon’s watch category manager

May 22, 2015

THE STORY BEHIND: COMP AND COMP S

Every product starts with a story, an idea, an inspiration and nothing could be more true in the case of the Comp and Comp S. In keeping with Nixon’s team-designed, custom built brand mantra, it was conversations between Nixon’s in-house product design team and John John Florence (JJF) that kicked off the early concepting of what was soon to become the Comp and Comp S.

We sat down with Joe Babcock, Nixon’s watch category manager, to get the story behind the story.

What sparked the development of the Comp and Comp S? Who initiated the dialogue?
I had traveled to Hawaii during Triple Crown to meet up with the Nixon surf team. I connected with JJF at his home on the North Shore, and we got to talking about products: his likes, his dislikes, what he’d like to see in future products– we just got to riffing. It was totally informal. It was during this visit, and in-between PB&J sandwiches that his mom Alex made for us, that we got to talking about what JJF wanted in an amazing watch.

So, what was the ask?
In a few short minutes it was clear that JJF wanted a surf watch that looked like the Lodown but was much thinner and did not have pre-programmed tide data. He lives at the beach; he can see the surf conditions first hand out his backdoor. He needed a watch that was seaworthy, simple and could fit under a wetsuit.

That’s an easy request, any challenges in making this idea come to life?
The big challenge was: how do we cut the size of a digital watch in half? To get there we used the idea of “make the insides the outside.” If you look closely, you’ll see the entire watch case is actually a digital module with a lug. Meaning, instead of housing the module on the inside of a waterproof case, we streamlined the parts and pieces and engineered strength and water resistance directly into the module.

I basically just wanted a stripped down digital watch for my basic needs; time, date, heat timer. Then I challenged the guys at Nixon by asking how thin we could get it. I’m stoked on the result. It’s perfect, especially if you have to wear a wetsuit. It’s super thin. -John John Florence

Team Designed, Custom Built, how did that mantra play into this watch development?
In short, this product is a perfect articulation of the team designed, custom built process. JJF had the concept, and we designed and engineered it to bring his ideas to life; the final product is rad!

Tell us about the features:
The Comp and Comp S feature super simple functions, with just the right amount of what you need: countdown timer, light, day/date, waterproof, lockout mode and chrono. Plus, it’s the thinnest full function digital in the market.

In a time when smart watches are so prevalent, why go the other direction with a super simple digital?
We look at the Comp and Comp S and see a very smart watch. The construction alone is revolutionary and unlike anything in the digital watch space. Our decision to simplify the digital feature sets came from an understanding that many people want a digital watch that is simplified. We streamlined the feature sets to be the essential features and not anymore than that. Some people are intimidated by a digital watch and the concept of the Comp and Comp S being simplified and easy to wear is appealing to people inside and out of the water.

Anything to add?
Yes, go to a shop and try the watch on. It’s so simple and thin and you can’t even tell you are wearing it. It’s ideal for surfing, skating, snowboarding, or exercising.

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