Back in December, my company showed its appreciation to all of the employees that have been with the company ten or more years by recognizing us at a holiday lunch and presenting us each with a watch. That may sound a little cliché, but it was heartfelt, and it is a very nice watch. It’s an Ebel model—very expensive. Apparently, the cost doesn’t come from an investment in Interaction Design.
When I went to Boulder, I was in a different time zone, but I couldn’t figure out how to set the watch. There is a knob on the side, as most analog watches have, but it wouldn’t turn, and I could pull it out. The watch hadn’t come with a manual. Google wasn’t able to turn up any useful information on the subject. I ended up not wearing the watch during the conference. When I got home, the watch was again the right time, of course, so I forgot about it.
The watch also displays the day of the month. Well, on Tuesday, March 1st, it said that it was the 29th. Once again, I went to work trying to figure out what to do with that knob, chipping my fingernails in the process. I asked my coworkers, and none of them knew either. The next morning, the other designer I work with triumphantly proclaimed he had figured it out. You had to turn the knob counter-clockwise to unlock it. Then the knob could be pulled out into two different positions to control the time and date.
There were a number of problems that kept me from discovering the solution. First of all, the lack of instructions, both in the box and online, is utter lunacy. Even so, I should have been able to figure out. Why couldn’t I? The knob was very tight. I tried turning it both directions, but I didn’t want to force it. I tried harder to turn it clockwise, as I have had watches that would only let you turn the hands forward. And it requires you to rotate it quite a bit before it unlocks, so even once you get it to turn, you may not turn it far enough before deciding that you are “doing it wrong.” Finally, I’ve never had a watch that required the knob to be unscrewed before it could be pulled out. It was unfamiliar, unintuitive, and uninformative: a triple threat.