It's not often that we get to see a new form factor evolve before our eyes, but with the impending release of the Apple Watch, it's happening. We're not talking about the watch itself; design intricacies aside, its overall form factor is the same as for all wristwatches. We're talking about the charging stands, which a plethora of designers are undertaking for the aftermarket.
We know that the Apple Watch combines their MagSafe connection with inductive charging, and that single point of contact leaves plenty of room to design a form around.
What should it look like, how will people use it? Should the watch be elevated or lay flat? How will the cable be managed? Where does this object "live," on a desk or a nightstand? How much space should it take up? These are the questions designers have to answer, and we thought we'd take a look at some of their approaches:
Dodocase has opted for the elevated approach, choosing handsome Californian Walnut as the chief material. The magnetic contact nests into a cavity, and the cable exits via a channel routed in to meet it. We'd like to see the back of this thing, to see what happens to the cable between the stand and the outlet, but there's no image of that.
The base is a small chunk of solid steel, with its weight intended to prevent tipping.
The designers envision the case being toted along on trips, so the space beneath the charging surface and the base has been sized to fit the plug block. The cord is then meant to be wrapped around the entire thing, holding the plug block in place, though I can't see it looking this neat in reality.
Pad & Quill's Luxury Pocket Stand is also going with wood, in this case American Cherry or African Mahogany. They also envision the device being traveled with, and in the interests of keeping it slim, they've gone with a folding design. [Note: The copy on the photos are the company's words, not ours.]
With this one we've got a rear shot, so we can see what happens to the cable.
The slimness is certainly less chunky to travel with than Dodocase's design, but we don't see any provision to hold the USB end of the cable in place, nor is the attendant plug block accounted for in the design.
The arch-like design of Calypso Crystal's Timeless Moment perhaps uses less overall material than the previous two offerings, but takes up more space; with the orange leather, this object is apparently designed to be more of a focal point that a background object.
The cable is meant to ride along a channel inside the arch and defies gravity, we imagine, via a friction fit.
This object is apparently not meant to be traveled with, though they've designed this attendant case to carry the watch and, we assume, the loose charging paraphernalia in the side pockets.
I initially thought this strange because I assumed one would travel with their watch on their wrist, but this product is presumably targeting the luxury market, i.e. people that own multiple watches.
Rest's Composure Dock has the most simple design of all of these—and in the unlikely event they can consistently find chunks of Walnut as striking as the one in the photo, I think the prettiest.
A steel base fitted into the underside provides the weight to keep it in place on a table and houses the cable, which sneaks discreetly out of a little mousehole in the back.
What I find most appealing about Rest's approach is that they're thinking of this as part of a system: The rectilinear shape is meant to jive with a forthcoming phone charging tray and change tray.
There's no provision in this design to travel with, but frankly, I don't think I'd travel and lug a charging base along with me, just as I don't travel with my phone's dock; that just becomes one more thing to carry when the cord itself will suit me fine on the road.
Of course it's subjective, but in terms of solving a design challenge, which of these four approaches most appeals to you? I think the Rest team has got this one hands-down.
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We (Proper) recently announced our upcoming take on this with a product called Watchkeeper. Our design combines several of the abovementioned use cases into one protective, travel ready charge dock/case with internal cable management and storage. Definitely exciting to see how this new product impacts the Apple accessory ecosystem. More product info http://www.studioproper.com/pages/watchkeeperavailable here:
Link in above comment broke: http://www.studioproper.com/pages/watchkeeper
Consider comparing this one. (see link below) It is configurable depending on use case. It has a place to rest your iPhone for easy viewing and gives it an intentional place to leave it while charging, and the 45 degree angle at the top helps accommodate for all current Apple Watch band styles (closed and open) by allowing the user to orient the watch to the MagSafe connector in portrait or landscape.
I like the Calypso Crystal's Timeless Moment charger.