A Gift That Sparked a Creative Revolution

How could a watch and a shoe be related to each other, beyond being fashion pieces? 

Surprisingly, the Accutron (which was a popular wristwatch released in the 60s) inspired the design of the iconic Nike Air Max 1’s. They have also impacted popular culture in many ways that extend far beyond their given utility. 

Let’s dive into how both of these very influential brands came to become intertwined with each other. 

The Accutron was originally released on October 25th, 1960. At the time of its release, it was the first and most advanced electronic watch in the world. The first generation of electronic watches that preceded the Accutron were limited in accuracy, were prone to failure, and difficult to repair. The Accutron avoided these shortcomings by using tuning fork technology, which was first developed in 1866. It was characterized by using vibrating metal coils to mark the passage of time. 

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Once the Accutron was revealed to the public, it quickly gained popularity for its innovative technology, along with its unique design. The first models included an “open dial” design that incorporated a sliver of the watch face that allowed users to view the inner workings of the watch. The window model drew so much attention that in 1961, the Accutron Spaceview was introduced. The Spaceview made the watch face completely transparent, so that nothing about the mechanisms in the watch would be hidden from the user. 

The Accutron Spaceview spawned many cultural movements after its release. Transparent designs and demonstrating the inner workings of a structure became especially popular in architecture. The Centre Pompidou in Paris was opened to the public in 1977 and featured an open design that was inspired by the Spaceview. All of the ductwork, plumbing, and electrical wiring was moved to the exterior of the building. It slowly gained the admiration of the public after its unveiling.

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The admiration of Tinker Hatfield, a Nike architect, was also captured by the Centre Pompidou. He began to design a shoe, the Nike Air Max 1’s, that utilized components of the open design found in both the Centre Pompidou and the Accutron Spaceview. He created a trademark transparent air bubble element in his shoes that allowed the inner workings of the shoe to be viewed through a window. Since its conception, the Air Max 1s have featured the bubble in every model of the shoe. 

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Air Max 1s have been considered one of the most influential shoes of all time, similar to the standing that the Accutron holds in the watch space. It is extremely popular within hip hop and streetwear subcultures, and the shoes are still appreciating by 28% per year. Air Max Day has been created to celebrate the day that this iconic shoe was released. Some of the most popular collaborations include celebrities such as Travis Scott and other fashion brands such as Atmos. 

Who knew that a watch like the Accutron could go on to inspire one of the most famous designs in sneaker culture?


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