Brand Ambassador for Geckota
I was surprised, honoured and humbled when asked to collaborate with Gloucestershire-based watch and watchstrap company Geckota Ltd, and be one of their first brand ambassadors.
Now, a year later, I feel less overawed and can see how our shared commitment to authenticity, original designs, ethical business and engaging stories means we complement each other remarkably well…
One of the things I like best is the match between our ethical and creative approaches. Like my Uchi brand, Geckota Ltd, and its WatchGecko e-commerce presence, grew from one man’s (Jonathan Quinn, Geckota Ltd’s founder) passion to source and supply quality watchstraps and watches. Jon saw an opportunity to create products that weren’t available at a certain quality and price point. Similarly, Uchi grew from my desire to express certain ideas and inspirational feelings in urban wear, artworks and homewares.
Grounded in authenticity
Both brands are grounded in authenticity – never parody. We’re committed to original designs, artistic integrity, good value and quality. And respect for what inspires us – always with an interesting backstory.
I grew up immersed in Hip Hop, but always believed that the culture is more than just ‘rap, dance and graffiti’. So, alongside a career dominated by design, printing, photography and typography, I was driven to create a brand that celebrated intelligent, deeper understanding of the Hip Hop culture. That was how the Uchi Clothing brand began in the 1990s. Since then, it’s evolved into a speciality bricks and mortar, and online, retail business in Bristol. And become a creator of original limited edition screen prints and luxury homewares inspired by lifestyles, science, mathematics and art. And now, measuring time…
I hadn’t worn my watches for years
I’ve always appreciated watches that were meaningful to me and own a couple with the simple, clear, analogue dials that I like. For whatever reason, I’d never got into the passion and intense enthusiasm of watch lovers – whether for affordable micro brands or ultra-luxury watches costing the price of a nice house in Bristol. Now I’m starting to explore this world – and ‘getting’ the passion that drives watch fans.
The nostalgia of old watches
To be honest, it took a few days actually living with some Geckota watches (their first-generation Miyota-powered K1 and K1 V28) to bring me around. Suddenly, I realised that I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed wearing nice watches. Especially watches with stories behind them, which Geckota’s certainly have.
There’s something about the nostalgia of old watches and their respectful contemporary homages. Maybe it’s the way they need winding – that regular daily attention like feeding a Japanese Tamagotchi. Or the tactility and constant reminder of geometric precision and micro-engineering that’s with you when they’re on your wrist.
Meeting the Geckota team and being given a couple of their pilot watches didn’t just rekindle my appreciation of watches. It reawakened something hard-to-define and nostalgic in me. Since then, I regularly catch myself being seduced by the tactility and micro-engineering of timepieces. Above all, I’m discovering this world and its design possibilities with fresh eyes. And growing more fascinated and inspired to create by the day.
A logical extension of my existing designs
I’d long harboured, and put off for years, a desire to experiment with more geometric, mathematical, mechanical and technical illustrations. Doing so seemed a logical way to extend my existing designs. They say every idea has its time. Being introduced to Geckota fits perfectly with my aspirations – and theirs.
With the gradual blossoming – like sakura across springtime Japan – of our relationship, I know the time has arrived. This renewed exposure to horology excites me with its opportunities to experiment with illustration inspired by watches’ geometric, mathematical and technical form. It’ll be an interesting, and well-overdue, extension of the creative work I’ve done before – including projects based on the Fibonacci sequence, the Golden Section, the mathematical constant Pi and designs featured in Spain’s Alhambra Palace.
A serendipitous opportunity
There’s something particularly inspiring when a serendipitous opportunity (in this case, being introduced to Geckota) corresponds with timely reawakening of aspirations. It’s given me the excuse to experiment with ideas that I’d put off for years. Perhaps in future, I’ll fulfil another long-held ambition and design a Uchi watch, maybe with Geckota. Why not?
Then there are the more immediate and realisable possibilities of teeshirts, watchstraps and high-quality prints inspired by classic watch formats. And of course, as with everything I’ve done already, they’ll be designed and printed in Bristol, and given my unique Uchi twist. As well as stretching my creativity, what a great opportunity to extend the exposure of the Uchi brand to new audiences.
Harnessing decades of experience
Now to embrace this new world (to me) of horology. I’m confident. It’s a long way from the disciplines of printing, photo-typesetting, desktop publishing, technical writing, typography, design and urbanwear that have occupied me for over three decades. But what an opportunity to harness everything I’ve learned and apply it to the world of watches and watch design…
As ever, I’ll listen to my inner voice. Then I’ll do what I always do – what I was put here to do – and draw on all those years of experience, and the influences shaping my approach to design: influences as diverse as Japanese language and culture; Hip Hop artists like KRS-One; typeface designers including Ed Benguiat and Jonathan Barnbrook; comic book illustrators such as Frank Miller; Animé masters Hayao Miyazaki; and even Harry Beck, the designer of the iconic London Underground map.
Let’s see where it all leads…
Take these, then mix with everything I’ve learned and the myriad ideas in my head. Trust the self-belief that’s served me so well before; be guided by my proven commitment to authenticity, artistic and production integrity, originality, and really caring for what I do. Basically, what served me so well for years.
And see where the world of watches and the new association with Geckota takes me…
Michael Langley is the founder-owner of Uchi Clothing and the Uchi Horology Collection, and a brand ambassador for UK-based watch brand Geckota Ltd.