From Watches to Sneakers: How Innovation Transcends Industries

True innovators know that ideas don’t have limits. The best inventions have applications that stretch far beyond what the inventor initially imagined. This is how the Accutron Spaceview watch led to the Air Max 1, one of Nike’s most well known sneaker designs.

Back in 1960, Bulova released the first ever fully electronic watch: the Accutron. Customers were so fascinated by the new technology that they wanted everyone to see how it worked on the inside. A year later, Bulova released the Accutron Spaceview, a watch with all the gears visible through glass. The design was so popular that customers paid to have existing watches refurbished in the style.

When architect Richard Rogers received an Accutron Spaceview as a gift, it inspired him to design an “inside out” building in Paris, France. In 1977, he and collaborator Renzo Piano unveiled the Pompidou Center. While the design was initially met with controversy, it inspired Nike corporate architect Tinker Hatfield to change careers.

Tinker Hatfield switched to designing shoes after a fateful trip to Paris in the 1980s. Seeing the Pompidou Center inspired to include a transparent air bubble on the shoes he designed. These shoes eventually became the Air Max 1.

A Gift That Inspired History