Erik Spiekermann: The Story Behind One of the Most Inspiring Visionaries and Information Architects of Our Time

Helvetica. A typeface so common that it can be instantly recognized by almost any person in the world. Its popular, Swiss made typeface design has been utilized all over the world by major corporations, the U.S. government, transportation systems, and major publications, to name a few. It is the most widely used sans-serif typeface, and its influence can be seen in various signage, major newspapers and magazines, company logos, and on an endless count of product packaging. Its distribution and use is as ubiquitous as the air we breathe, so it only made sense that Mondaine decided to introduce a unique watch collection that would be influenced and modeled by the well-known and familiar typeface. 

The Mondaine Helvetica No1 collection was the first to incorporate the recognizable typeface into its watches, with the famous "1" embedded into the case design and the numerals on the dial being set in a light, regular, and bold font. The recognizable font made the dial easy to read and elegant to look at, allowing the models to be seen as a true example of strength and aesthetic precision. As the Mondaine Helvetica collection successfully took off and gained a loyal consumer following, the brand decided that it would only make sense to create a series inspired and shaped by the renowned typographer and designer, Erik Spiekermann.               

When deciding to introduce a new creative and innovative collection, Mondaine wanted to make sure that they would be taking advice and design suggestions from only the best in the industry. So who better to ask to come on board than a legendary designer who has and continues to have a heavy impact on the subject of typography and contemporary design.

Thanks to Erik’s ingenious vision, professional input, and direction, Mondaine was able to constitute a line of watches that were not only seen as simple and elegant, but also stylish and strong in conviction. While the watches are a fascinating subject in themselves, what’s even more fascinating is the story behind the legend who had a tremendous influence on the way Mondaine makes and designs its products.   

One of the main reasons Mondaine chose to partner with the legendary Erik Spiekermann was due to his extensive knowledge and experience working with typography and graphic design. Mondaine felt confident that by partnering with Erik, he would provide the best insight, ideas, and proper assistance when creating the collection. To commemorate Erik for his efforts in helping to create the extraordinary collection series, Mondaine felt an obligation to pay homage to Erik's work by researching and divulging into his past to really understand how an influential pioneer and innovator rose to the top in his industry.


Born and raised in Germany, Erik first established his lucrative career at the University of Berlin. During his time there, he first came in touch with the subject of typography which led him to go on and open his own printing press in the basement of his own home. After graduating, he packed his bags and moved to London where he spent an entire decade teaching at the London College of Printing and freelancing as a graphic designer for several consulting agencies. Being as ambitious and assiduous as he was, he took his abundant knowledge and experience back to Berlin, where he partnered with two other graphic designers and founded MetaDesign. The success and prosperity of the business allowed it to expand to the U.S. and the U.K. At MetaDesign, Erik was able to lead and develop multiple projects for notable clients such as Audi, Volkswagen, and Berlin Transit.

Erik’s love of graphic design and typography coupled with his determination to start another company inspired him and his spouse, Joan Spiekermann, to join creative forces and launch a company called FontShop, which was recognized as “the first mail-order producer and distributor of electronic fonts.” Soon after, Spiekermann’s talent and exquisite work were recognized and awarded by the Academy of Arts in Bremen, where he was bestowed with an incredible opportunity to take on an honorary professorship. In addition to that, the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena honored him with with a doctorate for his valuable and influential work in the field of graphic design.

Erik continued his work by partnering with famous publishers such as the British magazine, The Economist, for which he redesigned the look and layout of the magazine. He even shared his esteemed and rich knowledge with the world by publishing his own book, titled Stop Stealing Sheep & Find Out How Type Works. Spiekermann has also been known to dedicate his time and diligent efforts to formulating many commercial typefaces for several notable corporate design programs. In 2006, Erik was awarded once again with a Gold Medal at the German Federal Design Prize for his creation of a new type system which transformed the way information was viewed and spread. His valuable and generous contributions in typography and graphic design rightfully earned him an induction into the European Design Awards Hall of Fame, as well as the Lifetime Achievement Award from the German Design Prize. Most recently, he can be recognized from his appearance in the documentary film, Helvetica

As you can see, the list of Erik Spiekermann’s accomplishments is close to endless. He is constantly being celebrated for his work and donations to the design industry, and that is only one of the many reasons Mondaine chose him to collaborate on creating a one-of-a-kind collection series that would resemble and feature his innovative, imaginative perspective and vision.

The Mondaine Helvetica Erik Spiekermann Collection truly stands out from the other models due to its series of unique features, such as Erik’s signature on the case back and its preservation of Mondaine's iconic red second hand. 

The Helvetica Erik Spiekermann collection presents styles that are subtle but bold, and they are a massive hit with the creative customers that identify with the brand values that are consistently upheld by Mondaine. Just like the original Helvetica No1 collection, the watches are available in Light, Regular, and Bold. All models feature a Swiss quartz movement accompanied by a scratch resistant sapphire crystal. The straps come in a stainless steel mesh or genuine calf skin leather option, depending on what type of look and feel you prefer. All of the models include the iconic SBB red second hand, which is normally not included in Mondaine's Helvetica series. 

 To view the entire Helvetica Erik Spiekermann collection, click here.