Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Will it tick?

Posted by Will it stand? at 7:29 PM
Can you tell the time on my new watch? There should be many ways of marking the passage of time. Why are we limited to digital numerals and analog spinning hands? Throughout time many devices, including water clocks and sun dials, were developed, but here in the Western world we've coalesced around two standards.

I love my new Nooka watch. It's digital but analog at once. The 12 dots represent the hours and the horizontal bar fills as the minutes accumulate. It is graphic, simple and unreadable upon first glance by most literate people. It does not ascribe outrageous accuracy to the precise time. Unless you are linked to the atomic clock at the US Naval Observatory, your timepiece is probably wrong.

The literature that came with the watch puts the experience this way: "The linear and graphic representation of time with Nooka watches presents a more intuitive way to view time. The visual mass increases as time passes, giving weight to an ephemeral and abstract concept."

To me this new form is analogous to the seeking of new architecture. From classical to modern and beyond, architecture is constantly evolving. Good architects use developments in technology and practice to design better buildings.

In his controversial work "Toward an Architecture," Le Corbusier wrote that architects should seek standardized forms. He provides the example of the evolution of classic column orders and temple plans into a precise template. Cars too, it was argued, achieved a similar standardization. However, the motor vehicle could now be used as an example to disprove the point. Car companies are attempting to re-form the personal vehicle to be more efficient and run on alternative fuels, but they are constrained by the preconceived standard.

Vehicles, buildings and, apparently, watches are all experiencing a reinvention for the 21st century. Designers of all breeds have their work cut out for them. Finding simple examples of innovation fuel inspiration to improve our relationship with our environment.

Would you wear a Nooka watch? Do you ever wear a wristwatch at all? What other forms do you think timepieces will take on in the future (besides the obvious cell phone)? Do you feel that relating the design of watches, cars and buildings is at all appropriate. Please add your comments below.

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1 comments on "Will it tick?"

Anonymous said...

I don't know if you ever read Richard Feynman, but one of the things he would do with his traditional dial watch was to set it forwards or backwards by some random interval. If he was asked for the time he would say something to the effect of 'in 35 minutes it will be 8:14am in Tokyo' based on how ever he had mis-set his watch that day. all he was doing was repeating a memorized offset and then reading the time on the watch. While the poor schmuck who asked him the time of day was looking bewildered he would do the math in his head to figure out what time it really was. love the binary watches though. Makes you wonder, what time was it in Bruges 3hrs 24 minutes ago?

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