Crazy Watch Designs

Published: September 15th, 2007

Watches have always been about more than simply telling the time. A century ago just about every briton lived and worked within earshot of a church, the bells of which would toll the quarter hours regularly as the Greenwich pips do today. But to be able to pull out a polished fob marked you out as a man of importance. Today clocks are built into mobiles and other gadgets we carry, so watch makers have to come up withever weirder ways to make us take notice. The latest? Watches that are deliberately difficult to read.

The most affordable come from Japan, but some of the worlds most exclusive watchmakers also offer impenetrable timepieces.

Urwerk RG 103.06
£58,000, urwerk.com
Urwerk RG 103.06

Hours are displayed on four orbiting satelites. As each comes in contact with the dial at the base it takes an hour to skim across, showing minutes elapsed.
At the 60-minute mark, the next satelite picks up at minute one.

E35 JLR7
£63, Tokyoflash.com

E35 JLR7

The first dozen LED’s light up one per hour (and the top row of them also shows the name, JLR7). The next three – in a matt band – light up every 15 minutes; the next 14 do so every minute. The final three – also in a matt band every second.

Eleeno webtime elite
£72, tokyoflash.com

Eleeno webtime elite

Irregular, rotating polygons cross through ladders of numbers. First look at the edge of the orange polygon. If it slants upwards from left to right as it crosses the top ladder, read the number on the left to find the hour. If slanting downwards, choose from the right. Now look at the white polygon. If the line slants downwards, read off the minutes from left to the bottom ladder; and vice versa if it slants upwards. Its a miracle anyone ever turns up on time in Japan…

Shinshoku
£63, tokyoflash.com

Shinshoku

A stainless steel band with 29 LED lights. Those below the wavy line light up one per hour, the three to the right represent 15 minute apiece and the 14 to the left are minutes.

1000100101
£64, tokyoflash.com

1000100101

This Japanese puzzler is not binary but decimal. The top left light comes on after ten hours, the nine next to it give hours from 1-9 and 11-12; The next five light up at ten minute intervals; the last nine show minutes

Opus 7
£50,000 , winston.com

Harry Winston Opus 7

Turn every time check into a feat of manual dexterity. One press on this Harry Winston watch’s crown turns the dial in the upperright to display the hours, a second press and the same dial displays the minutes – which means you can’t work out the time from a single photograph.

Azimuth Mecha-1
£1,995, azimuthwatch.com

Azimuth Mecha-1

The four small faces are for chronographic functions – Only the racing style dial at the top actually gives the time. Swiss watch maker Azimuth spurns everthing but traditional mechanisms.

Cabestan Winch
£200,000, cabestan-watches.ch

Cabestan Winch

That really is a chain driving this barmy Swiss watch, complete with a vertical tourbillon. You need to use a winch to wind the thing up, which is then stored in the bracelet buckle. To find the hour, look at the upper part of the watch and read the number on the dial second from right. For minutes look at the bottom right dial.