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Watchismo Times

THE WATCHISMO TIMES WATCH BLOG A reliquary of obscure timepieces from bygone eras as well as the cutting-edge watch designs of today.

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Born with Discs Instead of Hands!

Born with Discs Instead of Hands!A few interesting examples of vintage watches with off-center discs in place of traditional hands. Above and below are two 1960's Juvenia with this rare deformity.

Born with Discs Instead of Hands!And below, a vintage Russian Raketa "Rocket" (printed in cyrillic as Paketa) with double disc-hands. One solid sphere for hours and outline disc for minutes. See it here-->Link

Born with Discs Instead of Hands!1960s Raketa Sun & Moon Dial

Related Posts;
History of Russian Watches
Juvenia Architecture Watch
Alternative Time Displays
Jumping Hours

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TIME OF DEATH - Antique Rotating Eyeball Skull Clocks by Oswald - HAUNTED HOROLOGY #3

TIME OF DEATH - Antique Rotating Eyeball Skull Clocks by Oswald - HAUNTED HOROLOGY #3I recently featured the antique rotating eyeball clock genre (here), but since I can't seem to stop featuring death related timepieces, here are a few more of the very rare skull versions. These eight day novelty clocks were built by Oswald of Germany between 1926 and 1944. These models are quite hard to find and generally cost a few thousand dollars.

TIME OF DEATH - Antique Rotating Eyeball Skull Clocks by Oswald - HAUNTED HOROLOGY #3The dials are represented as the eyes separating the hours on the left and minutes to the right. Most of their collection feature cross-eyed genies, monkeys, gnomes, owls, and dogs (LOTS of dogs).

Patent information here-->Link


TIME OF DEATH - Antique Rotating Eyeball Skull Clocks by Oswald - HAUNTED HOROLOGY #3
TIME OF DEATH - Antique Rotating Eyeball Skull Clocks by Oswald - HAUNTED HOROLOGY #3Related posts;
1610 Screaming Skull Clock

Mary Queen of Scots Skull Watch
All Memento Mori Posts
Other Oswald Eyeball Clocks

Last few days to enter!
Enter The Watchismo Times 1st anniversary vintage chronograph giveway!-->LINK


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Vintage Watching - LIP Sector Retrograde, Unusual Heuer, and a Sandoz Mystery Dial

Vintage Watching - LIP Sector Retrograde, Unusual Heuer, and a Sandoz Mystery DialClick to view LIP Retrograde auction

This week on Vintage Watching, I'm featuring one of my favorite watches, the 1973 LIP sector retrograde. They came in a few styles and rarely found for sale. The one above features double retrograde hands (they fly back to the left instantly when reaching the far right) showing hours on bottom and minutes on top.

Vintage Watching - LIP Sector Retrograde, Unusual Heuer, and a Sandoz Mystery DialClick to view the Heuer Auction

Just when I think I've seen every oddball Heuer chronograph of the sixties & seventies, I stumble upon another like the one above. Featuring a very unusual off center 60 minute register. (Update - This might be a fake according to vintage Heuer expert Jeff of OnTheDash.com) Oh well...


Vintage Watching - LIP Sector Retrograde, Unusual Heuer, and a Sandoz Mystery DialClick to view Sandoz Mystery Dial auction

I've seen a few interesting vintage mystery dials from Sandoz, but this unusual 70's "Duplex" above features double-sided hour and minute hands that alternate in length and color when rotating into the visible top portion of the dial. Paul Smith also created a contemporary watch with this style of display->link. Day and month are displayed vertically in the lower obscured hemisphere. Supercool!

Related Posts;
Retrograde Watches
Mystery Dials
Vintage Heuer



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About Time by Buro Vormkrijgers

About Time by Buro Vormkrijgers Dutch designer Buro Vormkrijgers rotating concept clock "About Time" reveals the passing of time by rolling around your desk and telling time in one long continuous sentence. Simply telling you "It's about six o'clock" or "it's almost seven now".

A similar concept to the approximated timing of the Vinta Tilt Clock I featured a while back.

About Time by Buro VormkrijgersClose-up of the time sentence

About Time by Buro VormkrijgersMade from black anondized aluminum
measures 230mm wide x 90mm deep.

Available for $179 here-->Link
Buro Vormkrigers website-->Link

Related Posts;
Vinta Tilting Clock
All other Clock Features



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The Cloud Clock of Grindell "Death Ray" Matthews

The Cloud Clock of Grindell From the 1933 issue of Popular Science;

LIGHT PRINTS TIME ON CLOUDS

Once engaged in the development of a death ray for possible military use, H. Grindell-Matthews, British inventor, has developed a new gun for projecting light rays. A motor carriage supports the cannon-like projector, which is designed to throw signs upon clouds miles away, and is an improved model of one he demonstrated in New York City not long ago. By inserting a special clock with a transparent face and opaque hands and figures in the projector, the correct time is also thrown on clouds.

Grindell Matthews was most infamously known for his incredible (so-called) inventions like an aeronautical wireless phone in 1911 and a airplane dropping death ray in 1924. He was a visionary as much as he was a charlatan. Actually, his first real invention was huge...The first talking film in 1921 (years before Hollywood). Sadly, the British film industry told him the "talkies" would never catch on. Karma is a bitch.

This Cloud Clock, looking more like an actual death ray machine, was part of his Sky Projector invention. Casting images of everything from angels and American flags in the sky, the potential for advertising never caught on for this project and his company went bankrupt soon after.

Learn much more about Grindell Matthews controversial inventions and history here-->Link


The Cloud Clock of Grindell April 1933 Popular Science featuring the Cloud Clock

The Cloud Clock of Grindell Grindell Matthews

The Cloud Clock of Grindell The Sky Projector

via Modern Mechanix and Fortean Times


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The Time of your Life and Death - Mr. Jones Watches

The Accurate, Mantra, Decider, Right or Wrong, and More or Less are all the latest limited edition conceptual timepieces from Mr. Jones Watches.

Last time I featured Mr. Jones Watches-->Link, he had an exhibition-only series of prototype electronic watches developed to explore new cultural expressions, technologies of timekeeping and how they relate to contemporary life. "Each one was the embodiment of a social critique or observation." With a perfect sense of black humor, cultural irony and dry wit, London based Crispin Jones, the man behind the Mister, described his concepts as "work which lives in the intersection between Fine Art and Design - broadly this area is known as Critical Design - using the language and tools of design to articulate a critical perspective."

Now, his latest collection has taken this concept to public consumption. Featuring analog watches with rotating discs, each style of Mr. Jones Watches will be produced in a limited numbered series of 100. (£79.99 each - approx $159) Don't lose any more time, they're close to selling out! And just released this week, a series of Mr. Jones Watch videos by artist Steve Ounanian. Click play on any of the videos below.

The Accurate

The Accurate, evolved from his original Summissus watch, it's a watch that fosters humility in the wearer by featuring a mirrored dial to reflect the viewer together with a semi-subtle Memento Mori reminder of your inevitable mortal timeframe. The hour and minute discs spell out "Remember" and "You Will Die".

Crispin mentioned, "For the Mr Jones Watches project I worked with two other designers (Ross Cooper and Graham Pullin) we took a fairly broad overview of what the watch means to people (as an object rather than as a time keeping tool). For part of the research we tried to look at interesting things which people did in the past, i'm always quite drawn to products which didn't quite succeed in the marketplace." He also let me know that my humble Watchismo websites have been "an invaluable resource for information like this."



The Accurate interpreted by Steve Ounanian->Video

The original "Summissus" from his 2004 one-off series
Site-->Link & Video-->Link

The Mantra alternates a very positive statement (e.g. "you are amazing") with a very negative one (e.g. "nobody likes you"). The Mantra makes the arrogant person more humble and makes the humble more confident.


The Mantra interpreted by Steve Ounanian-->Video

The Decider is a watch for indecisive people - when you need to make a decision you simply look at your watch to see whether it is displaying "YES" or "NO" (if you are inclined to cheat then you can pull out the winding crown which stops the mechanism giving you an answer with no ambiguity).

The watch can also answer a more complex question - when you receive it tell the watch what you want to know, then wait until the battery runs out - whatever the watch stops on YES or NO is your answer...



The Decider interpreted by Steve Ounanian-->Video



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The FREAK(s) of Ulysse Nardin

There is no dial, there are no hands, there is no crown, and the movement itself rotates to tell the time. One of the more important developments in the history of watchmaking, the Ulysse Nardin Freak is definitely a new mechanical breed. It's as if the watchmakers lived on The Island of Doctor Moreau. One of the earlier mustations (2003's No.339) is being offered at auction next week-->Link

As explained by HH, "The concept was a technical tour de force, requiring the combined efforts of three of watchmaking’s most renowned engineers. The arrangement of parts was inconceivably unorthodox - it has essentially no true case! The crystal and the bezel are actually part of the movement; the Freak has no crown, no hands and the movement pivoted to indicate time."

No. 339 Freak

And most recently, Ulysse Nardin developed the 'InnoVision' Freak (below). Improving breakthroughs with more extensive use of the light flexible material silicium throughout the movement and 96 non-lubricated ball bearings guide the barrel both vertically and laterally, in fact, the entire watch is now oil/coating/lubrication free.


A chart of the 10 innovations of the InnoVision Freak

If you'd like to attempt a deeper understanding of this wormhole of complexity, continue reading in depth articles here-->Horomundi and-->The Purists or download the PDF's at the Ulysse Nardin's website-->Link

The Freak is the brainchild of Dr. Ludwig Oechslin, as interpreted by Ulysse Nardin's research and production team. "The Freak" is a tourbillon of 7-day duration, without hands or winding crown. In most tourbillons, the balance wheel assembly rotates once per minute in a cage. In the "Freak", the whole movement rotates once per hour, the drive wheel meshing with teeth around the whole circumference of the dial, a similar arrangement mounted below driving the hour wheel. The mainspring is located underneath the movement and spans the entire diameter of the case. The extra large size of the mainspring provides the watch with a power reserve of one week. Winding is accomplished by turning the back of the case anticlockwise. The “Dual Direct Escapement” invented by Dr. Ludwig Oechslin, astronomer, mathematician and master watchmaker. Among his many inventions for Ulysse Nardin are the "Perpetual Ludwig" and the "Trilogy" of astronomical wristwatches. The “Dual Direct Escapement” consists of 2 impulse wheels transmitting the energy directly to the balance wheel; they each rotate in the same direction and connect alternately with the balance. Using the technology of the CSEM (Centre Suisse d'Electronique et de Microtechnique), the 2 wheels at the center of the “Dual Direct Escapement” are plasma-engraved out of single-crystal silicon, the material from which computer chips are made. This technique offers the greatest hardness coupled with low weight."

Source - Antiquorum

Released earlier this year, the "The FREAK DIAMonSIL® in platinum is the first timepiece sporting a synthetic nanocrystal diamond escapement grown on a silicium raw part." (source -> HH)

Ulysse Nardin website-->Link


Be sure to enter The Watchismo Times 1st anniversary vintage chronograph giveway!-->LINK





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The Meandering History of Wandering Hours

The Meandering History of Wandering HoursThe Wandering Hour display (also known as a Floating Hour or Chronoscope) has been around four centuries. In 1656 the Campanus brothers had built a night clock for Pope Alexander XII. In a total innovation, they replaced the then conventional hands with hour figures on rotating discs, which performed a semicircular arc across the clock face. The correct figure appeared at the start of each new hour. It then moved clockwise across the arc of the dial and, depending on its progress, simultaneously marked the quarter or half-hour, which had just passed. Alexander's night pendulum clock was illuminated by an oil lamp so that the pope could see the time in the dark. The concept is that the moving hour display keeps an almost metaphorical count of the passing minutes rising and setting along the hourly arc.

"It is a deceptively simple and elegant system, and it is literally as old as the combination of concentric hours and minutes hands to which we are so accustomed. -- The orbit of the elegantly simple planetary ring, and the epicyclic dance of hour numerals which surrounded it, remained hidden beneath a solid dial." (source)

The Meandering History of Wandering HoursCampani Brothers Tabernacle Night Clock
Late 17th Century --> Link

Below are samples of Wandering Hour watches over the past four centuries. Only during the past few decades have watchmakers realized the full beauty of this display and exposed their dials to reveal the symbolic inner workings as part of the design itself.

The Meandering History of Wandering HoursWatches with wandering hour dials first appeared in the 17th century. In England, they were often commissioned by the King, to be presented to visitors or in recognition of loyalty to the country. The watch above from 1710 is likely the portrait of Frederick I of Prussia (1657-1713) -->Link

One of the earliest watchmakers to adapt this style to a pocket watch was British watchmaker Joseph Windmills. Joseph Antram, watchmaker to the King of England also produced wandering hours like this one-->Link

The Meandering History of Wandering HoursA variation was the 'Sun and Moon' dial. A 1750 Dutch pocket watch by G.Knip (above). Within the inner half ring, a revolving disc is painted with the sun and moon rotating every 24 hours, thereby indicating not only the hour but whether it is day or night. A minute hand was used in the normal circular fashion. -->Link Another model-->Link

The Meandering History of Wandering HoursSideview of the 'Sun Moon' Wandering Hour

The Meandering History of Wandering Hours1820 Chronos Breguet Wandering Hour
Etablissement Mixte series

Typically, four digits appear on three disks, each rotating epicyloidally one quarter while out of view and advancing to the next corresponding hour. The minutes were easily approximated by the hour position within the arc.

The Meandering History of Wandering HoursBreguet Wandering Hour Wristwatch by Gubelin

The Meandering History of Wandering HoursThe Audemars Piguet "Star Wheel" reinvented this system in the early 1990s, creating many variations of wandering hour wristwatches. "Three transparent sapphire disks, or star wheels, are each inscribed with four hour indicators and attached to a rotating center wheel. As the assembly turns, the current hour indicator is rotated into view and then passed across a 120-degree minutes sector. The time is read by noting the visible hour pointing to the current minute." (source) Additional information-->Link

The Meandering History of Wandering HoursStar Wheel Sapphire Disks

Each disk is obscured until it rises into the arc where the background contrasts the digits into legibility.

The Meandering History of Wandering HoursLate 1990s "John Schaeffer Star Wheels"
With Minute Repeater

The Meandering History of Wandering Hours2000 Millenary Star Wheel
125th Anniversary Model

The Meandering History of Wandering HoursVincent Calabrese "Horus"

"The wandering dates conceived by Vincent Calabrese (above & below), The jumping hour hand is displayed in a small window that turns around the dial, showing the minutes passing. There is only one hand on the dial, that of the seconds. The same principle as it applies to the date is a world first." (source)

The Meandering History of Wandering HoursVincent Calabrese "Ottica"

The Meandering History of Wandering HoursAlain Silberstein Wandering Hour "Cyclops"

These orbiting satellite displays have had a few revivals over the past 300 years but only in wristwatches in the past few decades. The brand Urwerk (below) is taking this very old concept to interstellar levels. Their revolutionary wandering hour displays have become three dimensional, the numbers are placed on spinning conical discs or rotating cubes with retractable retrograde pointers.

The Meandering History of Wandering HoursUrwerk's original 101
Inspired by the Campanus Night Clocks
and the Millennium Falcon from Star Wars

The Meandering History of Wandering HoursUrwerk series 102 "Nightwatch"
also known as "Sputnik"

The Meandering History of Wandering Hours
The Urwerk wandering display was just too cool to keep covered.

The Meandering History of Wandering HoursUrwerk 103 series
Their first display with exposed hours

"The innovative rotating satellite complication is the heart and soul of the 103 series of watches. The orbital cross carries the four hour-satellites and an internal Geneva cross governs each of these satellites. Each of the satellite features three hour numbers four hours apart. As a satellite approaches the crown, its Geneva cross engages a pin and rotates the disk 120° for the new hour to take its position." (source)

The Meandering History of Wandering HoursThe Urwerk 201 'Hammerhead'

The Meandering History of Wandering HoursThe Urwerk team evolved their Wandering Hour into cubes and retrograde minutes for the Harry Winston "Opus V."

The Meandering History of Wandering HoursQP Magazine recently featured this public clock in London, The Newgate Clock, possibly the only public wandering hour clock in the world. It was created by horologist Joanna Migdal and inspired by Joseph Windmills original designs. See how it works here-->Link

"The innovation lies not only in the display which evokes the natural course of the sun on the horizon, but also on the original satellite mechanism whose future applications are yet to be discovered." (source)

Related Posts;
Jump Hour Watches
Mystery Dial Watches
Watch History
Retrograde Watches

Find other watches


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L.R.D. Light Reflecting Display - Original Amida Digitrend Advertisement



A very rare advertisement of the from the 1976 Basel Fair. Now it's clear that the brand was creatively competing with the electronic digital (LED & LCD) watch market with their "New Generation of Digitals", the mechanical "LRD" (Light Reflecting Display).

The watch was previously featured here-->Link

The Amida Digitrend simply created a hand-wound jump hour digital watch, printed the numbers backward in orange (emulating LED digits), and reflected them sideways through a prism correcting the numbers in the display. Genius!


The reverse-printed dials
Made with a few different names
This one by Hudson


Related Stories;
All Jump Hour Posts
All Digital Posts



1970s Longines Comet Mystery Dial

1970s Longines Comet Mystery Dial
The Longines Comet, a short-lived automatic mystery dial from the seventies. Featuring a big spinning arrow for hours and an orbiting dot for minutes.

A new-old stock model available here

1970s Longines Comet Mystery DialYellow Comet

1970s Longines Comet Mystery DialTurquoise model with original bracelet
& a rare studded-marker version here

Related posts;
Mondia Mystery Dials-->Link
Watches With Balls-->Link
Marc Newson Pod Watch-->Link


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Born with Discs Instead of Hands!TIME OF DEATH - Antique Rotating Eyeball Skull Clocks by Oswald - HAUNTED HOROLOGY #3Vintage Watching - LIP Sector Retrograde, Unusual Heuer, and a Sandoz Mystery DialAbout Time by Buro VormkrijgersThe Cloud Clock of Grindell "Death Ray" MatthewsThe Time of your Life and Death - Mr. Jones WatchesThe FREAK(s) of Ulysse NardinThe Meandering History of Wandering HoursL.R.D. Light Reflecting Display - Original Amida Digitrend Advertisement1970s Longines Comet Mystery Dial

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