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Simple Genius: Devices For Telling Time Without Rudely Glancing At Your Watch

Glancing at your watch when someone’s gnawing your ear off? Rude. Gently caressing your watch when someone’s gnawing your ear off? Pretty harmless. Which makes Eva Rielland’s “Visualize differently” timepiece in slides four through six, above, something even Miss Manners could get behind: It lets you check the time (and plan your escape) using just the tips of your fingers.

The watch — a prototype — can be worn as a bracelet or necklace and comes with two rings that reveal the time by vibrating when you touch them. The number of vibrations corresponds to the number of minutes and hours that’ve passed, with the small ring showing the hour and the large ring showing the minute. Rielland tells us it was inspired by Abraham Louis Breguet’s 1795 “à tact” watch, which featured a system of knobs and a wind-up hand so people could discreetly feel the time in their pocket (thereby averting what in the 18th century must’ve passed for social suicide).

By our lights, the worst that can happen with Rielland’s design is that the aforementioned ear gnawer thinks you’re a little fidgety. That, or you’re unusually fond of your jewelry. Either way, the truly awkward social situation is avoided.

The watch is part of a larger suite of timepieces Rielland designed, none of which require a working set of eyeballs to use. The “Visualize differently” clock (above) tells time through variations in the texture of the face, and the “Visualize differently” timer (third slide) features origami-like folds that contract with the passage of time.

Read our earlier story on Rielland here.

[Images courtesy of Eva Rielland]

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