The Bradley Element: A watch for the visually-impaired

Eone’s striking timepiece indicates the time by touch alone.

Designed for the blind consumer, the Bradley Element is a tactile timepiece that discreetly tells the time to your fingertips with a raised and angular façade.

The Bradley works with two receded tracks that hold dual tiny stainless steel ball bearings which rotate around the watch’s face with magnetism. The inner track’s ball position is a minute counter while the outer perimeter ball shows the hour position. Both indicators utilise the twelve raised and lowered edges of the watch’s circular landscape, matching the hour positions of a traditional watch in 3D form.

The timepiece is crafted from tough scratch-resistant ceramic and finished with a coat of Physical Vapor Deposition, adding an additional layer of military-style durability. The Bradley is manufactured chiefly in Darth Vader-esque matte black, but Eone offers a range of colour alternatives and combinations.

Speaking to The New Standard magazine, Eone’s Lead Product Designer Nick Gu explains the thought process behind the Bradley watch.

“The original Bradley design presents a clear distinction between the surface of the watch face and the marker system — the 12 protruded line segments that indicate the hours... The marker system for the original Bradley design is based on how traditional watch dials are set up, with the addition of protruding markers on the clean surface.

But this 3D design explores the potential of Eone’s watch surface. Other watches are limited to two dimensions because they have a flat piece of glass on top. But we have a unique opportunity to exploit the top surface expression because our watches are designed for touch as well as sight. We have the opportunity to radically redefine what a watch should be, even in the watch’s fundamental properties, such as how many dimensions the surface has. It’s very liberating in terms of design,” he says.

Apart from the clear benefit to the visually-impaired wearer, the Bradley is a salient solution for the situations where a distracted glance or glaring illuminated screen can be seen as rude, such as an in-depth business meeting or a movie theatre. Eone’s design allows the wearer to discern the time surreptitiously without disrupting attention, communicating time tangibly and sidestepping the need for vision.

The Bradley Element watch is named after the American ex-naval officer, Brad Snyder who unfortunately lost his vision following an explosion in Afghanistan in 2011 - but turned his grief to victory the following year, snagging gold and silver swimming medals at the 2012 London Paralympics. The timepiece’s design echoes its namesake’s resilience and ability to turn a disadvantage into a defining feature.

Eone is an industrial design company that is based in Washington DC. Watch the short clip below that demonstrates the minute-indicator of The Bradley Element in time lapse.

More on Design Thinking