Focus on: Telling time

Six innovative timepieces that turn clock-watching into an unusual experience.

These days we have no real need for a timepiece: surrounded as we are by electronic gadgets that calculate the precise hour of the day through the internet, people are more likely to check the time on a mobile phone than on a watch.

The place of the traditional watch and clock has therefore moved from necessity to pleasure, with some innovations heightening the experience of reading the time. Here we round up some innovative designs, that show that time is not quite up for the timepiece!

The world’s first tidal-powered moon clock?

The Aluna moon clock is a proposed landmark powered by the moon’s gravitational energy harnessed directly from The Thames using tidal turbines. A 40m-wide sculpture, it would consist of three concentric glass rings that represent the lunar phase, the lunar day and the tide. Aluna combines advanced technology with an ancient knowledge of the Earth’s natural rhythms.

Counting the chimes of a gong

Spanish designer Jordi Pla Sabaté has designed an unusual wall clock that forces you to slow down in order to find out the time. In today’s time-poor age, this clock only gives away the hour when you want it to, and then communicates it through gong noises.

A high-tech paper watch

This watch by Fashion Electronics is made entirely of electronic paper, including the face and wrist strap. The display is activated when the user raises their wrist to look at the time. But that’s not all that makes it innovative; its release to market was somewhat unusual.

A face tilted to yours

Unlike the epaper watch, whose face display is activated by user movement, the Off-Axis Watch is designed so the wearer doesn't have to bend their elbow to check the time. Designed by Eric Janssen, the watch’s face is rotated 30 degrees to align it with the user’s face. Perfect for social situations where checking the time might be read as a slight!

The unrequited handshake

On the subject of social situations, here’s a watch with an hourly insult! British designer Dominic Wilcox created a series of miniature sculptures that play with the movement of the hands of a watch. The sculptures play out an inevitable scene every hour as the minute hand passes the hour on the face. Inside the glass dome a tiny man holds out his hand for a handshake, never to have it acknowledged.

A modern pocket watch

Designed by Frenchman Mathieu Lehanneur for Lexon, the Take Time watch is a sleek, contemporary version of a gentleman’s pocket watch. It can be slipped around the wrist or onto a belt or handbag: not only a tool but an accessory too.

Watch the Talk with Dominic Wilcox