Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Exploring the Ageing Timepiece

Part of my research into Material & Emotional Value.

While in Milan, for Milan Design Week, I came up with the idea of a watch that shows its own age.  My initial idea was to design a watch face with raised numbers made of sandstone.  As the hands of the watch wound down, they would wear down the sandstone numbers.  When you are young, time is so important to you – you clock-watch, count down the minutes and often wish your time away.  As you get older, the exact time becomes less important to you and you begin to appreciate where you have been.  This was the ethos behind the wind-down watch; as the watch ages, the time becomes less easy to read and eventually all you have left is the loose sand from where the numbers once were.

Chrono-Shredder - Susanna Hertrich: Source
In his essay on products and their relationship to time, Stuart Walker hypothesises that time has two distinct progressions; secular time and sacred time. (van Hinte, 2004)  Secular time relates to the everyday life of a person, it is linear and fleeting.  Sacred time is circular, it represents the changing of the seasons, the rotating of the earth, birth-life-death-renewal.  Our lives are dominated by the linear progression of time; we feel it slip through our fingers like grains of sand.  I personally find this concept quite depressing, and so enjoy taking time to notice the circular passage of time, which is much more uplifting and less finite.  Many critical design products play with the concepts of finite time – Susanna Hertrich’s Chrono-Shredder (Herford, et al., 2011) pessimistically shreds calendar days in front of your eyes; where as the Clock of the Long Now (Stuff You Should Know, 2012) tries to focus on the distant future, asking people to consider the impact their lives will have made in 1,000 years.

Clock of the Long Now: Source
To get the most out of the project, I decided to explore the concept of an ageing timepiece from as many different perspectives as I could; I made it my aim to come up with 10 different ideas around the theme.  Through brainstorming both the topics of ageing and timepieces separately and researching them I was able to come up with 9 individual ideas, including my original wind-down watch design.  Some were more fleshed out than others, but from the 9 I was able to narrow my selection down to 3 possible designs, one of which I would produce for the end of this module.  Given the timeframe, I decided to prototype the LED sundial.


Herford, M., Fast, F., Hundertpfund, J. & Kroger, M., 2011. Now. Perceptions of Time and Contemporary Design. 1st ed. Bielefeld: Kerber Verlag.
Stuff You Should Know, 2012. SYSK: What's the 10,000 year clock?. [Online]
Available at: http://www.stuffyoushouldknow.com/podcasts/whats-the-10000-year-clock/
[Accessed 25 April 2015].
van Hinte, E., 2004. Eternally yours: time in design. 1st ed. Rotterdam.