Relativity watch reacts to your activity level (updated)

Design submitted by Anders from Sweden & Peter from the UK.

Anders & Peter say: Time, they say, is constant … linear … consistent ~ well, everyone but theoretical physicists anyway. But the way we experience or perceive time can be anything but consistent.

When we are enjoying ourselves time is said to fly by, when we are bored time seems to slow down and drag.

“Relativity” is a watch concept that hopes to make this subjective perception of time visible.

There are many ways that this perception of time could be displayed, our original thought was to have an LCD or e-paper display showing the time in an analogue format. There were a number of more or less crazy ideas flying back and forth; the hands could get longer or shorter or could be on an elliptical path again to exaggerate this effect. The hands could speed up, slow down or stop all together. Also icons could be used like play, fast forward, rewind pause etc, again to exaggerate the effect. Finally we landed in a somewhat less outlandish concept that still made use of our core ideas; When the watch detects reduced movement/activity (perhaps using an accelerometer) or body temp sensor or is pre-set by the user (between the hours of 9-5 for example), the numbers/markers of the display spread out, get smaller or further away from the centre of the display, making the gaps in between seem bigger and longer as if to suggest time is travelling slowly.

When more activity is detected the numbers bunch up to suggest time is moving more quickly.

To keep the watch intuitive and hopefully also attractive we came up with a simple array of (LED/LCD) tracks, a circular grid if you will, to display the time.

The minutes and hours are displayed by two animated ‘snakes’ differentiated by colour or intensity that can follow smaller or larger rings (changing at the hour positions) as the watch senses the wearer’s activity levels or mood.

This movement between the different sizes of rings creates a castellated shape which we have echoed throughout the design.

It also creates natural markers at the twelve analogue positions.

The larger the path the snakes are traveling the slower the perception of time is as the hours look longer, the smaller the paths the faster time seems to be travelling.

To exaggerate this effect further the two snakes could pulse or animate faster or slower. Or if you were a complete sadist could even start going backwards and display a counter-clockwise time display. If colour-changing LEDs were used the colours of the snakes could also change to enhance the effect even more. Green to red via amber seems an intuitive transition.

The time telling method/display style would lend itself to a multitude of materials, finishes and case styles. We have gone for an industrial look which would probably appeal mostly to the chaps but there’s no reason a unisex or feminine look could also be achieved. A turned or brushed metal look on the face does a great job of camouflaging the tracks/rings, letting them hide in plain sight. A glossy tinted lens could give the design a techy mysterious look. A leather strap could add a little class to the proceedings allowing the watch to be worn with more formal attire too. Alternatively a plastic strap could give a more sporty look.

The unusual time telling combined with the watch’s ability to sense the wearers’ perception of time and communicate that back to the wearer sets this design apart from others. Though the relatively straightforward time-telling probably won’t appeal very much to the hard-core ‘crypt-fiends’, the display pattern and its purpose should act to give the concept a certain level of mystique and interest beyond the obvious.

UPDATE: In reference to feedback from the blog Anders has done a new image with a wider leather strap. Peter has made an animated gif showing the same time on two watch faces, one when time is perceived to be travelling slowly (little activity) and one showing time travelling quicker.

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52 Responses to “Relativity watch reacts to your activity level (updated)”

  1. avatar Tokyoflash Japan Product Design Studio says:

    I am really enjoying the cog like appearance & that fits very nicely with the concept. The details reflecting that around the edge & on the face is a nice touch.
    The circular brushed effect on that steel gives a good solid feeling too.
    The metal strap version is my favourite, interesting how the links are offset.

    Personally, not so keen on the leather strap, only because it looks a bit too narrow. Perhaps with more bulk it would fit with the case better.

    • avatar Pete says:

      Hi Toky,
      Interesting observation on the castellations looking like cogs or gear teeth! It never occurred to me until now (not on a conscious level anyway ;) cogs certainly tie in with watches and clocks and has steampunky connotations. A chunkier leather strap is certainly an option and an easy mod. Cheers for the feedback and posting this design on the blog! :D

    • avatar william says:

      I like it very much when you (people from TF) give some direct feedback on the blog, specially on the technical aspects.
      I hope that you will keep on posting regularly, because your opinion and your experience (both on the technical and aesthetic aspects) are very valuable to correct some issues we do not always have a clue about.
      Thanks for the good job.

    • avatar Anders S says:

      Glad you like it! =) I hadn’t thought of the cog thing either, but it’s nice when people see something more than you did when you were working on it…

      The leather strap is actually my work, and I agree with your points about the width. It looks like it does because I re-used an old model, and I was too lazy to remodel/widen the lugs on the watch (mostly since Pete and I use different softwares and the model tesselates oddly in the conversion)… But like my esteemed colleague says; it’s an easy fix. =)

      Also, I second William’s comment above.

      • avatar Pete says:

        Hey Anders, is it possible to change the scale in specific directions of your strap model? If so you could increase the scale width wise and notch the strap around the lugs. Might be a quick way of simulations TF’s suggestion?

        • avatar Anders S says:

          Well, yeah… If I’d thought about that (and mustered up the energy)…=) I might try it if I can find the time.

      • avatar Tokyoflash Japan Product Design Studio says:

        Thanks for the updated images, I have added them above. How do you feel about the wider strap? I like it, feels more balanced.

        • avatar Pete says:

          Thanks a lot for adding the extra images. I have to agree (sorry Anders! ;) ) the wider strap looks better proportioned and more robust. It was worth the extra effort. :D

        • avatar Anders S says:

          Thanks for the update!

          I agree about the strap; it does fit the lugs better, though the narrow strap might be a better choice for a women’s version (possibly with a slightly redesigned case)…

    • avatar Pete says:

      Hi Toky, here is a link to my fb page showing the Relativity album with a new wider leather strap option.
      I will send a copy via email so if you get the chance could you add it to the post?

  2. avatar Pete says:

    Cheers Anders for the coop, it was fun and it’s great to see it here on the blog! :D

  3. avatar gordon says:

    beautiful watch, congrats on the great teamwork

  4. avatar Samukun says:

    Ahhhh so nice seeing you collab! I like the snakey display with its “natural markers” and the industrial look of the case and the backround idea of relativity.

    “… the numbers/markers of the display spread out, get smaller or further away from the centre of the display, making the gaps in between seem bigger and longer…”

    I would have liked a sleeping-guy-display and a running-cos-i-robbed-a-bank-display for comparison. The differences in the wearer’s activities doesn’t come out clearly.

    Pulsing or flashing or re-illuminating plus the different display types could really make a new watch. It’s definitely something TF should think about. Good luck guys!!

  5. avatar Patrick says:

    Hi Anders and Pete, beautiful work in collaboration with a good résulat with the final one. If it were possible to very discreetly add markers on metal, for the minutes alone and to thicken subtly, the line of the hour for a clearer differentiation? They are only personal details.
    I reassure Anders, I also used old bracelets for new watches and indeed, that never functions very well, we learn all…
    All this deserves beautiful 5 stars and a myriad of scintillating stars.

    • avatar Anders S says:

      Thanks for the kind words Patrick, I think I can speak for both of us when I say that we’ll take all the stars we can get…=)

      I suppose minute markers would be possible, but it shouldn’t be necessary as the LED/LCD segments are individual and there would be a slight gap between them, and also because the castellations around the edge and in the middle step in/out at the hour positions, and thus act as markers. Making the hour line wider would be tricky, as both hours and minutes use the same LEDs/LCDs…

      As for the re-used strap, well… It’s not the first time I’ve done it…=) I guess the reason it works less than perfectly this time is a combination of my laziness and Pete’s (good) choice of ‘stepping in’ the metal strap for the lugs. And me not thinking about it… And me not working the existing strap around it… Basically it’s my fault…=)

      • avatar Patrick says:

        Ok Anders, actually hindsight, I understand that some changes would be too complex and not inevitably judicious.
        For the strap, there is no fault, often time rendering is extremely slow and faster solution is tempting.
        This watch is beautiful and then I always preferred metal bracelet, it is still a personal note unimportant.

      • avatar Pete says:

        There is no fault, its nice to see a narrower strap option as well as the wider version. Not everyone likes a chunky strap. If I get 5mins I’ll take the segmentation out of my model and do a rendering in a leather texture to see what that looks like :D

        • avatar Anders S says:

          Hehe, I wasn’t being entirely serious, I must confess…=)

          As you say, options are nice, and in this case it’s only one opinion that’s expressed dislike (though that happens to be the opinion of the TF poster, which might give it some extra clout). Still, by the same token, making a narrow and a wide variant wouldn’t be a bad thing. I’ll see what I can do!

    • avatar Pete says:

      If the design was realised as an LCD watch then the segments that make up the “snakes” could be split down the middle. So the hours could be shown using both sets of segments giving a thicker line and the minutes could use just one set of segments showing a narrow line. :D

  6. avatar william says:

    The description of the concept reminds me the subject of my final exam in philosophy when I was a student for many many many years ago, enjoy:

    “Can we compare the time felt by the conscience with the one measured by the science”.

    • avatar Pete says:

      Yeah the preception of time is an interesting subject, hopefully it makes for an interesting watch :D

    • avatar Anders S says:

      I can’t help but wonder what your conclusion was…? =)

      • avatar William says:

        Don t remember very well, except that i named Jankelevitch when i tried to define what is the concept of time.
        It was something like this. Jankelevitch:when you re asked to give a definition of time, you can only use temporal words. What is the time? it s quite simple. The time is the succession of the before and the after. Ahhh! Succesion, before, after… Temporal words, obligatory perverted circle. I am part of the time, it s catching me back and it s swallowing me…
        And then fhis last part, leads to existentialism , death and conciousness and blah blah blah… Well, I passed my exam very well…

        • avatar Anders S says:

          Hehehe, glad to hear you were successful! =)
          Is it just me (and not to discredit your academic achievements), or is there a certain bull-manure component involved in all academic writing? I know I’ve definately been guilty of it…=)

  7. avatar xian says:

    This is very cool, especially with the offset links of the ss band. I want multiple LED colors included so I can change the two colors to keep it more interesting.

    • avatar Anders S says:

      Thanks for the support Xian! Pete and I discussed the possibility of making the LEDs multi-colour, so the wearer could choose colours to his or her heart’s content. It shouldn’t be technically impossible, and hopefully it wouldn’t be too expensive either. Otherwise I guess you’d just have to buy one of each colour variant…=)

    • avatar Pete says:

      The option to be able to cycle through different colour combinations would be uber cool. I imagine this would be easy on a LCD watch as it would be the backlight that changed colour, I dunno how easy it would be in LED as we have so many segments that can also cross each other. Fingers crossed such things are possible :D

      • avatar Anders S says:

        I believe there are RGB LEDs that give something like 16 million colours… I could be mistaken though.

  8. avatar Nev says:

    Looks great, as usual from you guys. The result of your coop is a great design that certainly should get made.
    It looks cool and is straight forward to read – with the ‘framing’, even the individual minutes easy.
    The strap choices are not as important as the watch face, for me. Both metal and leather seem to continue the themes from the face, which is great. I’m sure when I have to choose, I’ll find one I like. :)
    Good luck and 5*/Y.

  9. avatar Pete says:

    For all who wanted to see a wider leather strap version, please see Anders’s handy work here:

    • avatar Anders S says:

      Thanks for calling it ‘handy work’, I’d have gone with ‘hatchet job’ (due to the adjustment being basically deleting some polygons)…=) Seriously though, it’s nice that it turned out as good as it did considering how quick it was.

  10. avatar dzign555 says:

    Wow….I am gobsmacked!!! This is absolutely sensational, guys!!! I love the first chunky steel one!


    • avatar Pete says:

      Hi DZ, Im glad you likey sir! :D There no reason seconds couldnt also be shown as the rings are divided into 60 segments. So you could have a seconds snake maybe in a different colour. Also we have a border on the display so maybe that could be used for the seconds, the current second could just be a segment turned off, that way the look will be kept as is but display the seconds as well. There are lenty of possibilities. Cheers for the feedback and the vote sir! :D

    • avatar Anders S says:

      Thanks! =)

      I can’t add much to what Pete’s already said, we did briefly discuss displaying the seconds, but then it sort of got lost in the confusion…=)
      Like my partner in crime says, there are several options for it, and hopefully someone will have to make a decision whether or not to include seconds in the production version…=)

  11. avatar dzign555 says:

    Be awesome if you could fit seconds in there, somehow.

  12. avatar Samukun says:

    Ow yeah, cool comparison image! I thought the amplitude would change too. Maybe a further option :D

    • avatar Pete says:

      Hi Sam, if by amplitude you mean the size of steps in the “snake paths” the reason they are fairly consistent is I am showing either minimal activity or constant activity. To get a more random up and down path the user would have to go from little activity to very active and then back to little activity. So for example if a guy went for a 5min run, then rested for a few mins, then ran again and then rested his display would show more spikes in the path of the snakes. Hope that makes some kinda sense lol

  13. avatar Makkovik says:

    I like the idea & the overall look. I like the metal band. (I mention it because I rarely like that style)

    I like the lines in 2 colors. It’s easier to differentiate the hour & minute when they are swapped. Red/green is my favorite combo.

    “… could even start going backwards and display a counter-clockwise time display.” I would like that for the minute but it could be easier/more practical if applied to the hour, specially if the full group stay on (7/12 for 7:__ so it doesn’t matter where it start/end)

    “If colour-changing LEDs were used the colours of the snakes could also change to enhance the effect even more. Green to red via amber seems an intuitive transition.” Might be feasible but would require 6 colors & possibly make it too hard to understand.

    • avatar Pete says:

      Very fine feedback Makko as always. Fingers crossed TF choose to develop this concept further. I’m sure they could iron out the kinks. Cheers for the support sir! :D

  14. avatar Pete says:

    Time runs out for this one today. So just wanted to say a quick thanks to Anders for the coop, TF for posting it here and everyone who took the time to vote, comment and share. Cheers!

    Pete from the UK :D