# Fractal Watch Design

Design submitted by Logan from the USA.

This watch is in the spirit of mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot, the father of fractals.  Although it is not a fractal, the concept of self-similarity is evident, as the big segmented digit is made from smaller segmented digits.

This watch is an always-on LCD watch that simultaneously displays the hours, minutes, and seconds.  It’s very easy to read: the overall shape is single segmented digit, standing for the hours, and this big digit is made from smaller segmented digits standing for the minutes (top two) and seconds (bottom two).  When the hours = 10, 11, or 12, the big digits shows 0,1, or 2 and the minutes and seconds switch to negative display.  The watch would have a variable-color LED backlight, red in the illustrations.

This is a watch for purists, to celebrate the segmented digit.  It’s exceptionally easy to read, always on, and still visually interesting.

## 16 thoughts on “Fractal Watch Design”

1. Patrick says:

Well, very interesting!

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2. Samukun says:

Awesome!!! Thats is so damn cool! I didn’t know one can do this with just simple digits 😀 It looks like a mouse came by and ate a bit of the 6 on the first image. 5* for this really creative idea!

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3. logan says:

Thanks, guys! @Sam, I tried several styles of segmented digits before landing on these to make the big digit look “full.” If you use traditional segmented digits or try to make them truly self-similar (exactly the same shape segments in the big and small digits), the big digit will seem too fragmented and be difficult to read. So, it can be done, and the end result is indeed simple, but the choice of digits is made with some care.

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• Samukun says:

I really hope this one gets far. It is such a cool idea wich hits the aesthetics center of my brain 😀 I understand the fractal idea. What a pity, you cannot put the seconds in the second digit of the minutes. It would be too small. But it would be very fractalliscious (that’s a word now). But anyway, good luck on this!

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• logan says:

Thanks, Sam! I thought about putting the seconds in the minutes, but couldn’t find a way to do it without making them too small or the big hours digit too “fat”. It’s good to hear that you like the aesthetics, thanks as usual for the feedback.

Incidentally, I did once submit a real fractal design, but it didn’t use digits and maybe Tokyoflash thought it was too difficult to read. I might try to rethink that one and put it in a more friendly form.

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4. Avatara says:

Yeah, quite like this! Straightforward to read but holds my interest at the same time. This would be nice in a long sharp case that matches the sharpness of the numerals maybe. Like the idea of LCD and i’ve always liked red & black too.

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5. Ryan says:

Nice, though 10/11/12 are pretty much impossible to read IMHO. Instead, I would suggest utilizing the bottom horizontal band for 10 and 12. Split it up so you could remove small sections so “10” and “12” are visible in the band.

Obviously wouldn’t work for 11, but 11’s easy to represent anyway. Just utilize the vertical bands on both sides, and remove the horizontal bands.

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6. logan says:

I’m curious, do other people agree with Ryan that 10, 11, and 12 are too difficult to read, with the minutes and seconds shown in negative? Or do you like those negative displays for 10, 11, and 12? Thanks everyone for your input (including Ryan).

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7. Lally says:

It’s too hard to read when > 9. Really, put in another vertical bar for it. It’s useful for 1/4th of the day.

Additionally, inverting the smaller numbers is a terrible, terrible, idea. It’s way too hard to read.

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• Lally says:

But with that said, it’s probably the most compelling watch I’ve seen on TokyoFlash in years.

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8. Samukun says:

I would prefer a 0 (10) II (11) and a mirrored \$ (12) instead of negative display. Negative was good for your other watch design in my opinion.

But everything is a matter of custom/practice. The main idea of relying on self similarity do divide a big digit into smaller ones is very strooong (the rating is over 4*) The rest is discussable details 🙂

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9. Aphosno says:

Look at the rating! 4.2 stars! I agree with those who prefer the symbols, not the negative display. As sam said, the base idea is great and that makes me rate you 5 stars! I know, the case comes from tokyoflash. A more edgy one would be nice.

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10. logan says:

@Lally @Sam @Aphosno thanks for the feedback about the negative part. It’s good to see you all agree on that (even if it’s different than my personal preference). Whether to use an extra vertical bar like Lally suggests or do what Sam says (which is what we also discussed for my Interlaced design), I don’t know, but at least there is some consensus.

It’s great to see the appreciation for this idea!

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11. said says:

THis idea is brillant Logan!!
I agree I m not too sure about 10 11 12 hours. Beside that it s all good!!

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12. Darren says:

I love the idea of putting the small numbers into segments of the large one! It must have taken a lot of tweaking to get the weights right.

But I agree that 10, 11, 12 are too hard to read (and distinguishing 12 from 2 could be a problem). Yes, you can decipher it, but the beauty of this design is how the hour jumps out at you.

How about this: include an extra vertical 1 for 10–12, then use it to display the date! Date digits lit for 1-9 and reversed (filled) for 10-12. The date digits would be thin, with chunky filler segments, so the leading 1 disappears when the date digits are lit. Would the date still be readable in reverse with the weights reduced?

While I’m at it, here’s a second idea. Let the surround and large-holes be LCD segments also, then reverse the whole display depending on whether it’s “day” (6am – 5:59pm) or “night” (6pm – 5:59am). It could be hard to make that look good though. Maybe just use a different colour backlighting to distinguish am/pm or day/night?

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• logan says:

Darren, thank you very much for your detailed feedback. I will think about your suggestions and might submit a variation on this idea. You are correct that a lot of tweaking went into getting the weights right, and I also examined different styles of segmented digits. It’s tough to change one aspect while keeping the rest in balance, but I’ll think about it more. Thanks!

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