The watch Phenomenon using cubist time.

Design submitted by Sam from Germany.

Sam says: In search for a minimalistic analog watch idea I took inspiration from older concepts of mine and combined them for Phenomenon.

The decision to use a square for the display instead of a circle creates an unconventional looking analog watch. Using a minimalistically structured display adds to the unusual look. There is a bright part of the display. The start of it represents the hour. The end represents the minute. That’s it already. 22 times a day, the bright area has zero size and can’t be read for some seconds. That’s part of the deal here.

The watch geometry is kept minimalistic too but not to the max. The two parts of the case are flat cuboids. The lower one holds the straps and carries the buttons for setting the watch and EL-backlight.

I have a quartz movement analog watch which is 6mm narrow, so I think the Phenomenon could be too.

This watch is behaving pretty silently in terms of appearance but it finds a significant place among the analog watches.

43 thoughts on “The watch Phenomenon using cubist time.

  1. Phenomenal! I am really enjoying the clean minimal good looks of this watch. The black space is used to dramatic effect : wrist-art for sure.

    Now, I need your help to explain the construction of the discs/hands. I have not had my morning coffee yet, so I am struggling to work out how the dark/light areas are created from what i assume must be 2 discs. You have me flummoxed!


    • Flummoxidation complete! I made a wall clock before, to see if it works at all. Maybe the images are a tad idealistic but reality looks good too. I wonder if someone will guess how it works. I’d like to keep the illusion for a while πŸ˜‰

      Thank you for the comment Toky! I’m sure, sober minimalism isn’t for the many but diversion is fun hehe.


      • I am defeated! I cannot work it out – ha ha
        The closest I could manage was 2 semi-circle discs of dark colour revealing a bright background – but this only works for 30 mins not a full hour.


      • Yes half circles would work for roughly 32 minutes and 43 seconds. If it’s really this mysterious, I might keep the legend as long as possible. At least officially πŸ˜‰


  2. Looks nice Sam! Very minimal looking design, maybe a touch too minimal to get my inner child overly excited. That said it’s made more interesting by the fact you achieved the time telling with analogue. I would love to know how it works too (if it’s not a trade secret? πŸ˜‰ ) for me I’d like a bit more more case detail. Minor point tho so 5/Y


    • Thankies Pete! Yeah minimalism tends to go boring. Had to show the world anyway though haha. When I cought myself thinking about making the watch more detailed just because it was too clean, I saw that adding something would only be for the purpose of making the watch more spectacular than it actually is, so I gave that up. Wow what a phrase *rereads* yupp ^^


  3. Like the saying goes; perfection is not achieved when there’s nothing left to add, but when there’s nothing left to take away.

    Now, misunderstand me correctly, I wouldn’t go so far as to actually call this perfect, but it’s a brilliant example of minimalism.

    Also, I would not call it boring, as I’m busy trying to figure out how it’s put together (not figured it out yet though)… Great work Sam, and though you might not need it: good luck!


    • Let me just get a couple of things straight (To give me a chance of figuring it out, because if I’m thinking right then it wouldn’t work…)

      The beginning, going clockwise, of the bright segment ALWAYS denotes the hour, according to your description?

      If that’s true then the display would need to switch from all bright to all dark the moment the minute hand overtakes the hour hand, which is the thing that’s doing my head in…

      The display is all mechanical (no backlight, LCD, LED or such), correct?


    • The adding/take away saying was the exact one that came in my mind when I wrote to Pete hehe.

      Oh I do need luck too. The unusual-watch-industry is a moody lady πŸ˜‰ Thanks a bunch sir!

      Yes ALWAYS Anders. Now I’m getting excitied as you try to figure it out. WhenI imagine this as a stranger, it’s pretty phenomenal haha. The display is purely mechanical. I would love backlight for the basement times.


      • She may be moody, but she seems to smile at you fairly often. Of course, you’re pretty good at giving her reason to smile…

        Hmmm, you’re getting excited and I’m getting frustrated…=) I’m sure the solution is relatively simple, and I’ll murmur an ‘ahh’ when I see it (I hope I will at some point). I’ll try to solve it, and come back when/if I do…
        One little idea I keep coming back to is, in a word, ‘helical’…


      • ;D

        Maybe you’ll find out when you disassemble the watch, if Tokyoflash make it. Woah that would be neat hehe. It’s soo simple, you will scream aaaaahhhh

        Helical… you know, sometimes I hear words that create thoughts in my mind that develop into a watch. Helical ist very inspiring ^^ I wonder what concept you will come up with…


      • Well, it hurts but I have to confess; I can’t make heads nor tails of it…=7
        I don’t see how you can make it work as you describe with just discs and a standard analogue movement. I can get close, but not all the way there; making the beginning of the light and dark segment alternate in denoting the hour (e.g. even hours light, odd hours dark), that’s certainly doable.

        If I did buy it (and this is a watch I’d seriously consider getting for myself) I wouldn’t take a screwdriver to it…=)
        I have another suggestion; Pete’s got my email address. If you’d be kind enough to put my fevered intellect to rest you’re very welcome to send a description of the solution. If you’d rather keep it to yourself that’s fine of course, only my brain might overheat with the irritation, but that’s my problem…=)


      • By the way, I’m right with you on the issue of inspirational words… If nothing else I’ve at least got a couple of possible ideas out of this little exercise. =)


  4. Brilliant Sam, tho I haven’t figured out how you’d make it mechanically. Is the width of the center cuboid 4x that of the display track width? I like the proportions you choose.


    • Thank you Chris! Oh the little secrecy at the beginning could be a nice marketing effect… GOOD! The proportions are 2 for the border, 1 for the display and 4 (2×2) for the center. The case is so minimalistic, you can almost see these numbers. Number fun is… fun πŸ™‚


  5. Pretty cool, abit on the bulky side for me but still it’s a nice looking piece.

    I’m betting it’s read by reading the illuminated section clockwise starting with the hour and then upon reaching the end of the illuminated section, the minutes.

    For eg…pink second from the bottom would be 7:43 (ish)??


    • I see the bulky part πŸ˜‰ I really wanted to not make it round, so the corners do their part for the bulkiness. The thickness could be 7mm max. Anything below is highly welcome. Actually it’s subtle proportion decisions which I still have to learn. If the strap would be wider and the invisible wrist bigger, the case would look smaller and more elegant. I try to balance between actual measurements and what looks good… but at a certain point I just want to finish hehe. On the other side, chamfering some edges for a more fluent design would work, but harm the the minimalism. Decisions decisions…

      You bet right and the time you guessed is close to what I guessed. So we’re 1 minute apart ^^

      Thank you for the comment Justin!


      • I understand, it’s a tricky balancing act between style and substance that sometimes doesn’t leave enough room for both. I like it though, don’t see my qualm about the bullies being a negative as such, merely a pointer. I’d still buy it if it was made.


  6. A very polished design, as usual, Sam.
    Looks good, but I always struggle when I can’t accurately read the time. Looks like a weekend watch for me πŸ™‚
    I don’t think the case looks bulky, but there’s a lot of space around the actual time-telling part – I guess that was intentional. I would have liked the display to have taken more of the face, but that’s a minor detail.
    Not in the same league as some of your other watches, but still great, so 5y from me.


    • Thank you for the insight Nev and for the support!!

      Yep, no indicators this time. Weekend-watch sounds like a proper watch category – accepted!! If you want to make a square analog watch and keep the illusion of having nothing round there, there has to be a minimum border aound the display. I scaled this border up to be 1/5 of the whole display due to number addiction hehe. [Ooh maybe this is already a hint about how the watch works… who knows xD]


  7. I love the overall look. Very modern. I love that it’s a square & not a circle. (a circle would have been too boring & possibly made me pass πŸ™‚ )

    I like that it’s an analog movement. My 1st impression was that it was 60 LED’s. It could also have been colored e-paper, if the tech allow it, or LCD. How an analog movement would work is a bit more mysterious & add too the pleasure.

    I have the impression that it would require more than 2 disks… like 3-4 or 60 (each having 1/60 in dark or light)

    Analog without markers are bad for me (specially on square/rectangle displays) but markers here would be bad.

    I’d buy one.


    • Oh yeah epaper… that would work too… but the price would be too high for the actual ability of the display. Rorschach’s display looks different all the time, here it’s basically the same all the time. LEDs would leave gaps and can’t be this small I think… while still being affordable. LCD would leave gaps in either the dark or the bright part of the display.

      Hmhm, a round watch would’ve been yawny. No circles this time *raises fist towards sky*

      More than two disks would require non-traditional movement. Luckily this watch would work with a normal movement. The wallclock I made shows it (without hinting at how it does).

      The lack of markers is quite a decision maker I guess, next to the unspectacular (yet artsy) look. I’m glad you see that markers mustn’t be there. The LED or LCD gaps could work as marker… so the “flaw” of the technology would serve a purpose.

      Thank you for the insight and the hypothetical purchase πŸ™‚


      • You made a real/working clock! When I saw it on facebook, I thought that it was only a rendering.

        I’d buy 1. Green display instead of red (to match my wall color) & maybe black instead of white.

        Clock vs Watch remind me of Biegert & Funk QLOCKTWO watch that was remade as clocks in various sizes
        & “A Million Times” clock design.
        They’re all multiple small 2 hands clocks synchronized to give the time as a big picture. The more clocks, the bigger the result is.

        I mean: not all watches can be converted to a nice clock or clock to watch.


      • Yeah, if it’s a rendering you can say “well it’s fiction so of course it works” but as a real image it’s getting fantastic. Very nice idea letting the color match up with the wall. It’s the same as with watches. It’S more than just functionality, you can make a stylish addition to your life.

        Oh I’ve seen these wall clocks. Outstanding work. The million Times 24 would be nice for my living room hehe. Or the Clock Clock.

        We’ve seen some clock concepts on here. That could be another product line for Toky. The advantage: people who are shy about extreme watches might get a clock to be extreme at home xD The urge of buying more than one is bigger compared to watches because you actually “need” one watch, but as for clocks, you could put one in each room. Maybe the production costs are cheaper because the technology doens’t have to be so small. Only advantages!


      • You may know Kickstarter. I went to 1 of their seminar & found out that you need to send a working prototype to them to get a project approved. You can send a working clock & the project can be to downsize it to a watch. I saw a few project that did that.


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