A 0.80mm thin flexible wristwatch with an E Ink display housed in a single piece of stainless steel.
The Kickstarter campaign is over, but you can still pre-order a CST-01 on our site: centralstandardtiming.com
In a Category of Its Own
The CST-01 is assembled by laminating thin, flexible components into a 0.5mm pocket etched into a single piece of flexible stainless steel. In order to make the watch as thin and minimal as possible, there are no buttons or knobs on the watch itself. Charging and setting the time is done on the included base station, and for those outside the US who prefer a 24 hour time format, this is also user selectable from the base station.
The CST-01 weighs less than 5 pennies at 12 grams. Because of the comfort, weight and thinness, if we didn't want to keep looking at it, we would forget we were wearing it.
Everything about the design and engineering was thoroughly considered for its functional and aesthetic benefits. The CST-01 is the most minimal expression of a timepiece, It’s ‘time’ embedded in a band.
E Ink Screen
The concept of the watch was inspired by the qualities of E Ink segmented displays; ultra thinness, readability, ruggedness, flexibility, and low power. We developed our own segmented font designed for E Ink screens to make the numbers look great.
Powered by a Thinergy "Micro-Energy Cell"
The micro energy cell (MEC) that powers the watch is incredible in its own right. It can be recharged 10,000 times and lasts over 15 years. The watch can charge in 10 minutes and we expect the watch to be able to function for a month between charges. The MEC contains no toxic chemicals or heavy metals providing safety while being eco-friendly.
Driven by a Seiko Epson Microcontroller
The Seiko Epson System on a Chip (SoC) allows us to do everything we need to in a tiny package and sips power in order for us to achieve our desired battery life.
Assembled in the USA
What's Ahead of Us
What we are showing here are "Design Validation Units" (DVUs) that use real production methods and techniques. These are a result of a number of rounds of prototypes before them. Based on everything we have learned from these DVUs, we will be revising our designs to simplify manufacturing and increase the robustness of the manufactured version.
We'll be working on small modifications to everything from the stainless steel band, selection and refinement of adhesives, adjustments to the display module, refinement to the top mask in color and material choice and simplification of flexible circuits. The revisions we plan on doing will tackle key issues like making the product as waterproof as possible, optimizing scratch resistance, and ensuring that every product that comes off the line stands up to a high standard of quality. The charger will be revised to move from a 3d printed process to injection molded parts. This is something we have years of experience doing for a number of products that have come to market.
We are in discussions with several potential assembly partners, but we need to have final numbers for our initial manufacturing run before those talks can continue. We were originally interested in using Fulfillment by Amazon. After talking at CES with other Kickstarter veterans, they mentioned that shipwire.com was an interesting route for fulfillment as well. We will look into a number of fulfillment services to determine the best one for our needs.
Strength of the components under bending:
We had a few requests to put the components through the paces to prove that they are flexible:
The Nando Rossi Edition:
The Rose Gold Edition:
For more information about the Nando Rossi and Rose Gold editions, please see Update #6 under the updates tab at the top of the page.
Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
We have been able to make working prototypes, but we will face more challenges as the design evolves for manufacturing. We will be lifecycle testing our prototypes in order to make sure that the watch can withstand daily abuse. As we come to understand more about manufacturing and durability, we may need to change some of the materials we are using. Currently we are looking into different materials for front mask materials that will achieve a more even surface and be more scratch resistant. This may result in a final watch that has slightly different dimensions compared to what our prototype has proven. Even with a material change we are confident we will be able to keep the thickness below 1mm. We are currently still refining the firmware that runs on the watch. With code that has not been fully optimized to preserve battery life, the measured current draw extrapolates to a battery life of 45 days. We have prototypes running currently to fully test the final battery life. The batteries can not be discharged past a certain point or they risk being damaged. We are able to sense this and put the watch into an ultra-low power sleep state that will allow sufficient time to put the watch on its charger. We will need to further study how long the watch will last in this state. A way to fully disconnect the battery and reconnect it may be necessary.
The display used on the watch is a "segmented" SURF E Ink screen which differs from a pixel-based display found on e-readers. The numbers are able to be shown by activating a number of segments in a custom segmented font we designed specifically for this product. Of the 64 segments our hardware can drive, we use 63 of them to show the numbers. This was done to achieve the unique look of the numbers as opposed to a conventional digital "7-segment" display seen on most older digital watches. Because of this and because we are dedicated to releasing the watch as close as possible to the form promised in our campaign, we will not be adding functionality. This single-purpose is what led us to our quote in our video: "It's about time."
For those interested in what we mean by "segmented", the segments of the watch look like this:
We turn on and off different combinations of those segments to display the time.
Our band can be formed in a number of different sizes quite easily. Currently we are planning on releasing 3 sizes. There is a size chart in the updates where you can print out paper bands and test to see which size will likely be for you. Click on the "updates" link at the top of the page for more information.
The watch will be able to withstand normal usage, but was not intended to be a "sports watch" or "dive watch". Because of the laminated design, we expect our water resistance to be quite good because there is not a case for water to get into, but we need to run more tests as we settle on the final adhesives we use before being able to have quantified results. We will however ensure that it will not be impacted by normal usage including a receiving splash of water or getting caught in a rainstorm. We have talked with some nano-coating companies about applying a coating that will repel water and oil which will further increase protection. As we get closer to our manufactured product, we will provide updates on how waterproof it can be.
The base station connects with a standard micro-USB cable that will be included. This will plug into any standard USB port.
The time is set by pressing and turning the knob on top of the included base station.
After wearing this for a while we can say that reading at night has not been an issue. The numbers are large and display is very high contrast. Most people would need to be in almost pitch dark to have trouble with reading it. Reading it in dimly lit places is not an issue. We have tested the watches outside at night (in a city atmosphere), and in dimly lit restaurants/bars and have had no issues. We will bring them to the movies with us next time we go and will report back.
The current design uses Lexan brand polycarbonate which is some of the strongest plastic you can get (the same stuff used for bullet proof glass). This is what cell phone screens were made of before the iPhone came out. Currently the ability for it to scratch is similar. The color is "back painted" on the inside of the plastic, so the paint will not wear off or chip. We are researching hard protective nano-coatings, matte finishes or both to improve the wear-resistance. We are committed to making the CST-01 as high-quality as possible and aim for it to last for many years.
The display is segmented and therefore the font is built into the display, meaning that it cannot be changed or rotated in software. Because the numbers are so big we have actually found ourselves looking at the time differently. We no longer need to bring the watch up close to our faces, but just glance down at our wrists. In that use case it is actually in a better orientation for reading.
If we do not do a full refresh or "flash" periodically, segments may not have switched from black to white completely, and can still be seen faintly as a "ghosted" segment. We are experimenting with doing a full refresh only every hour or 15 minutes in order to keep the display looking good, but also saving battery life and being less distracting. There is updated video of non-flashing display updates under the Updates tab in "Update #7"
The display is segmented and therefore the font is built into the display, meaning that it cannot be changed or rotated in software. Of the 64 segments our hardware can drive, we use 63 of them to show the numbers. This was done to achieve the unique look of the numbers as opposed to a conventional digital "7-segment" display seen on most older digital watches.
For those interested in what we mean by "segmented", the segments of the watch look like this:
There is a small percentage of nickel in the stainless alloy (8% in our current bands). Fortunately, the property of stainless steel to form its chromium oxide passivation layer (the layer that keeps it from rusting) also protects skin from nickel release. Because of this layer, the 8% Nickel will behave as <0.1% nickel as far as your skin is concerned. We want to make sure that our watch is safe to wear and will be running tests to make sure it will on par with or above the level of safety as other trusted watches currently in daily usage.
If you are not allergic to stainless steel than you should be OK with the watch.
Our PVD supplier has told us that there is not a white PVD coating we can get.
Sure does. This option is also set from the base station.
You can back the watch on Kickstarter and we will ship you the watch as a reward when we ship. We expect to ship in September.
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