The 720 Watch (Canceled)
The 720 Watch (Canceled)
A watch unlike any other. A wearable piece of functional art. The nexus of technology, photography and chronology.
A watch unlike any other. A wearable piece of functional art. The nexus of technology, photography and chronology. Read more
A Watch With a Story to Tell
The 720 Watch is an electronic watch in a sleek, modern watch housing that uses a small color LCD screen to display the time. Instead of a traditional single watch face (analog or digital), the user sees a minute-to-minute display of the time as a succession of 720 clock faces, one for each minute of a 12-hour day or night.
WHAT YOU GET
- The 720 Watch
- Smooth, Durable Black Band
- Stylish Storage Case
- Built-in Rechargeable Battery
- USB Charging Cable
- The watch with hundreds of faces (to be exact, 720 of them...how cool is that?)
- One easy tap turns the display on to the current minute watch face.
- Backlit LCD screen stays on for a predetermined (user-defined) amount of time before returning to sleep mode.
- Simple 3-button interface—you probably won't even need to read the instructions!
The 720 Watch—The Watch of Watches
Sample Clock-Face Images
Where We Were
It all started in 2003. Dorron got the idea of taking photos that could be used to tell time, and then displaying them in the form of a clock. The next thing he knew, he was spending all of his spare time working on the Clock Project. Completing the three concepts that make up the Clock Project took Dorron many years. Sometimes, he worked on it exclusively, and other times he would go many months without taking a single photo.
Fast-forward to 2012. The project was pretty much finished, but Dorron didn't quite know where to go with it. His ultimate goal had always been to have the “clocks” displayed in some sort of museum installation (along with other time-related conceptual pieces) but nothing was happening. Then Dorron got a random phone call from Ron, who had Googled around and come across the Clock Project website. For years, Ron had been playing with the idea of making an electronic watch that could display photos of different watch faces, and he was curious about Dorron’s images. Ron was also aware of digital watches that were already on the market that could store and display photos. When Dorron agreed to partner with Ron and supply the clock photos, The 720 Watch was born.
Where We Are
We decided that in order to make the art-watch a reality, it would be best to find an existing product and modify it to suit our needs. This turned out to be harder than we thought. Several companies in Asia make LCD watches that can display user-loaded images; the difficulty was finding one that not only offered a suitable, high-quality watch, but also had the engineering capability to make the watch screen do what we needed it to do.
After scouring global commerce sites like alibaba.com to no avail, Ron was able to reconnect with a contact in Taiwan that he'd worked with on a previous project. He enlisted this person to work as a broker and handle the technical aspects of designing and programming a circuit board, as well as dealing with other details, like battery, power usage and functionality. (It didn't hurt that Dorron is also an engineer.)
With the logistical details sorted out, we began discussing and developing the technical specs for The 720 Watch—stuff like the “tap to activate” function, the demo mode, and exactly how the menu items would behave. (See Appendix below for our latest Tech Specs document.)
Where We're Going
Of course, there's still the issue of paying for all of this. Up until now, the broker and the developers have all been working on a contingency basis; when the watch gets produced, they will get a small percentage of the manufacturing costs. The broker has also identified a manufacturer, but there is the matter of meeting minimum order requirements. Before we can give the go-ahead to have the limited first edition made, we need to gauge the demand. Kickstarter just seemed like the ideal vehicle to get this concept off the ground (and onto your wrist).
One of the benefits of using existing technology and design and merely modifying the “insides” is that we can keep costs to a minimum. After taking manufacturing, design and coding costs into account, then factoring in transportation, fulfillment and other supply chain costs, we determined that we could offer The 720 Watch for less than $50 (a great price for such a unique timepiece).
We were able to get two samples of the watch housing (and screen) from the supplier, but these samples don't contain any of the circuitry, memory or coding required to function like watches. (These samples are really just photo viewers at this stage.) We were, however, able to load about 50 of the 720 clock images into the watches and view them, but without any of the correct "guts" there's no way to display each image at the correct time. To further complicate matters, when you take a photo of a screen image, the resulting picture never looks quite right. (It has something to do with the shutter speed and the refresh rate.) While the high-resolution LCD screen of The 720 Watch is 128ppi (pixels per inch), taking a photo or video of the watch with an image on the screen would make it appear like degraded monochrome. That would both be misleading and make the images appear to be much lower quality than they will be in the manufactured watch. Not wanting to sell the image quality short, we simulated the images on the watch in the video.
When Art Gets Functional
Any watch tells time. The question is, how interesting is the time being told, and what is the story behind it?
Take a California-based artist/photographer/engineer who—over many years—took photographs of clock faces at different locations and times all over the U.S. (and world); introduce him to a New York-based artist/product developer with experience bringing creative projects to life; add a little time; and the result is a conversation (time) piece.
The Clock Project
It started out as an idea, morphed into a hobby and ultimately ended up a passion, maybe even an obsession. Over a seven-year period Dorron Margalit took more than 30,000 photographs with a singular vision in mind…clocks. Well, three styles of “clocks” to be specific: angles (analog), the typography and design of street addresses (digital) and installed clocks (analog). The 720 Watch is a manifestation of the third concept and attempts to highlight the concept that a clock only has a use, meaning or function when actually viewed, and viewed at the appropriate time—assuming the clock is correct. Clocks tell time; that's the whole point, and therefore taking a photo of a clock face for the sake of art (or any other purpose) pretty much negates the clock’s intrinsic value.
But when those images of clock faces are reassembled and are displayed at the exact minute they become relevant, their original use, and their reason for existence in the first place, is restored.
A brief description/explanation of all three concepts of Dorron’s Clock Project can be found at www.theclockproject.com.
Dorron and Ron
Dorron Margalit graduated many moons ago with a degree in industrial engineering, after which he worked as an efficiency consultant and then as an industrial engineer for Disney. In 2003, he got the spark of an idea that would become the basis of the Clock Project and started working on it almost every available minute. He then took a professional detour and worked for a number of years as a creative copywriter in the advertising field (all the while taking many, many photographs). Along the way, he also got married and had a child. Familial, geographic and economic conditions resulted in a return to the more stable world of engineering. But once an artist, always an artist. The difficulty is having your vision realized.
Enter Ron Dubren. Ron began actively pursuing his interest in art when he was in graduate school at NYU, where he received his PhD in clinical psychology. He focused on the visual arts, first as a photographer and then as an early explorer in video art. His video works were produced at Channel 13's Experimental TV Lab, and as an artist-in-residence at Syracuse University. One of them—Paint—was chosen to appear in the first video art exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art.
Aside from his current various art endeavors (see art and art books), Ron has had a long career as a toy and game inventor, designer, and product developer (see toys and games). He also co-invented Tickle Me Elmo, his only claim to 15 minutes of fame.
One Idea, Two Coasts
Ron has been exploring time in various ways, including designing a series of proposed wall clocks (Time Pieces) and creating Ten After Ten, a video of 60 different clock faces showing the same time playing for a single minute. Ron had been thinking about a project that would require 720 different watch face images, each showing a different minute of the day, to use in an electronic watch with an LCD display. In researching this, he discovered Dorron’s clock photos, which led to a serendipitous—and hopefully fruitful—artistic collaboration.
Been There, Done That (But Not Quite Like This)
A clock is an interesting subject for an artist. Essentially, the same object has been continually reimagined by multitudes of clock designers through the centuries. This results in a fascinating range and variety of graphic images. Beyond this more pure artistic pursuit, the clock also serves a utilitarian purpose. The designer’s originality cannot exceed this required functionality.
Dorron’s original photos consist of a collection of clocks that are found in public places. Such clocks, because they must be viewed at a distance, are much larger than clocks found in the home. In The 720 Watch, these relatively gigantic clock faces are scaled to watch-face size. When does a clock face become a watch face? Are they the same? Is it merely a matter of scale and size?
This project is timely, as another artist—Christian Marclay—has created The Clock, a 24-hour real-time video art installation using film and video segments that show the time as part of the shot. Marclay designed his clock to be viewed within the context of an installation at the exact time of day. As such, it is a pure fine art project with no real intention of being used in the utilitarian way watches and clocks are normally used. We are hoping the interest generated by that project cross-pollinates with our project, which uses clock faces in a uniquely different, but utilitarian way.
Prototype watch in Demo Mode (with random clock times)
(Please note that the actual watch screens are sharp and vibrant. We could not figure out how to make these demo videos without the screens looking washed out and generally crappy.)
NOTES: Production, Fulfillment and Timeline
As mentioned above, we decided to use the services of an experienced broker that Ron had used in the past on previous projects. Even though he takes a percentage of the manufacturing costs, he has been invaluable in sourcing an OEM watch manufacturer in mainland China. (The broker is based in Taipei.) Apart from the fact that he has worked with Ron (and other American developers) before, he's bilingual, and has in-house engineering/coding support. He was instrumental in enabling us to take the manufacturer's existing product, and after a number of phone and Skype sessions where we explained the new functionalities, he was able to modify and re-engineer the existing circuit board to do what we wanted the watch to do.
Major modifications to the existing watch include:
- Battery - We required a larger battery capacity than the OEM battery.
- Tap sensor - We added what's technically a single axis accelerometer. This is a new feature.
- Memory - The original watches could only hold about 50 images, and we need ours to hold 720.
- Logic chip - With the new items above, we needed a new printed circuit board (with new control chips) to control the new watch functions. (Essentially, the watch needs to identify the on-board time when the watch is tapped/activated, and then select the correct corresponding image to display.)
We have included some of our working diagrams and a Bill of Materials in the Appendix
- The manufacturer will deliver FOB Shenzhen.
- Freight and shipping from China will be handled by an experienced Tier-1 handler. We are currently in communication with UPS Supply Chain Solutions, Bender International and MAPCargo Global Logistics. We intend for the freight handler to also handle all customs and other import logistics. Freight will be LTC (Less Than Container), which is slightly slower, but much cheaper than carton freight. Air is not an option due to the batteries (it's also extremely expense).
- Once on U.S. soil (Port of L.A. or Port of Long Beach), the product will be shipped to a distribution center for fulfillment. Kenco Management Services will most likely handle this, but we will determine that at a later stage.
- Ron and/or Dorron will handle Premium Rewards fulfillment.
- All product will be fully insured at all points in the supply chain at replacement value. In other words, if the container falls off the boat, we get paid in full and we produce another run to send to our backers.
The timeline is predicted to be as follows:
- T-40 days = Kickstarter launch
- T = Project successfully funded
- T+5 days (OR at whatever point the project reaches threshold) = Give go-ahead for production of custom functional testing units
- T+65 (5+60) days = Functioning PCB creation and testing complete. This is a conservative estimate and allows for any issues to be resolved.
- T+125 (65+60) days = Manufacturing production run complete. (We believe this is also a conservative estimate.)
- T+155 (125+30) days = product arrives in California
- T+160 (155+5) days = product delivered to backers
- So, assuming we launch in early May, backers should expect to receive their watches by November.
Risks and challenges
We are confident that our supplier will create precisely what we are asking for. We have built into our contract with them the testing of a final fully functional prototype before the production run begins. In our estimation the only risk is a delay in production if any unforeseen coding or PCB issues arise.
Supply Chain and Logistics:
We intend to fully insure the cargo from the factory to our distribution point in the U.S. If anything happens to the cargo while in transit, we will make a claim and produce another run. In this instance, the watches will obviously ship later than expected. We will definitely let all of our backers know if this happens.
- (40 days)