As they say in Monty Python: “And now for something completely different.”
I love unique clocks. Not grandfather clocks, not cheap $10 alarm clocks, I am talking about hand-made small quantity digital clocks. Without any more filler text, here is my list of favorite clocks:
Nocrotec Sylvia Clock
By Dieter Wächter – $399
This clock is based on Vacuum Fluorescent Display tubes. They are a seven-segment based display like most led clocks but these are quite a bit different. For starters, this clock costs nearly 100x as much as your normal department store clock. The digits have a beautiful cyan color and the design of the tube allows you to see the inner workings. Image and brief description are from Nocrotec
– Digit height: 0.6″ (15mm)
– 12/24h mode
– Date in configuration DD.MM.YY or MM.DD.YY
– Leading zero suppression: The leading zero can be blanked or shown
– Cross fading: different modes to fade the digits from one number to the next
– Alarm clock
– Power down mode: tubes and supply can be totally switched off for a user programmed period in order to save energy and increase life expectancy of the tubes
– 12VDC input voltage
– Time is battery buffered when no line power is available; battery will last for more than 10 years
– User settings are always stored
– Case made of massive cherry wood and shiny black anodized aluminum as used for high-end audio equipment.
The Scope Clock – Cathode Corner
By David Forbes – $999
The second version of the Scope Clock is currently in production and will hopefully be on sale soon. The display of the clock is a CRT display originally intended for oscilloscopes. All of the display characters are drawn as vector images, unllike the AVR based Scop Clock kit sold by SparkFun Electronics.
In the updated version of the Scope Clock, the housing has been completely redesign to fit in a much smaller cylindrical housing. I can’t tell for sure but it appears to still be based on the 3RP1A CRT. The time is set via GPS. You need to program the UTC Offset and DST parameters but once it finds a GPS signal, this will be the most accurate clock in your house!
By François Azambourg for Ligne Roset – $2,500
I really wanted this clock. Bad. It is a little large – almost three feet in diameter but it is one of the most unique clocks I’ve seen in a while. It is made up of a honeycomb of about 300 frosted white LEDs. The image of the hands is made by turning off lights selectively.
By Jeff Thomas / Resonant Instruments LLC – (discontinued)
This is my clock. I am the proud owner of the last one made according to the creator himself. (It was also the cheapest one on this list…) The display in this clock is a Russian Nixie tube called an IN-18 / ИН-18. This is a really odd display. There are 10 filaments inside of the tube. Each one is shaped in the form of a number. The tube is then filled with neon gas and a little bit of mercury to prevent cathode poisoning. When ~180vdc is applied to one of the numbers, it glows.
Six of the IN-18 / ИН-18 tubes are used to display the time. Like the Scope Clock, the time is set via GPS but a built in clock keeps the clock going when a signal cannot be located. The tubes are some of the largest that were produced in quantity which adds a collector value to the clock. Since they do wear out, I have a second set stored in a hard Pelican case.
大人気LED CLOCK-DROP TYPE
By Karlsson (OEM unknown) – $150~$200 USD
I can’t find much information, at least not in English, about this clock. Up until about two weeks ago, all of the sites that sold this clock were in Japanese. Amazon JP sold this clock but most of that was in Japanese as well. However, in late October, I discovered that Giftmonger.com sells this clock! Unlike every other site, they do ship to the US and other countries outside of the EU.
The display is made up of square LED pixels. What makes this clock unique is that the digits scroll down. The new digit pushes the old one out of its place in a brief animated second. Below are a few photos of the clock from various sites.
By Daka Design – $50
This is about the only clock on this list that you can easily find. Amazon.com sells it. The concept is simple – the display is made up of pins that extend to form a pattern in the shape of the digits. It is like a practical version of the toy that you played with as a kid. (You know, the one that you used to make hand prints in…that that is about it….)
And because it reminds me a lot of this song, here is “Only” by Nine Inch Nails.