Archive for March, 2010

Nightly News: Alarm Clock Grades Your Sleep Quality


A lot of us underestimate just how important a good night’s sleep is. Without the seven to eight hours of nightly shuteye that experts recommend, our cognitive function decreases rapidly. What’s more, sleep deprivation has even been linked to type 2 diabetes and coronary artery calcification. These are pretty major consequences for skipping sleep, something that most people see as harmless. The Zeo alarm clock aims to keep people healthy by giving a daily report on how well the user sleeps.



The main premise of the clock is that it tracks how much time is spent in each stage of sleep. The user wears a thin headband all night which conveys information about their sleep cycles to the clock. In the morning, the data is displayed on the clock unit, including a unique “sleep score.” The clock even has an option that will analyze the user’s optimum waking point, waking them up just when they will be the least groggy.


What’s even cooler about the Zeo is that you can upload the data from the clock unit to the company’s “sleep coaching” website. If you pay for personal sleep coaching, you’ll receive personalized information on how your activities, diet and sleep environment are affecting your nightly Zs. While it won’t help you fall asleep or stay asleep, using the Zeo may just help you identify your particular sleep problems.

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Soil-Powered Alarm Clock Gets Your Bambooty Out of Bed


Just when we think that nothing new can be done with clocks, someone else makes a wicked cool new one that makes us stand up and pay attention. This awesome bamboo soil clock comes to us from Dutch designer Marieke Staps, and all it asks for from you is two potted plants and some moisture. The designer says that the biological processes in the soil produce enough bacteria to power the clock. We have to wonder if it’s the plants providing these processes, or the dirt itself. Because we can think of some people who would kill those plants within days, but watering pots of dirt would probably be possible. Regardless, Inhabitat (which sells the clock in their store) says that you can use any two plants to provide electricity for this super-cool clock.


The clock itself, excluding the electrodes and wires, is made of bamboo, which is an extremely renewable, sustainable material. And unlike some science-project-type timepieces (we’re looking at you, potato clock), this one is actually quite attractive. You just push the zinc and copper electrodes down into the dirt of your two potted plants and make sure to keep those plants watered. Just don’t use vegetables or herbs: the zinc electrode degrades into the dirt in time and you don’t want that coming up in your tarragon.

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Word to Your Wall Clock: Letters Spell Out the Time


Aren’t you tired of all of those numbers cluttering up your clock’s face? Then it’s about time you got the Qlocktwo by Biegert & Funk, because it’s got none of that nonsense. It spells out the time in clear, plain English…or German, if you prefer. The sleek acrylic face features lines of letters that spell out the time in five-minute increments, and four dots in the corners let you know exactly what time it is, down to the minute.

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At 885 Euro ,the clock, handmade in Germany, comes with some pretty awesome features like a time-signal receiver so you never have to set it, and automatic daylight saving time adjustments. You can choose between several colors to match the rest of your room. It even senses ambient light and adjusts itself accordingly. The design is very cool and, we must admit, pretty original.

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Early German watch and watch movement, 16th century.


The earliest known watches were made in Germany at the beginning of the 16th century. They were scaled-down versions of the slightly earlier table-clocks and were made wholly of iron. An example of the movement of one of these watches is shown on the left and dates from the first half of the 16th century. The watch on the right has an outer ring of dial figures running from I to XII and an inner ring that runs from 13 to 24. Although made in Germany, it was intended for use in Italy where a 24-hour system of of hour-reckoning was employed until the late 17th century. This watch would have been worn suspended from a cord slung around the wearer’s neck.

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It’s About Time: Multifunctional Antique Pocket Sundials


Most of us tell time these days by looking at a watch strapped to a wrist or by pulling a cell phone out of a pocket. But the timepieces from centuries ago were much more interesting. The one above is from 16th century Germany and now resides in the Beyer Watch and Clock Museum in Zurich. It’s a multifunctional piece that included a gunpowder flask, compass and sundial. The rosewood flask is decorated with ornaments of brass and bone, and at the top is the bone funnel used to insert the gunpowder. Beneath the small lid in the center of the piece is a sundial; a string gnomon is exposed by opening the lid and can tell the hours from 6 am to 6 pm.


This gold-plated brass sundial was made in the same time period as the above multifunctional pocket sundial, but it’s missing the compass that used to be part of its design. It was excavated in 1997 at the former site of the Mission de Santa Cruz San Saba in Texas. The mission was destroyed by attacking Native Americans in 1758, but the sundial was made 177 years prior, making it a valuable heirloom even then. Why it was left behind and not taken as a prize is a mystery, but it’s lucky for us that the fascinating gadget was left behind for future generations to admire and study.

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Thierry Oulevay Presents the Jean Dunand Tourbillon Orbital & Shabaka: Prepare To Be Amazed

As promised, we are now presenting you with a collection of timepieces that rise above what you see in your daily lives.  In fact, we’d be surprised if you had ever seen or even heard of the watches in the video below, but after seeing them, we can assure you you’ll have some new grail pieces.

Jean Dunand is a six year old company that produces unique pieces at the highest levels of haute horlogerie.  We don’t mean unique in the superlative sense, we mean it in the literal sense.  In fact, not one timepiece Jean Dunand produces is like any other. It was founded by horological entrepreneur Thierry Oulevay and Master watchmaker Christophe Claret (who you may remember is 1/3 of the genius behind The Maitres du Temps Chapter One), and they have been producing world-firsts ever since.

The first is the Tourbillon Orbital, which features an extraordinary one-minute flying tourbillon that orbits the dial once per hour on a patented revolving movement, a novel power reserve indicator in the case band and moon phase on the case back.  How impressive of a timepiece is this?

Well, it took Christophe Claret two years to solve the challenge of winding and setting a constantly rotating movement and mainspring barrel.  Eventually, he decided to do it via an innovative folding key set vertically into the movement’s central axis that both winds the mainspring and sets the time.  Think about that.


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