Russian Polar Expedition watch photo, 1969


Here's a beautiful, super-hi-rez, freely usable photo of a 1969 Russian Polar Expedition watch -- an absolutely droolworthy bit of horological sweetness. (Click to embiggen)

Russian Polar Expedition watch from 1969 - produced by Raketa [Sosoev/Wikimedia Commons]

(Thanks, Jim!)

Wrist-straps for pocket-watches


Polish leatherworker MK makes some very nice wrist-straps for pocket-watches and car-watches. He's not the only one making these, but I find them particularly handsome, and rather nice retro-modern take on the massive wristwatch phenomenon.

Wristbands for pocket watches. (Thanks, Nic!)

Shooped (?) (but awesome) watch gizzard


Unknown source, unknown provenance, and it's gotta be a shoop, but what a goddamned thing this would be, were it real.

How french watch works (Thanks, Ben!)

Elaborate electromechanical clock built around a nutcracker

When John Hilgenberg got a nutcracker for Christmas, he decided to make it the centerpiece of a huge, delightful rubegoldbergian clock that strikes every four hours, using a combination of eight bells and a complex arrangement to motors and gears.

John Hilgenberg’s Quarterdeck Striker

Artist arrested at Oakland airport for wearing ornate watch

Geoffrey McGann, a southern California artist, was arrested at Oakland airport for wearing an assemblage sculpture/watch he'd made. The TSA were also worried because he had a lot of insoles in his shoes. He was eventually released on $150,000 bail.

OAKLAND, Calif. -- A Southern California man was arrested at Oakland International Airport after security officers found him wearing an unusual watch they said could be used to make a timing device for a bomb, authorities said Friday... McGann told Transportation Security Administration officers that he's an artist and the watch is art, Nelson said.

Geoffrey McGann, Man With Strange Watch, Arrested At Oakland Airport [AP] (Thanks to everyone who suggested this!)

Great wristwatches of the 1980s


On Retronaut, David Orman has gathered up a magnificent collection of digital watches from the 1980s, which was truly the last spasm of the heroic age of digital horology.

1980s: Watches

Clocks, backward in time


Today's the day when Americans, Canadians, and others across the pond turn their clocks back (we in the UK beat you to it by a week). In honor of that momentous occasion, the Vintage Ads LJ group has a fine collection of clock ads from the past. Here are two of the best, found by nolock_boston: Telechron, GE Computer Radio (which I covet with the intensity of a thousand suns).

Skull watch, 1780


Hayden sez, "A good one for Halloween - this skull-shaped memento mori clock is historically important and even a little spooky today. The Art of Mourning site is all about death and love in jewelry and art, so there are many examples of the symbols of death throughout history."

Watches and clocks with the memento mori motifs were not uncommon, dating from the mid 17th Century to the 1930s. This early Verge silver skull pivots at the top of the cranium, whereas others pivot from the jaw. There are others created that fold open at the top of the head with enamel and diamonds, but pieces like these are extremely rare and command a high price. Examples exist from Switzerland, France, Germany and England. As written by the Taft Museum:

“The skull and watch are part of the standard subject matter of 17th-century vanitas still lifes. Vanitas is from the Latin for “emptiness” or “untruth,” from which comes the English word “vanity.” Such pictures depict objects that have an underlying moral message—usually about the fleeting nature of physical reality. Therefore, it is not surprising that the skull and watch, two reminders of the passage of time, should merge in a single object. The use of the skeleton hand, however, is unusual.1“

Thomas White Memento Mori Watch, c.1780

Beautiful, "lethal" freeformed Nixie tube clock

Having seen and admired Matseng's freeformed "The Lethal Nixie Cube Clock," which displays the time one digit at a time, I have only one question: is this a great-looking Nixie tube clock, or the greatest-looking Nixie tube clock:

It's a clock made of a single IN-1 Nixie tube controlled by a ATMega8. The Mega8 directly controls 10 pcs of MPSA42 high voltage transistors for lighting up the filaments in in Nixie. It also generates the high voltage required for the tubes by a pwm output connected to a IRF520 N-FET and the usual inductor and fast recovery diode.

Freeformed Nixie Tube clock (via Make)

Anthrax's Dan Spitz is now a master watchmaker

Hodinkee's John Reardon has a great profile on and interview with Dan Spitz, former Anthrax guitar hero who quit the music business to become a world-renowned, prize-winning watchmaker who hand-lathes his own replacement parts for antique watch restorations. Reardon quit his gig to spend more time with his family -- he has twin boys who have autism -- and to pursue his lifelong technical passions. He's hand-built his own workbench!

Funny story, actually. I was working as a watchmaker in Geneva and thinking I would never go back to music when Dave Mustaine from Megadeth called me and said “Dude, what are you doing? Stop messing with watches. You need to come back and start writing music again. You are one of the creators of our genre, thrash metal. You need to stop tinkering around with these million dollar toys and get back to music.” This lecture led to the end of my solitary confinement as a watchmaker. I looked down the bench and saw another watchmaker working on a crazy watch but obviously also headbanging. I walked over to him and saw that he was blasting Slayer. He was working on a multiple fly-back, jump hour, chrono, perpetual calendar, moon phase, tourbillon and he’s blasting Slayer! I looked at him and thought, “That’s it, I’m done. I’m going back to music.” In the end, most people in Switzerland are blasting while working on watches, anything from Barbra Streisand to Slayer.

My grandfather was a watchmaker, and I grew up playing with junk movements and parts. It's amazing to hear the story of someone so accomplished -- especially in a second career begun as an adult.

Interview: Meet Dan Spitz, Anthrax Guitarist Turned Master Watchmaker (via Kottke)

Crononauta: stylized photos of Brazil's abandoned public clocks


Brazilian artist Diego Kuffer writes, " I have a new series of photos called 'Chrononaut'. It's about how experience shapes the way we perceive the world and reality. Also, it pictures public clocks in Sao Paulo that are abandoned, because it isn't allowed anymore to post ads in public spaces, as part of a law that forbids this kind of visual pollution."

diego kuffer » Crononauta

Click watches look like light-switches


Click's latest watches are the "Wall Switches." As the name implies, they look like wide, flat, blank wall-switches, but have a hidden illuminated time-display that lights up when the switch is flicked.

Click Wall Switch Watches

Ornate assemblage clock


The latest from Roger Wood's feverish imagination: a glorious higgeldy-piggeldy of an assemblage clock.

Animated tiny people depict current events on the faces of vintage watches


Holy crap, but Dominic Wilcox's sculptures are seriously up my street. He mods little plastic people to depict strange and newsworthy contemporary moments, then animates them by affixing them to the faces of vintage wristwatches and pocket-watches under oversized domed crystals.

Dominic Wilcox has created a series of miniature time-based sculptures using a collection of vintage mechanical watches and customised model figures. By attaching tiny figures onto the second and minute hands of each watch, Wilcox has made unique, animated scenes from everyday observations and imagined situations.

Watch sculptures : Moments in time by Dominic Wilcox (via DVICE)

Belt-driven Devon Tread watches


New in the Watchismo Vault collection, the $17,500 Devon Tread watches, which use a cunning system of belts and optical sensors to keep and display the time. No, I don't have $17.5K to drop on something like this, but if you asked me to imagine what a $17.5K watch should look like, it would be something much like this: "The exposed movement is a mesmerizing display of the patented interwoven system of conveyor belts. This series of belts includes critical elements that allow the optical recognition system to know every belt position at all times."

Devon Tread