Telling The Time With Watches that Have Atypical Hands

Telling The Time With Watches that Have Atypical Hands

Collector’s Guides • 16 Oct 2015

Telling The Time With Watches that Have Atypical Hands

by Olivier Müller


Could we tell the time without the usual hands? 99% of brands say ‘no’. It’s a question of habit: from our earliest years, our brain learns to tell the time using at least two hands. For most people, taking hands off the dial would be like taking the time off the watch. Still, many independent brands, keen to invent new watchmaking codes for the new millennium, have created some efficient ‘hands-free’ models.

Urwerk UR-210S
Urwerk is probably the most iconic of them all. What Felix Baumgartner and Martin Frei invented has become more than an idea: it’s now the brand’s trademark. In the current collections, the UR-210 is the model that best embodies their satellite invention for reading time: a cube featuring four hours engraved on four of its faces, flying above a 0-60 scale indicating the minutes. Simple and obvious – and also very creative.

The Urwerk UR-210S is the model that best embodies their satellite invention for reading time.
The Urwerk UR-210S is the model that best embodies their satellite invention for reading time.

 

HYT H3
The HYT H3 is more extreme. In a huge rectangular case more than 50 mm across lives a fluid caliber that tells a linear story: a series of cubes describes a 0 to 6-hour period of time, while a 0-60 retrograde linear scale shows minutes.

The HYT H3 has a linear fluid caliber for the hour and a retrogarde linear scale for minutes.
The HYT H3 has a linear fluid caliber for the hour and a retrogarde linear scale for minutes.

MB&F HM5
Max Büsser and his friends are playing another game, especially with their HM5. Still, nothing really new here as this “Horological Machine” uses a digital display, similar to a quartz watch. While the main challenge was that of powering the watch with a genuine mechanical Swiss caliber, the HM5 reading is anything but intuitive, as it uses the well-known jumping hour display, in which each hour instantaneously switches to the next, in the blink of an eye.

The MB&F HM5 has a digital jumping hour display in which each hour instantaneously switches to the next.
The MB&F HM5 has a digital jumping hour display

 

Ulysse Nardin Freak

Ulysse Nardin Freak
Ulysse Nardin Freak

When it comes to Ulysse Nardin, the Freak is on the center stage. With neither dial nor hands, it is constructed so that the movement turns about its own axis. Connected together at the center of the watch, the lower deck displays the hours, while the upper deck – which carries the gear train, the balance wheel and balance-spring unit and the exclusive Dual Ulysse silicium escapement – shows the minutes.

Spero Lucem La Clemence

If there’s one outsider to mention, it’s Spero Lucem. The Geneva-based brand has created a watch where hands can’t be trusted: ask their La Clemence to repeat the time (literally, let its chimes ring the number of hours and then minutes), and the hands on this minute-repeater, created in 2013, will go crazy. This playful world premier is pregnant with meaning: after all, the purpose of the minute-repeater mechanism is to indicate the time by sound, so it makes sense to help the user concentrate on that, without being tempted to use their eyes to confirm what they’re hearing!

The hands of the Spero Lucem La Clemence will move wildly when the minute repeater chimes and return to their original position indicating the time when the minute repeater finished chiming.
The hands of the Spero Lucem La Clemence will move wildly when the minute repeater chimes and return to their original position indicating the time when the minute repeater finished chiming.

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