Time seems to be invisible, only sensed through changes. Like the rhythm between day and night. Thus, the rotation of a planet became a universal time indicator for every being on earth. TIMECODE shows the time in a similar way.
TIMECODE negotiates time in a highly visual display through which hours, minutes and seconds are represented by 60 vertical bars. Minutes and seconds are shown by single bars gliding from left to right, while the hours are shown by an array of bars. At midnight the watch is dark, yet it gets brighter and brighter with every passing hour, with the entire display finally being filled at noon. In the afternoon, the process reverses until a state of darkness is again reached at midnight. The digital display is embedded in an understated polygonal case.
Is there an existing original way of visualizing time? I think there is none, or probably as much as one can imagine. Numbers, indexes and digits are just symbols for different methods of encoding and decoding time. Time itself remains invisible. The design reveals the information. But just because we are used to a certain type of design doesn’t mean that it is the only possible interpretation. Sometimes, changing the interpretation opens new insights, even by simply reading the time.
If someone who never learned to read a clock is introduced to different ways of reading time, like circular, numerical or through a sandglass, what would be the easiest concept to understand? Probably the sandglass, because the metaphor is simple: Time is symbolized through the amount of matter. Like the sandglass, faces of traditional watches are restricted to certain materials and mechanics. Thus, the design of showing time is generally influences by technique. If the technique would be different, the face would look different too and finally our expectation of how time should be displayed would change. Digital displays open new possibilities, potentially questioning traditional methods of communicating and perceiving information: this watch needs no alarm, calendar or other additional features, which are already available on other digital devices. It simply shows time in the most pure and direct manner.
The packaging introduces the concept of the watch. The top view shows a traditional clock face. While extending the lines through a 90° angel onto the side view, the face turns into a linear arrangement.
Early 3D renderings and design studies (chrome case, unibody glass case).
The TIMECODE principle was first introduced in 2003 in my book “Grids for the Dynamic Image” (Page 104). Since then, some watches with similar approach reached the market but none of them matched the original idea of showing all time related information purely in one dimension.
While working on the Book “Grids for the Dynamic Image”, I started to reduce and shift different dimensions. As the book introduces a grid system for dynamic media, the grid system itself has to be dynamic. It has to cover as much dimensions as the media developed for, which are indeed three dimensions plus time (4D). The process of transferring the research results into a two dimensional media like a book turned out to be a very important part of the project. It leads to some basic studies on the question of how multiple information dimensions can be reduced and simplified without loosing their inherent information. So I did a serial of studies on this topic. The TIMECODE principle is one of the results. It concentrates all time related information into one dimension, including hours, minutes and seconds.
From the book “Grids for the Dynamic Image: “The original idea of this clock design is to communicate the transitions between day and night emotionally and rationally. Time units and the progress of time allocated a space which moves from left to right and from right to left according the progress of time. This means that you can always see how many hours and how many minutes are passed. And this concept fulfills the originally concept of distinguishing between day and night, because the whole space is black at night and white at midday.”
3D rendering and prototype with LCD display (polygonal case design)