When it comes to timepieces I’m firmly in the camp that thinks the digital watch is the pinnacle of time telling technology. It imparts its information at a glance with no need to waste time adding or subtracting minutes in multiples of five, or estimating if the big hand is two or three minutes between markers – if there are markers at all. I will concede, however, that for many people watches are as much a fashion statement as a means to tell time and as such designers are always looking to redefine the humble watch in different and interesting ways. The latest eye-catching timepiece to catch our eye is the Geocentric concept watch that uses a motion similar to planets rotating around a sun to tell time.
The brainchild of designer Geoffrey Cooper, the Geocentric watch displays the time through the position of three rotating rings on the face of the watch, giving it the appearance of a mini orrery – the mechanical devices used to illustrate the relative positions and motions of the planets and moons in the solar system. That appears to be Cooper’s intention, stating that the watch was inspired by science and science fiction. As with an orrery, the rings are in constant motion and the visibility of the watch’s interior mechanism only adds to what Copper calls, “a mesmerizing spectacle".
It isn’t clear exactly how one reads time from the device, but presumably it is based on where each of the rings comes into contact with each other. Although the Geocentric watch is only a concept at this stage, it’s an analogue watch I’m willing to make time for.
... and in case you were wondering, we're indebted to Charles Boyle, Earl of Orrery (1676–1731) for the wonderful term given an apparatus that represents the position and motion of the planets. One of the first modern orrerys was made for Boyle in the early 1700s by George Graham and Thomas Tompion, although the idea has been around since classical times.