Planetary Clock Project Pt. 1

One of the long-running project ideas that I have is watchmaking – it is the main driver for me to learn CNC and metalworking. Although it will be a long while before I even fathom making a watch movement, a watch case and/or custom dials is not out of the question.

Since university, I have been conceptualizing a particular watch face design and even sketched up functional 3D models in SolidWorks. I called this design “planetary dials” because the minutes dial revolves around with the hour hand, making it a responsive regulator dial (hour and minute hands on separate dials). I have always loved regulator style faces as the wearer’s eyes are paused for a moment to appreciate the separation of units.

I thought this was a unique approach to time telling. Then I was very surprised to find out that someone out there has, in fact, created a watch in a similar stream of thinking (produced after I designed mine and with way more complexity). Take a look at the Ressence Type 1 for a truly cool watch. This is even more motivation for me to get my idea out into the real world.

The miniaturization needed for a watch might be an insurmountable wall for me but perhaps a clock-size model can be achieved with my current level of skill. Essentially, this calls for prototyping and I have access to just the machine – a laser cutter. With a laser cutter, I can quickly make very complex plates and gears (exactly what early watches and clocks are made up of). Forget about the actual time keeping mechanism, what I am after is a unique physical representation of time that speaks to my personality. For the first clock, I think a stepper motor will do as the power unit. It will not only time-keep but also allow programmable movements that can really show off the face design hand motion.

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