I like wrist candy as much as the next lady, but I like to tell the time geek style. This tends to mean complicated binary systems and watches where you actually need a manual to decode the time, but hey, who doesn’t suffer for true geekdom? To make purchasing your next watch a little bit easier I’ve created my top ten geek watch brands- all which offers styles suitable for both men and women. Yes, watches are unisex in general (minus those with unsightly pink sparklies) but women have more delicate wrists so sometimes it’s good to also be catered for. From the big brands such as Tokyoflash to newer makes that are starting to get into geekery, I’ve tried to be as comprehensive as possible. Get ready to drool…
This brand may be hard to spell and pronounce (they like you to say Zero) and their main selling point is that their watches lack any hands or obvious time markings at all. The minimalist design does allow you to read the time, but you do so by focusing on the pattern of rings inside the clock face, as the coloured swirls indicate the passing of time. Might be a little trippy to start with, but the simplicity is very attractive and they come in a lot of colour combinations. They were created by Robert Dabi, a German designer, and there are a number of models available.
My favourite is the Ziiiro Mercury (far left) which comes in four colourways. The inner swirl tip denotes the hour and the outer blue swirl is the minutes- and the watch colours will constantly be moving, in a rhythmic, almost ocean like motion. The Ziiro Orbit (bottom right corner) uses a ‘planetary’ display for time, whereby the hour and minutes revolve around each other,the coloured orb representing hours and the white orb displaying the minutes. You kind of get the idea now right- once you’ve got your head around this concept I think you;d really start to enjoy using these pretty timepieces.
Prices start at Euro 129 plus shipping.
TokyoFlash Japan watches
TokyoFlash watches are the Daddies of the geek watch industry and any techie worth their Reddit points will nod knowingly at their inclusion. First famous for their binary watches they now have a stable of beautiful and complicated looking devices which all feature stylish designs and a rather long manual (trust me, I’ve got one at home). I won’t go into detail about every single of their watches- that would be a whole separate article, but let me tell you about the Kisai Sensai Pure, one of their newer models (top left). A button touch activates the LED lights,, with 12 LED red lights being the hours, eleven green LEDs are groups of five minutes and four yellow LEDs are single minutes. Following so far? Right then- you can also have a running animation where once a minute for 12 minutes the sequence will flash, or you can activate it when needed. Overcomplicated and unnecessary, definitely, but that’s the definition of cool right? (well, for some people). All of their watches take some getting used to, but they’re actually far simpler to translate than they look, and will get you admiring comments anywhere you go.
Nooka is an interesting watch brand as watches are only a part of what they do. As well as creating startlingly stylish arm candy, they also manufacturer candles and glasses, Crested in 2004, Nooka was created by a guy called Matthew Waldman, who was a graphic design graduate. He’d done some watch design work for Seiko that got discontinued, so decided to set up on his own with the skills he learnt. Nooka was born and with it a philosophy (design students are big on this kind of thing) which was ‘a universal language, which guides the creation of products with enhanced functionality and a futuristic philosophy’
Catchy, huh? Let’s deconstruct one of the watches, the Nooka Zub Zen-H (top left). The top two rows show the hours and the third row shows minutes, with the fourth row displaying seconds. You also get a built in alarm and a chrono mode. Though the designs vary- some include digital number elements as well- the premise is normally lights depicting certain segments of time. The colour choices are great, and I love that some of the models are mix and match, so you can play around with colour options (if you have the extra cash to buy additional pieces).
Eink is becoming a commonplace term nowadays with the rise in the Kindle’s popularity, but it’s still fairly new territory in terms of watches. The Phosphor E Ink watch series utilizes an eInk display- just like you’d see on a Kindle or a Nook. What do we know about this tech- it’s easy on the eye and doesn’t promote eye strain. Not really that important in a watch though is it? On he other hand, the battery life of eInk tends to be amazing, so that could be a plus. The design is pretty utilitarian (left and second left) but there’s something quite nice about how simplistic it looks.
There are two modes, a digital display and a clock display and you can change from black on white to white on black. It’s water resistant to 50m and you have a choice of strap- leather or a tacky looking polyurethane version.
I’m impressed a company is utilizing eink in this manner and want to see what they do next. They also sell more traditional watches (the two Phosphor Appear models on the top right) which are powered by what they call ‘Micro-Magnetic Mechanical Digital tech’, where Swarovski adorned rotors reveal the time. Every minute an electromagnetic pulse changes the crystal positions to alter the time, so the watch likely twinkles- you’ll have to decide if that’s your cup of tea or not. They say it ‘elegantly displays the passing time’, I reckon that might be more a Paris Hilton thing… It’s from $185 for the Eink watches and $199 for the Phosphor Appear versions.
The Vanity Mirror watch
I know this watch is straying outside the geek watch brands I promised you, but I had to include it as I simply find it such a useful concept. The design is sleek and minimal, with a platinum body and it works as a mirror 90% of the time, easily letting you check your lipstick- or see if you have a strange foundation smudge. When you press the button a red LED display shows the time for a few seconds, and then its back to pure mirror bliss. What can I say- this would be very useful for me!
Nixon watches were created in 1997, by two Californians, Andy Laats & Chad DiNenna. Both were keen extreme sports fans and wanted to create watches that would suit their snow and surf lifestyles. They have many cool and curious artefacts in their watch stable, with some of my favourites being the Newton (far left and third left) which comes in many colours and uses a rotating disc light display to let you tell the time.. It’s made of one piece of silicone with a custom design and a polycarbonate buckle and further info on its workings can be found in the manual here. I like these- the colour variations are attractive, they look expensive and they scream geek chic.
Swedish designer David Ericsson created Void Watches and it’s pretty easy to tell that they’re Swedish- they look so contemporary, the designs are very clean and the shape is very expressive. The tech may be limited to a backlit display but they deserve an inclusion based on their ‘almost architectural expression. Just like a great building is designed to fit its environment, all VOID Watches are made to sit perfectly on your wrist.’ How can you not like a motto like that? You have various colour-ways to choose from and there are digital and chronograph options.
Storm watches might be seen by some as an unusual inclusion, as any teen of the nineties remembers how in demand their bubble watches were at school- your popularity was literally ranked by whether you were a Swatch or a Storm kid. Fast forward a few years and they now have some remarkably high tech models, worthy to be dangled on a geek girls fashionistas arm.
A few favourites would be the MK2 circuit (far left) which features a vertical LED display that shows the time. The left lights denote hours and the right side shows minute in 10-50 minute segments. Water resistant to 50m and with a sleek stainless steel body it’s rather lovely. I’m also very drawn to the Storm Code Watch (far right) which looks a little like a traffic light on crack. The multi coloured display is used to tell the time, with a reasonable grasp on multiplication needed to accurately get the right time every go. Red signifies x 1, green signifies x 2, yellow x 3 and blue means 5- you get the general gist. There are many other cool designs as well, so it’s hared to choose which to opt for!
Black Dice is a UK watch brand (hurrah for us) with the Black Dice Guru watch probably their most recognizable model. A scrolling LED display shows the time and you can programme them to spell out messages as well as the time (I’m thinking wOOt! rather than I love you). Water resistant to 50m, the plastic strap design is very durable and they come in multiple colourways.
Other Black Dice offerings include the chunky looking (top right) Retro LED watch which is waterproof to 30m and features a thick metal band for a stronger more masculine look.
Rebel Swap Watches
Rebel Swap watches bring a whole new meaning to the term integrated media as they’re almost like having a netbook attached to your wrist (pictured right). Not only do they work as Bluetooth enabled mobile phones (headset needed), they’re also a camera (spy potential) video player, MP3 player and they feature a 1.46 inch touchscreen. Small, but we’re used to Apple iPod Nano’s by now. You can fit them with a 2GB SD card (expandable to 8GB) and they have SMS, calendar and uh, calculator features. There’s a built in loudspeaker if you’re not of the Bluetooth persuasion, but this might involve a fair amount of shouting at your wrist.
The Swap Crystal Nova (top left) is one of their latest models and is designed for women.. It has a larger touchscreen than the Rebel Swap watch, coming in at 1.76 inches and does seem to be fairly fond of Swarovski crystals- hey, some people love them! There’s a built in USB port (hurrah) for easy syncing of media and it weighs in at 295g. Battery life is standby 82 hours and 2-3 for talking. I think it’s cute and definitely will make you feel like Ms Bond, but feel this would supplement your everyday phone rather than replace it.
Feel free to disagree with my choices- or let me know who you think should be on this list as I’m always happy to learn about new geek watches.