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Who Says Two Is Better Than One?

In general if you ask someone if they would like two or one most people will say two.  When Daniel and I were discussing the merits of the two hands on a watch face there were two specific aspects of the classic watch face that we were looking at.  The first was that in order to read the classic watch your eyes actually need to scan two distinct locations, depending on how you do it first is the hour and then the minute location (or vice versa) and from there there is a process of decryption to come to the time that we commonly understand or would communicate. Then we looked at how the digital watch worked, this is a single look and the answer merely needs to be read – there is no decryption process.

hourglass on a black background
The hourglass was one of the first time keeping instruments, there was only one point to look at.

The hour glass was one of the very first time keeping instruments, although very rudimentary when we compare it to today’s watches the interesting thing we noticed was that it is read at a single location, although it has to be admitted there is a lot of decryption and maybe some mental arithmetic to be done to keep the time.

Even before a mechanical movement though the concept of complications was alive to bring more accuracy to the process of timekeeping.  The Chinese were particularly adept at this and came up with some quite sophisticated sun dials, this one is particularly intricate with two needles and various inclinations for the platen which I would imagine are there to incline depending on the month of the year.  Once again the human desire towards complication was at the fore even back then.

Chinese sun dial with dual pin and inclined bases
This Chinese sundial had two hands – a complication of an earlier age.

The discussion that Daniel and I pursued was to simplify the process, a single point to receive all the information needed to tell the time and reduce any process of decryption.  We were looking at the digital watch for the simplicity in reading the time but wanted to ensure that we kept a mechanical movement. it was the challenge of simplification of reading the time trying to reduce the decryption process and maintain the mechanical movement that led us to SNGLRTY.

The solution to our challenge was to send the minutes backwards – how we got to that?  I really cannot remember, that has been lost in the mist of time.

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Where it Started

Daniel and I started this journey in early 2015, it was a bit of a random conversation over a couple of glasses of wine.  That conversation was the start of this journey to bring #SNGLRTY to the world.

At university I studied engineering and whilst I never practiced as an engineer in any way shape or form the analytic discipline that those four years foisted on me was where some of the initial thinking came from.  We were talking about a watch in its basic form – the energy store (spring), a motor (balance wheel) and a gear box (escapement & gears that allow the various time intervals to be displayed) – and as I thought about that the similarities to a internal combustion engine was not lost on me.

It was the gear box element that really started to catch my thinking as Daniel and I discussed the whole concept of how time has been displayed in the classic model.  How can we change it, make it different, so that we move away from the classic presentation of time on a watch face that needs decryption to something that is focused more on the solution.  Just playing around with this in my head I thought ‘what about a reverse gear?‘  Once we were able to put that into the mix the concept began to really take shape and the final design was scrawled on the back of a beer mat.