Meccania DG: Another World's Perfect Steampunk Watch


Although at first blush the limited-edition Di Grisogono Meccanica DG watch looks just like a garish, glow-in-the-dark LED favored by some spaced-out raver, the whizzygig's horological guts reveal it to be something far more elegant: a mechanical watch that looks and acts like a digital one, thanks to the stupendous complexity of the 651 interlocking gears tightly compacted within.

Just 177 of these amazing timepieces are going to be made to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Geneva-based horloger. Billed as the most complicated digital-analog timepiece in the world, the digital display is actually mechanical, with rolling tubes forming the digital segments.

Needless to say, a limited edition of this sort of craftsmanship is going to cost more than your average airport Swatch. I love it, though. Oxidized, made of copper and attached to a band made out of elephant leather, it would make the perfect steampunk watch: a time piece that simulates a device of the 21st century with the technology of the 19th. Someone needs to show Jake von Slatt how to make an LCD monitor like this.

First Watch with All-Mechanical "Digital" Display (Verdict: Absolutely Amazing) [Gizmodo]

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  1. Actually there was a “monitor” like this at Siggraph a few years ago, though it wasn’t really very “Steam-punky” (Sorry, Corey). It was about 7 feet square, with 1″ cubes of wood as “pixels”. Each side of the cubes were stained with a different darkness value, and were individually mounted on motor-controlled spindles.

    Beneath each cube (in the very small gap between cubes) was a light sensor that would gauge the amount of light reflected by an object that passed in front of it. The effect of walking in front of this display was sort of a physical, low-res mirror. The wood blocks would spin to the appropriate value (with a little lag), but it was very fluid and cool and sounded awesome as all the “pixels” spun around in near real time.

  2. How many times a day do I have to sign in?

    De Grisogono (note correct speling) are primarily a jeweler and not a horological developer and innovator. That watch looks like De Witt’s work to me. I have seen some of the De Grisogono watches and they are really beautiful.

    Click below if you’re curious and have more tolerance than me for loud, slow, boggy monitor hogging Flash sites:

    1. Ross, we’re having commenting problems, so the logins are screwy. We’re on it, though. Sorry!

  3. It’s a little deceptive to say “celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Geneva-based horloger.” since they produced their first watch in 2000.

  4. Low-res electromechanical pixel displays are common — most new city busses and roadside displays have them (typically monochrome yellow/black; I’ve presumed some form of disk flipped with a magnet but I honestly don’t know).

    The challenge for those is making the pixels small enough, and responsive enough… and if you want more than on/off, coming up with something which supports intermediate shades.

    The impressive thing about this watch is not just the size but that it is _fully_ mechanical. The linkages/cams which drive those segments must be entertaining; I’d love to see a blueprint.

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