Antique Pocket Watch Project Updates Antique Pocket Watch

Here at Hackaday we have a bit of a preoccupation with timepieces. Maybe it’s the deeply personal connection to an object you wear on your body, or the need for ultimate reliability. Perhaps it’s just a fascination with the notion of time itself. Whatever the case, we don’t seem to be alone as there is a constant stream of time-related projects coming through our virtual doors. For this article we’ve unearthed the LED Pocketwatch 1.0 by [Dr. Pauline Pounds] from way back in 2009 (ironically via a post about a wristwatch from last year!). Fortunately for us the Internet Archive has saved this heirloom nouveau from the internet dustbin so we can appreciate the craftsmanship involved in [Dr. Pounds]’ work.

Check out the wonderful, spiral routing!

My how far we’ve come; a decade after this project was posted a hacker might choose to 3d print a case for a new wearable, but in 2009 that would have been an entire project by itself! [Dr. Pounds] chose to use the casing from an antique Elgin pocket watch. Even through the mists of a grainy demo video we can imagine how soft the well-worn casing must be from heavy use. This particular unit was chosen because it was a hefty 50mm in diameter, leaving plenty of room inside for a 44mm double sided PCBA with 133 0603 LEDs (60 seconds, 60 minutes, 12 hours), a PIC 16F946, an ERM, and a 110mAh LiPo. But what really sets the LED Pocketwatch 1.0 apart is the user interface.

The ERM is attached directly to the rear of the case in order to best conduct vibration to the outside world. For maximum authenticity it blips on the second, to give a sense that the digital watch is mechanically ticking like the original. The original pocket watch was designed with a closing lid which is released when the stem is pressed. [Dr. Pounds] integrated a button and encoder with the end of the stem (on the PCBA) so the device can be aware of this interaction; on lid open it wakes the device to display the time on the LEDs. The real pièce de résistance is that he also integrated a minuscule rotary encoder, so when the stem is pressed you can rotate it to set the time. It’s all quite elegantly integrated and imminently usable.

At this point we’d love to link to sources, detailed drawings, or CAD files, but unfortunately we haven’t found any. If this has you inspired check out some of the other pocket watches we’ve posted about in the past. If you’re interested in a live demo of the LED Pocketwatch 1.0, check out the original video after the break.

54 thoughts on “Antique Pocket Watch Project Updates Antique Pocket Watch

    1. I am a trained watchmaker- if he destroyed the original watch in this or threw it out, yeah.

      But you have any idea how many old pocketwatch cases are floating around with no movement (aka the actual watch) in them?

      If anything- this was one of plethoras of abandoned cases, and thus and also a really admirable reuse of the case. It’s a project done with love from the sprial trace routing alone, he really cared about the feel of an old watch.

      This is ok and cool with me- the micro rotary encoder stem set is brilliant.

      1. Gah! I have three pocket watches from my grandfather, all silver. One of them is the “needs a key to wind” kind mentioned below. One is silver and gold, engraved with “20 years of service” or some such. I don’t think any of them actually work.

        No one in the family wants them. Similar watches from 1901 or 1895 can be had on eBay for under $100.

        Can these really be so rare and valuable that something should be done with them?

        What do I do with them?

        1. I can’t tell you what to do with them. I can tell you what has happened to others-

          The reason many fine watches dont have a case is because of gold and silver prices over the years. Watch cases made of precious metals have almost always since it started been a sort of portable bank so that if the owner needed cash quickly he could always sell his watch case, and recase in something cheap.

          Unfortunately that has caused generations of beautiful and rare cases to be scrapped for metal and left the movements the actual watch inside orphaned and lonely often in some watchmakers drawer from 50 years ago.

          Generally speaking this is still done but it is not really spoken about and most accredited watchmakers will not like to do this. Depending on the watch many if not most will refuse outright to help someone scrap the case and may only separate the movement under protest.

          It’s kind of a sad reality we deal with. You are in the situation of a lot of other people.

          Best thing I can tell you is as a horologist, it makes me cry if you orphan a watch to melt down the case. If you sell it to someone on eBay that is often what they are doing and they will not tell you because once they buy it it is theirs.

          Visit your local accredited watchmaker and ask their opinion or their valuation. I am in the United States, so I refer you to the AWCI- American Watch & Clockmaker’s Institute. There is a “Find a Professional” link partway down their page that will help you find your local practicing horologists. Ones with current accreditation with be marked CW21 or even better CMW21 that can help you more possibly.

          Most of them do not specialize in vintage watches but everyone knows something about vintage watches if they are practicing. My specialty is vintage. But I am not currently practicing again for complex reasons.

          Best thing I can tell you if you want to make money from them and don’t want to see them melted down, offer to sell them to a collector with the NAWCC- National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors. Those people generally are not scrappers.

          Hope this helps some. Good luck!

        2. I have 3 Elgin watches that I sent to have repaired. All 3 are now working peices of art. One was my great uncles and the other two I got off ebay for less than $50 each. Fix them, use them and pass them along.

    2. Just saw- there was a broken movement in it. Many people do not know they can find empty antique cases.

      He did not modify the case or watch- I am ok with this. Elgin are very nice generally speaking, but that looks like a cheap model that was pin set- because of the bump on the case, where a small pin protrudes between the halves of the bump into the watch. Depressing that bump allows the setting mechanism to engage when turning the stem.

      Its an older form of setting, usually used on the cheapest movements. Also called nail set, as you could depress it with a long fingernail. better watches used a lever set from Elgin, or a crown set like most wristwatches, or even a key.

      He engineered around the case without hurting it and presumably saved the cheap movement. I think his grandfather would be impressed.

  1. I hope he at least had the decency to gut a pocketwatch that was hopelessly destroyed inside… if not… oof. You know you can get crappy pocketwatches that, if gutted, would make absolutely perfect cases for this sort of application at Walmart, right…? All of us (and I mean that literally, to the point of educating laypeople on the subject) really should have enough respect for old technology of /any/ kind, such that we are more inclined to preserve it in its original state as much as possible rather than to “update” it.

    Just as a Commodore 64 loses a lot when you toss out that motherboard that really only needed (eg) a couple replacement DRAMs and stuff it full of Raspberry Pi and Arduino and the like — a vintage, heirloom pocketwatch that just needed cleaning and maybe a little lubrication (or a bit of a tune-up and prodding after being overwound), insterad finding itself suddenly full of LEDs is something of a drastic indignity — in a number of distinct and important ways. It is an indignity to the now-discarded clockwork that used to be inside, because of that clockworks’ years if not decades of service. It is an indignity to the watchmaker(s), because that person or people — whether a group that made up a factory line, or a true artisan, a craftsman and tradesman watchmaker who built each watch himself in its entirety, all on his lonesome own when he didn’t have an apprentice handy to do the lesser work — inevitably put care and attention into that watch and its design and function.* It’s also an indignity to anyone else who has worn the watch, since those people were smart and kind enough to put *their* faith in its now-discarded inner workings, and took the time (heh) to make sure they understood at least how to take the watch to someone who could give it proper care when it needed servicing of any kind, even if they themselves didn’t actually service the watch. In a sense, it even denigrates the modern electronic gadgetry stuffed inside — after all, if the previous inhabitants of that space were discarded without a second thought, simply because they didn’t seem to work immediately upon being picked up and tampered with by the current owner, the new inhabitants are unlikely to do much better with the same host.

    Of course, there are cases where no matter what you do, unless you specialize in extreme repair sort of situations (like that one guy on YouTube who rebuilds severely broken vintage computers — serious props to him, he’s awesome for doing that) there’s just no way things are going to work out for a particular piece of equipment. For example, I was given a Commodore Plus/4 at one point that the previous owner described the history of as, “I found it curbside in the rain while driving around, about ten years ago. I decided to rescue it, but I never found time to plug it in or really do anything with it at all, so it’s literally sat on a shelf, being ignored, the entire time I’ve had it… I know you’re into this stuff yourself, so maybe you have a use for it?” I took it home, plugged it in, turned it on… black screen, no signs of life. Immediate unplug and turn off. Upon flipping the case over for disassembly, I found that all the screws were missing. Inside, the lone circuit board was covered in wrinkly traces (i.e., the PCB substrate had begun to delaminate) and considerable quantities of rust. Most of the pins in the chip sockets and connectors throughout the machine were badly corroded… as were an alarming number of unsocketed chips’ legs. The keyboard cable was clearly disconnected and it was in bad shape indeed — the Plus/4 used an early form of flat-flex cable for that, which is fine, until the little conductive-ribbon ‘finger’ contacts come off the stiff plastic backing, and that’s *exactly* what’d happened here. I pulled the socketed chips and cleaned them carefully (91% isopropyl alcohol and cotton swabs), and set them aside in antistatic bags. I also kept the housing and the keyboard… the mobo, having been stripped of the easily-removable stuff, went to the local eWaste bin for recycling. I have a period-appropriate project for the top of the case and the keyboard (minus original cable); the bottom part of the case has already been used elsewhere.

    …okay, that’s enough lecturin’ for today. Now get the heck off my lawn!


    *Yes, I really mean that. A pocketwatch of this sort didn’t come from Walmart, or from the era of modern manufacturing where everything is made somewhere foreign (usually, but not always, China) and the workers are barely paid enough to avoid starving themselves — forget any sort of care or meaningful attention that might go into their work, above the bare minimum to stay alive and employed. We all too often forget that, before the era of planned obsolescence took over in (roughly) the mid-1970s, there was an entirely different ethos about manufacturing — things were made well not only because they could be, but because they /should/ be. Engineers and assembly-line workers alike went home with a sense of pride every day, because they knew that they’d done their best that day to put out a good product. Major appliances were built to be heirloom machinery — when little Timmy finally grew up and married Sally across the street, they went and got a new (small) house down the road and Timmy’s folks Robert and Ethel gave the two his fridge and range/oven and dishwasher and (depending on era and affluence) clothes washer and dryer, and then Robert and Ethel went out and bought all-new, smaller appliances to fill the new spaces in between the cabinets, and Robert called his boss Jeff in the morning and there was a big office party as Robert finally got to retire. That really was a thing that happened (not with those exact names) all over the US from around the end of WW2 or so, through till the end of the 1970s. Planned obsolescence killed off that whole tradition… along with the general idea of having *anything* designed or built in a way that involved measurable amounts of quality… a pity we forget this (and let it go) far more often than we really should.

    1. Thanks for making the effort to pen such a thoughtful comment.

      The decline of an appreciation of and outlets for craftsmanship, replaced by unbridled consumerist unboxing videos on youtube of mass produced crap is to be lamented.

      Even if this watch was either beyond repair or if its original innards were preserved, your sentiments have relevance more generally in a time of conspicuous consumption and planned obsolescence.

    2. I appreciate your ethos. I do. And sometimes long posts are neccessary. I get it.

      But even I initially missed that the movement and case were not damaged or modified. looks like he saved them and engineered around them. The watch was something Ive seen countless times- a broken watch left in the drawers of a watchmaker’s estate, often accumulated.

      I’m a trained watchmaker (went to school in Oklahoma a few years ago for it, my school is gone now) and I used to work with an old man taking cheap junk antique pieces (I mean seriously, stuff that was not valuable- I refused to modify actually valuable stuff) and doing stuff like this, to pass my free time and learn antique movements safely.

      He was using super glue on screws when I met him. I tried for a year and a half to teach him proper modern professional skills as I worked with him. I worked on fusees, old American, everything. Most of it was making new cases for old movements, some of it new dials too.

      Honestly- I was using proper techniques, learning bezel set jeweling with antique jewels on watches like old Goliaths, only worth a couple hundred at most in perfect shape because they were so cheap, while he was using a dremel tool and superglue.

      I gifted him several Archie Perkins books on Antique Watch Restoration, and George Daniels’ Watchmaking. I tried to stop him from butchering actually valuable things- since there was noone else who could.

      In exchange, I gained a friend, a lot of grief, and some experience impossible to get on 200+ year old movements- without destroying anything, I think. I fixed most every serious thing that came through.

      Just found out this year he passed away, and I don’t miss his bodges- but I do miss him. He gifted me a very fine M.I. Tobias English fusee movement from the late 1700s, along with a lot of rare tools and movements.

      It came full circle when I found out my local Hackerspace, HackPGH in Pittsburgh, PA had bought his pantograph mill from his new business partnerxs estate. I’m restoring that soon for them, in his memory.

      ….This man- his grandfather was a horologist, and he didn’t modify the original parts- I am absolutely impressed, and ok with this. I am a purist normally among purists- it took every ounce of my will to work with the man I mentioned when I saw what he was doing. I tried to always keep it original, and not sacrifice my professional integrity, using professional techniques and tools whenever possible.

      So now, I normally don’t take any watchwork- and work to design my own mechanical watch.

      Please- always save the movement, and the case, if you can. Our posts are stupidly long- but he’s right. Respect the old pieces- don’t butcher them if you can avoid it, but know there are tons of movement free cases that often aren’t valuable out there for projects if you need one.

      This is for you, Ken H.

      1. Thank you, thank you, and thank you! A /very/ nice and well-thought out-reply… I treasure those, as in these days of Twitter and “Like” buttons, it is all too easy to leave a knee-jerk “you knucklehead” simply because, in that brief moment you disagree with the poster — regardless of whether or not they are actually correct — and, rather than do the actual thinking and research involved in verifying the truth (or not) of the matter, you express that momentary opinion and immediately wander onto other, more interesting things in the next moment, with no further thought to the subject previously at hand, and none whatsoever for the poster or your effect on that person.

        It’s quite sad indeed.

        Drew, you sound like a really cool dude, with some really cool stories to tell. If you have an account on the [dot]IO side of things, *please* hit me up in PMs (aka the chat feature, that little pair of stylized speech bubbles in the upper-right corner), as I’d love to talk with you more. I have the same handle there as here… in fact, if you *don’t* have an account over there, you might consider making one.

        Oh — and if we ever somehow manage to meet in real life, I owe you a drink, man.

    3. Holy crap guys, it would have taken a fraction of the time it took to pen your diatribes to actually read about the project and see that A, the watch was broken to begin with, and B, he specifically committed to not modify or damage the case or (broken) movement in the course of his project.

      Lastly, that you may have a particular interest or reverence for antique watches doesn’t give you the right to compel others to treat their own possessions in any particular way. I like natural outdoor environments, but I wouldn’t purport to tell someone else not to cut down some trees to build their home on a piece of property they own.

      Want to say “These things are increasingly rare, so I hope he saved the mechanism and didn’t irreversibly modify the case”? Fine. But to pen a thousand+ word rant? Jesus H. Christ. The world is facing far, far bigger issues that could benefit from your attention.

      1. I thought my story would shed some light on the horologists who arent working on professional pieces, dealing with “steampunk” junkers and cobblers, yet still have professional training. I know the value of my story to some is great, others not so much.

        In a world of 150 characters or less, I’m never given the ability to say anything more, or in depth online. I feel I have a unique story to tell in modern watchmaking, that adds to the discussion here. I’m sorry if you felt the need to add to that this way.

        I can’t speak for the other guy. That was damned long, but his heart means well.

        Last- I read the whole project. I saw shortly after my first post what was done. HaD has no edit button. I can’t fix something if I screw up here man. It ticks me off too. Chill.

    4. Thank you. I want to lay to rest concerns about the treatment of the watch, however. This case was a gift from my grandfather, along with other broken and empty cases. He gave me these pieces in his will because he knew I would do something strange and marvelous with them, not because they were suitable for repair or refurbishment. Even then, out of respect for my grandfather, I treated the cases with utmost care and every change made is reversible. I even learned some horology from his texts and from books I bought myself to ensure that nothing was damaged and that I could do repairs to the hinge and spring for the front cover (and I have gone on to restore to working condition other watches of his that did not run). I am forever hearing people opine about how this project is “sacrilege” but that is a mental short-cut that completely ignores the possibility that someone can undertake a project like this in a way that is respectful and dedicated to the craft of watchmaking. To wit – the stem encoder and button press function now appears in every Apple iWatch, which was released years after this project, so I would argue I have added to the field of horology, rather than taken from it.

      1. Let me be clear- your treatment of the objects here from reading your work- it was done with a kind of deeply respectful reverence for the item that I have rarely ever seen before, let alone for any repurposed antique.

        I think you are a wonderful person for doing so, and then on top of it, making such a beautiful thing to honor that case, to put in it.

        Yes- its circuitry. But I was trained to diagnose circuitry in quartz watches as well as fix them, on top of mechanical. Your PCB is a work of art compared to any quartz watch PCB Ive seen. I have never even seen spiral tracing before, it reminded me of a watch hairspring in large.

        I have no right to say whether one can or should do this with a watch, I only say as a trained horologist it makes us cry when people chop them up, as the man I worked with did sometimes. I tried to stop and teach him to fix.

        You actually not only did what I said at the start, you learned to fix the other watches too?

        You could have become a CEW in the 1970s. It’s a very rare, lost certification that hasn’t existed or been taught since the 1970s, it means Certified Electric Watchmaker. It was accredited by the then AWI, now the AWCI. Not many got it at the time, and only a few still living have it. They were masters of the early quartz watches.

        You are ok by me. If you ever need a project case for a bunch maybe I can machine some for you, and make them look old.

        1. To be clear — my position at this point is essentially identical to Drew’s, but without the background knowledge. He clearly knows what he’s talking about, and unlike some prominent people I could name but won’t — most of whom are elsewhere anyways — when I am in the presence of an expert in a given field, especially where I am largely unfamiliar myself with the topic, I defer to that expert’s knowledgeset and judgement.

          It is *extremely* clear at this point that not only were my initial concerns completely unfounded in entirety, at least in this specific example (although there are always others…), but that Pauline went very far indeed “above and beyond the call of duty” to make sure that this watch was crafted with the absolute maximum utmost possible respect that could ever be displayed in regards to its history and construction. What Pauline did, by his/her* own accounting, above, is not only impressive in its own right, but well above what *I’d* do myself in the same situation. I’m thorough, but I’m very rarely *that* thorough.

          Drew and Pauline, despite coming from different backgrounds, travelling different paths, and arriving from overall different places — you are both true craftsmen in this field, in the best way possible, and I salute you both. “Well done!” doesn’t even *begin* to cover this. (…and, again, if either of you ever find yourself near the middle of NC, USA, let me know — I owe you each a soda!)

          *I’ve made enough assumptions in this comment thread already. That opportunity is one I will avoid.

  2. I love the curved pcb routing!!
    There used to be an autorouter in geda that did topological routing, but sadly it was abandoned, and toporouter (commercial product) does beautiful routing (not as good as the watch here, but much better than my clunky efforts).

    I tried porting the geda code to a standalone program once, but didn’t manage to fix some geometric bugs in the import

    1. Well, my dad collects antique pocket watches, but if he sees this article my spare time is done for, because despite the supposed sacrilege (get a grip guys – it’s only a thing) he’d keep nagging me until I built him a replica of his own.

      1. Some of them are pretty rare and valuable. Even the cases. Just find a cheap junk case, polish it up, and its ok I feel. Lots of gunmetal cases long lost of their movements. Try to find one of those

  3. Yea, no. My father is a respected Horologist and he would be sickened to see this. I’m not as appalled but still a little uneasy.+ I read the post. The son inherits the workshop stuff and has a few broken watches and decides to stuff electrons into a beautiful Elgin case. Sorry man, i’m not digging that. You tampered with a piece of history. What you did was the equivalent of stuffing a quartz movement into the case – which is as one poster said, sacrilege. Those older pocket watches weren’t made by robots. They were hand made, meticulously, and sold at a small shop to the then owner that probably never got around to getting it repaired (or passed away) and sold it off, to which you came into possession through the passing of the the person who meant to fix it. Then you…put LED’s into it. The idea is amazing, so is the intent. The action is not. Had you told us you placed the board in a spare pocket watch case which had no movement, I would have approved. Sorry man.

  4. Ok, uhm – wow. Hello. Original maker here. A couple of quick updates for you all. Firstly, I’m awkwardly pleased to report that it is now “Pauline”, and I’ve been busy since that original work. In the meantime I’ve brought version 2 to practical completion and started on a lady’s watch version, and I’m slowly grinding away on the firmwar (I am not very good at firmware). I’ve also built many many new and varied types of unmanned aerial vehicle some of which have even been featured on HAD (I’m a roboticist by trade), started a UAV company, gained tenure at the University of Queensland, and gotten married. It’s been a crazy ride. If you would like some pictures of the new version or the lady’s watch, let me know – I’m also happy to give some details of my robotics research work from the past decade.

    1. Congratulations on your life journey!
      I think I emailed you years ago offering help if you wanted. I still think this was a brilliant idea! We all would love to see where you went with V2. Create a HaD project and you don’t have to worry about hosting!!
      Would you be willing to share CAD files of the PCB?

      1. I’m at the point now where as soon as I’ve finished the firmware I’ll just release everything – I had dreams of selling them for profit once, but my academic career has been such a huge time-sink that everything has taken longer (decades!) than expected. I’ll certainly post it all when I’m done.

    2. I read about your grandfather’s exploits with that drill with the needle- serious old school stuff. I’ve used a sewing needle as a boring bar myself once. Sounded like a cool guy.

      Congratulations on everything- sounds like you have a really sweet career. I hang out with roboticists occasionally, HaD crowd I’m sure would love to see more of your work there.

      Ladies watches from the 20s and 30s- a particularly crazy small form factor. If you pull that off- even as electronics that would be impressive. Post here if you need an orphaned case- I’ll ship you one on me. (I have a few that the movement is long lost before I got it)

    3. Awesome project, and thanks for stopping by this thread even after so much time. Congrats on all of your life accomplishments, and apologies on behalf of all the whiners on here. <3

    1. I legitimately looked into self-winding, even just for preserving the time clock and not display. It was barely feasible and it would eat all the space inside the case. As an art project, it didn’t make sense to execute it. I made a deliberate design decision to instead go with pretty bright LEDs rather than hand-winding or self-winding. The next version will have about a month between charging with occasional viewing. The ladies watch version will have a year of use between battery replacements.

  5. To everyone complaining that this is sacrilege or a horrible affront to the holy craft of horology punishable by death, just stop. This isn’t your property, and you have no moral nor legal right to tell another human what to do with their property (and I’m sure you’d make a huge stink if another person tried to force their ideology on you on what to do with your property). It’s fair enough to complain that it’s a shame to see a watch’s mechanism replaced with electronics, but don’t act like you are some sort of authority on how things have to be done. Your ideas are not law, just your opinion.

    1. Grow up, seriously. Your self-entitled attitude isn’t fooling anyone. Calling someone Boy and acting like whether or not you take kindly to something holds any weight are just silly. If you really cant take criticism, then it’s probably you who should get off the internet until you can mature, get some perspective and cool your head.

    2. You are correct.

      I only mentioned my story so someone could see the point of view of someone with a similar story who was recently professionally trained

      I am not a practicing repairer currently, for complex reasons of my own. That may change.

      There are many practicing horologists who would not be ok with this. Many of whom I know. I am not any authority on this- but I’m not a layman either.

      There is no law that says horologists must not do this- but there is a code of ethics we are supposed to adhere to as professional members of our trade organizations that governs what we agree we will or will never do when we fix a watch. This is not exactly covered by this.

      I would not like to see a business done like this, unless new cases made for purpose were used. This is technically called orphaning a movement, taking it from its (assumedly) original case. That is normally not ok with us.

      But in the end- I myself did not do this, nor are non horologists expected to hold to our standards. We encourage and educate for this- but its not as though we can control the public.

      Personally I would help someone doing this find a non-valuable already orphaned case for repurposing. If it is loved and treated as well as this without damage, I personally would be ok with it. I only approved since neither the movement nor case was damaged or modified.

      I’m just one view though. I have no right to tell others what to think- but I hope I can pursuade why historical integrity is important and should be preserved.

      If this was a valuable piece I’d be upset.

      1. I totally get that, I also get upset when I see some beautiful vintage piece of tech scrapped for just the case. And especially since horology is your profession it’s understandable there are more stringent ethics that you would need to follow.

        I was talking more from the standpoint of a layman/tinkerer/hobbyist who gets a broken watch secondhand and who may not be able to fix it or afford the services of someone who could (who knows it might be beyond economic recovery). I don’t see the point in vilifying such a person just because they want to do something with their own property.

        Hopefully I’m being clear that I’m not saying this to any one here in particular (I get the sense that you are levelheaded and really love your craft which is great), I was just responding to the train of conversation I see develop whenever an article like this comes up.

        1. Sorry I am a little long-winded but yeah this is a main part of my background. I dedicated nearly 2 years of my life full time for this.

          To be clear- I hold professional associations amongst watchmakers, but I am not doing it for my living right now. Its complicated. More than I care to discuss here. I put something very personal above I maybe shouldnt have. I don’t want to piss off any practicing horologists. It was a complex situation I got dealt with the gentleman, and I’d like to stay in good graces with other horologists.

          I love HaD, and watches are where I try told back my joy.

  6. You don’t need CAD nor other design files – Every watch case will require slightly different sizing I am sure. The schematic could be easily reverse engineered by simply thinking about what is going on here – The uC is obviously driving the LED’s in a multiplex format and from what is visible in the pics the configuration should be obvious. The code is obviously very simple. Interesting that back in 2009 he had a $1000 budget on this, I am guessing most of this was PCB cost. You should be able to do this for about $100 now, low volume PCB manufacturing costs have gone down considerably since then, I am guessing you could have these made of chinesium by the people of fearless dictator winnie the mao for under 10 bucks.

    Don’t really see the point, through. It’s not very attractive to look at when open, battery life will be very poor, and unless you add something to collimate the LED’s output, its just going to kind of suck….

    1. Hi – yes, PCBs were much more expensive back then, and the 0.1 mm spacing for the tracks was difficult to get. I had to go to a specialty vendor; nowdays and fab worth their salt will do 0.13 mm without blinking. I rather like how the PCB looks, so attractiveness is in the eye of the beholder, I guess? The LEDs were very visible in the day and blinding at night. I had to put an optical sensor on it to detect ambient lighting for modulating the LEDs to make them viewable in the dark.

      1. Poor contrast between the components when unlit, and extreme contrast between the LED and surround when illuminated. Smudges and damage on clear fascia will cause even more extreme diffusion of the light and will not be attractive. The point of a watch is to be able to tell time at a glance without straining your eyes. Not a commercially viable design. Stay in the safe space of academia while the grants last, you wouldn’t like the real world.

      2. I think you showed me this watch in Jaycar Belconnen back in the day. I was impressed as hell with how you tied it all together – it looked great in person! It also makes me realise how lucky we are in 2019 that high quality PCBs are cheap and arrive at your door in a coulle of days! Good luck with the next watch, and work/study. It would be great to see more of your projects on Hackaday when they’re ready for publication :-)

  7. So many people complaining about having abused a classic pocket-watch to make this when they didn’t even check the video..

    Project is just as nice now as it was 10 years ago, maybe even nicer today considering every manufacturer and diy-er these days tries to hide the electronics.

    1. Actually, most seem to support it, including me. Im wondering if anyone’s actually reading the comments…

      This kinda thing does bring out the purists as complainers, but most of us like this man

  8. Hello Pauline.

    I sure hope i get to hear from you again, since the email i’ve used to get in touch with you in the past, doesn’t seem to be in it’s working order anymore.

    Hope you’re doing alright!


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