It’s Time You Built A Smart Pocket Watch

There’s just something about a pocket watch that screams class compared to the barbaric act of bending your arm, or the no-fun way of looking at your phone.

But smartwatches are dumb, analog things that mostly look pretty. Or are they? [JGJMatt] proves otherwise with their stunning DIY smart pocket watch. It is essentially a cheap smart watch from Amazon stuffed into the shell of an old pocket watch, but you know it’s not quite that simple.

On the easier side of things, [JGJMatt] had to come up with a 3D-printed bracket to hold the smart watch’s guts. On the harder end of the spectrum, he ended up building the charging port into the crown, where the latch used to be.

This is a beautiful build for sure, and a great way to reuse something that might otherwise end up thrown away or melted down.

Looking for a cool alternative pocket watch that’s a little easier to build? Check out [JGJMatt]’s pocket sundial.

39 thoughts on “It’s Time You Built A Smart Pocket Watch

  1. Oh please. If there is indeed something that “screams class” about a pocket watch its an old one that still winds and tells time. Not a DRM-controlled digital analogue with slow IQ iconography.

    And yes, I know this is a hacker website – which I love. But next thing you know we’ll have a LCD based sliderule project with comments like “Oh, we hacked Keuffel and Esser! We so much smarter!” Please stop it.

      1. I could use a pint someone made. :P
        But a (touchscreen?) LCD emulation of a slide rule does seem a little funny to me, even if I can recognize the creative effort involved. It’d require more calculations to decide what to display than it’d actually calculate by so doing.
        Now if it did the calculations physically, even if electricity was involved… could be neat. Maybe a modified digital caliper type thing. I always thought the caliputer would be neat – it’s like a cross between the two. Alternative might be a circular slide rule on a rotary encoder, or maybe a stepper or whatever – the circular ones also remain useful even if you go out of range, so there might be neat curiosities you could make out of that.

          1. I must not understand why that is significant. Maybe it’s just me, but if it’s just images on a screen with no tactile movement of physical sections, isn’t it just a different version of a calculator app?

          1. You can, though you’ll be refreshing the display each time. I guess you can assume 0.1mm pixels on a display, but in order to tell that two lines are misaligned you need to be off by over half of that amount, so that it changes to the next line of pixels. By comparison, physical lines that you’re moving around can be aligned somewhat better than their own width until they’re so thin that it’s hard to see at all. I found a source that says the width of lines on a variety of slide rules under a microscope was a bit under 0.1mm, which is in the ballpark. However that source says that it had been tested that people’s eyes could tell when the scales of common slide rules were misaligned by as little as 0.02mm. That implies to me that you can align them to a similar amount. They refer to this surprising acuity as hyperacuity or the vernier effect. Verniers are also a way to quickly get even more precision from a physical object, but maybe you could also use that kind of indicator to make your display need to do less zooming. Especially since if your display is smaller than the rule you’re comparing to, you’re also going to start out at a disadvantage. If you’re willing to draw verniers, or do something else for precision, maybe it’d work alright after all.

    1. Don’t be a wet blanket. The author then says ‘compared to the barbaric act of bending your arm.’ How serious do you think this article is? Is it possible someone just made it for fun? Grow up.

    2. Seems pointless. If you got to reach in your pocket just to see the time. You might as well get out your phone since it’s technically a pocket watch. The point a wrist watch is to check your phone with little effort and for style. Not to hide in your damn pocket

  2. Nice project. The finish to the glass and 3d printed details are interesting to read.
    Worst part – the usual Hackaday lowlife commentards. It’s just embarrassing to have your project covered here these days.

  3. nice,the hack is more about the iconographic pose
    that goes with a pocket watch than a feat of
    miniturisation and multifunctionality that passes
    the event horison of utility,leaving us all wondering what to do next,which of course this hack answers
    by providing the prop nessescary for that moment of reflection followed by the decisive flourish involved with stowing the device and other acoutremant
    and if you realy mean business then there are cuffs
    to shoot,tie to adjust,and hat to set

    1. I wanted a smart pocketwatch for so long that I originally said I wanted a pocketwatch-shaped PDA. I cooled on the notion when I started carrying a cellphone, and gave it up entirely when I got a smartphone. I carried pocket watches for several years during my vested-goth-nerd phase (“Steampunk” as a fashion didn’t exist yet, but that’s as good a way to describe it as any.), and I sill love the form-factor. But, if I have to carry a phone anyway and I’m not wearing a vest to display it, I’ll just drag my smartphone out of my pants pocket when I need info.

      1. Time for a smart ‘nurses watch’ then? Those you pin to you clothes.
        Or just wear it on a string/chain round your neck, you can possibly find a popular music artist to wear it and give it traction.
        Personally I don’t like things round my wrist anyway, so it would make sense to me.

        I now seriously wonder what would happen if Tim Cook wore an apple watch in one of tthose atlernative ways on stage. Would it take off as a storm? Or would people shake their heads en masse? (Mind you; all the sensors would not work to do health data, that would be a bit of an issue)

  4. Next up will be a smart “compact” (ask your grandmom) that projects a clock face on your forehead (analog &/or digital!) so it can be read in the device’s mirror. Real reverse retro!

  5. For some time already I was wondering that if we have smart wrist watches, the logical but pointless next step should be smart pocket watches.
    But why stop here?
    Let’s continue. The world still needs:
    “smart” wall clocks,
    “smart” standing pendulum clocks
    “smart” alarm clocks
    “smart” calendars

    1. Smart wall clocks were done already.
      Smart alarm clocks probably too.
      And I would not be surprised I could get a smart calendar.

      Hell I think I even saw a smart sun-dial of sorts on HaD didn’t I? But HaD stuff doesn’t count, we are talking commercial offerings.

  6. hahah if you thought the article was boring wait until you get a load of this comment:

    i can’t wear a wristwatch, at least not with a rubber/plastic band. i pick at it with my fingers until it crumbles to pieces. in highschool, i tied string around a strapless wristwatch and used it like a pocket watch, or a necklace. in college, i had a ladies wristwatch in my pocket that my friend found on the side of the road, but when it succombed i went to walmart. i bought a quartz watch that was designed as a pocket watch but also came with a carabiner to hang it off your belt loop. i thought it was great that they were selling a purpose-built pocket watch in 2000.

    i owned it for about a month, when the 12 dots that were the only marking of the hours fell off. it had no other markings, so it was now a plain face with two hands spinning on it. it was arguably still usable but it developed a secondary fault and i tossed it.

    i haven’t owned a watch since. i’m pretty good at estimating the hour by counting how much i’ve accomplished since the last time i looked at a clock, a kind of temporal equivalent of measuring lumber with by the 9 inches between outstretched thumb and pinky. i’ve had a lot of practice.

    1. I’ve always liked pocket watches, they do feel classy. Wristwatches give you the silly tan line. I also tend to break them out of clumsiness.

      If I every dressed up anymore it would be neat to have a steampunk style smart watch.

  7. This reminds me of the time in the 70’s or 80’s when I toyed with the idea of putting digital guts in a standard pocket watch case. I never did and eventually they became commercially available. I wouldn’t be surprised if something like the watch in this article also shows up in the marketplace before long.

  8. EDITOR: I had to re-read the article and the comments to double-check, but when you said: “…But smartwatches are dumb, analog things…”, I think you meant “…But *pocketwatches are dumb, analog things…”. ;) (cute watch!)

  9. Just because you could do something doesn’t necessarily mean you should. I fully grasp the reason for wanting to make a smart pocket watch, however it would completely remove the functionality of the continuous biometric functionality native to the smart watch. So aesthetically it would be really cool, technologically you would be losing functionality you’ve paid for.

Leave a Reply

Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.