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Ring Clock – Or Rather ‘Ring Watch’ – Review

Ring Clock – Or Rather 'Ring Watch' – Review Wrist Time Reviews

The category we use for our review posts is “Wrist Time Reviews.” That, for one, is because when we review something, we do not just go hands-on with it and call it a review, but spend actual time (at least a week, but generally quite a bit longer) wearing the timepiece on our wrist. Secondly, “wrist time” made sense for our wrist watch reviews – however, today we are looking at a very novel, dare I say, “futuristic” timepiece. Called the Ring Clock, this LED-based, battery-powered watch does what it says on the cover, and allows you to wear a piece of jewelry that tells the time. From concept to reality, let’s see how it fares in a review coming from a guy who’s never liked or worn any jewelry – admittedly apart from some diamond-set watches at trade shows when given the chance.

Ring Clock – Or Rather 'Ring Watch' – Review Wrist Time Reviews

Prologue

First, some prologue and a quick look into the dreamworld of cool-looking new concepts. Day after day, all the core aBlogtoWatch team members receive numerous emails and “press alerts” (a term I hate with a passion), redirecting us to Kickstarter and Indiegogo campaigns designed to raise funds to finance what we’ll just call enthusiastic concepts. And while we’d love to bring all of these fascinating ideas to your attention, we simply cannot do that, for we want to show you only a curated selection of interesting and actually plausible projects.

So, with all these inquiries in mind, when I received an email – written in my mother tongue – from a fellow Hungarian, asking if we’d be interested in checking out their Ring Clock, I really didn’t know what to expect. I checked out their rather impressive computer-generated images, and after seeing what appeared to be a 22nd century device – a ring with tiny, unrealistically sharp, laser-etched numerals and ice cool blue lights – my first response to him was: “Sure, how close to completion is it?” To my surprise, he replied: “Oh, we’ve already made a few thousand.”

“…A few thousand?” Well, soon enough we set up a meeting, and I had a chance to have a first-hand experience with a working Ring Clock.

Ring Clock – Or Rather 'Ring Watch' – Review Wrist Time Reviews

The Basics

The Ring Clock is – wait for it! – a ring, like pretty much any other, albeit it is a bit taller and a little bit thicker. It is composed of two key elements, an inner belt that is fixed in the sense that it does not rotate around your finger, and an external ring frame that carries all the numerals and spins around the internal, fixed belt. It indicates the time with LEDs and cut-out indices set on three tiers. The top being a 24-hour indicator, below it you find the minutes, and at the lowest level are the small squares for the seconds.

The external shell with all the numerals can be spun freely and easily, with little, nicely weighted resistance (the easiest way to achieve this when you wear the ring on your ring finger is to reach across with your thumb). The reason it spins is because that is how the LEDs are triggered – more on that a bit later.

Ring Clock – Or Rather 'Ring Watch' – Review Wrist Time Reviews

The Concept

The Ring Clock was designed by Gusztav Szikszai in 2011 for a challenge at CGSociety.org named Moving Innovation. The idea was to create visualization for a product that could not have existed then, but could exist 10 years on. Gusztav says: “I wanted to create something that is innovative, good to look at, and can actually be useful. I never wore a watch on my wrist because I don’t like the feeling, but I like watches in general, so I used that opportunity to let my mind come up with something that I could wear, the Ring Clock.” That is a clear and honest summary of the inspiration, and could also indicate a larger segment of future buyers of the product. Having a sleek idea is one thing; realizing it is where the real challenges lie – and where so many of these ideas die.

Ring Clock – Or Rather 'Ring Watch' – Review Wrist Time Reviews

Banality alert: devices that do a lot for what they are and yet look simple and work in a user-friendly way are often novel and highly complex on the inside – this is one of the key factors that gained Apple its current status, for example… And the Ring Clock is another good one. It looks so simple, I could see how many couldn’t tell it was different to a normal ring in any way until they have inspected it more closely. However, the amount of time in research, engineering, and finding the best suppliers (and often modifying their delivered parts to suit the special spacial and functional requirements) that have gone into the Ring Clock is mind-boggling. Yet, the end result of all their efforts is a remarkably small, compact device that harnesses some of the most modern technologies – including one scarcely found even in the latest and greatest consumer electronics.

Ring Clock – Or Rather 'Ring Watch' – Review Wrist Time Reviews

The Ring Clock is unique in the sense that it is a spec’d up version of a perfectly everyday item that has been around for literally ages. Having worn it for a couple of weeks – even at BaselWorld during a number of meetings – and shown it to watch industry insiders as well as friends and relatives not at all into watches and jewelry, I have seen two basic types of reactions. One, and there were rather few of these, were that of the unimpressed – but I guess they are just simply not as tech savvy as I and my fellow watch enthusiasts and nerds are. Second, and this is the group where I belonged when I first saw the Ring Clock, was that of a mix between awe, disbelief, and great fascination in how they got it to work. Interestingly, the most frequently heard first remark by far was how light it is compared to what they were expecting based on its looks. Second stage is discovering how it works.

Ring Clock – Or Rather 'Ring Watch' – Review Wrist Time Reviews

How Does It Work?

If you counted them all, you’d find that inside there are 168 LEDs – which are either colored ice blue or orange, depending on the version you get – connected to a specially and very cleverly modified printed circuitry. The funny thing is that basically all components inside the Ring Clock have been modified by the engineers here in Hungary: the circuitry and the way it has been coated and bent to the shape of the ring, the way the LEDs are connected to the single control unit, the way the battery is curved and charged, and so on.

Ring Clock – Or Rather 'Ring Watch' – Review Wrist Time Reviews

The lights are, of course, not always on. As I said, the outer frame has to be spun for the watch to indicate the time. It has two sensors installed, so the maximum rotation necessary for the LEDs to come on is one half – if the notch on the outer edge is closer to the sensor then it will take less. To be more energy efficient, the Ring Clock’s processor checks once every two seconds to see if the sensors have detected movement – so the absolute most you ever have to wait after rotating the ring is a bit less than 2 seconds. The LEDs then remain turned on for 15 seconds, or 5 when the battery is low on juice. The lights are bright and can be perfectly seen in even in a very well lit, bright room – outdoors under direct sunlight, you better cast a shadow over it with your other hand or else it will be difficult to find the lit numerals.

Ring Clock – Or Rather 'Ring Watch' – Review Wrist Time Reviews

Other than under direct sunlight, though, it is amply bright, and indoors in a normal light or, especially in a more under-lit setting, the bright blue becomes immediately apparent and just looks downright stunning. Also, bear in mind the fact that no one can be used to seeing such a ubiquitous accessory, and especially one so small, to be glowing so bright. It is quite a spectacle when one makes hand gestures with the ring on and lit up.

Ring Clock – Or Rather 'Ring Watch' – Review Wrist Time Reviews

Reading the time can be tricky in the sense that the full periphery of the circle carries numerals, so sometimes rotating the ring in a way that shows you the actual time may be necessary. Fortunately, there is a setting where not only the actual minute marker, but all previous ones down to the last larger one divisible by 5 light up – this makes it considerably easier to find the minute indication. I have made a suggestion to the developers that, if possible, they may want to create a quick animation, where once the lights are required to come on, the LEDs would cycle from 12:00:01 to the actual time – this way one would just need to track the lights, making it easier to find the rough location where the activated indications are.

About the Author

David Bredan (abtw_david) is a young watch enthusiast based in Budapest, Hungary. He is dedicated to understanding, revealing and discussing as many aspects of fine watch making as possible. Fascinated by the countless admirable details of haute horlogerie, he strives to discover the challenges linked to the manufacturing of fine timepieces and also those related to chronometrical performance. As much as he loves unfolding the mysteries of mechanical timepieces, he also aspires to successfully capture and share the nuances that separate a fine watch and a masterpiece.
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Comments

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  • Cool enough, but I still think the usefulness would be increased if you did not have to rotate the ring to get the display aligned to be read. I’d be happy with a number of 7 segment displays (like old LED watches and calculators) so the display could always be facing up. Maybe just 2 display which display the hours, then the minutes after a second, followed by the seconds. A touch (capacitance based) on a certain spot would light it up. And if it had solar charging, so much the better. Surface hardened titanium would be great too in order to make it even lighter.

    As is, a ring watch I have to manipulate is in the same category as smart watches which don’t have always-on displays – not something I can glace at touch free. Thanks for the review David. Interesting tech and product design. I hope they keep on innovating in this space.

  • Ulysses31

    It’s quite a feat of manufacturing. Impressive and novel, though I think they could have done a better job of making the lighting of the elements more diffused and even. As it stands, you can easily make out the tiny LED as a bright-spot behind each cut-out, which harms legibility, similar to what you see in certain cheaper LED illuminated keyboards. It’s fairly cheap for what it offers. With some further refinement, I think i’d like it even more although nothing beats the convenience of a wrist watch, and seeing you wearing both at the same time seemed rather curious.

    • I wonder how much of that issue with the LEDs is just the camera – I know from experience that trying to get photos of bright lights to look the same as they do to my eyes is an exercise in futility most of the time.

      • David Bredan

        Exactly, as Andy points out, it is more of an issue with photography than with the product – the LEDs are very bright and the guys have actually engineered diffusing layers into the ring, so the light does perfectly fill up the cutouts. I tried my best with the photography, but LEDs truly are tricky to capture, because they are just so bright, even when so small.

      • Ulysses31

        It could be that. I would expect some degree of roughening applied, or perhaps a diffusing film layer to ensure the light “filled in” the whole numeral, but that would sacrifice about a quarter of the brightness, and this device has limited power to work with so maybe it was a deliberate design choice.

        • David Bredan

          Good point, but Andy is spot on with his comment: it is more of an issue with photography than it is with the product. The Ring Clock guys have actually engineered a diffusing layer onto the LEDs, so “hands-on” the light perfectly fills up the cut-outs. The issue here was that the LEDs are so bright that they were difficult to capture, but in all instances the light appears perfectly diffused to the naked eye.

    • David Bredan

      Not sure if you’ve seen those, but if posted two replies so far and both appear to be gone (terrible wifi here on my travels keep playing games). In short, the guys at Ring Clock did engineer a diffuser layer onto the LEDs, so the light perfectly and evenly fills the cut-outs — as Andy pointed out, digital photography sees these super bright LEDs rather differently, but trust me these work great when seen live:)

    • egznyc

      Right – it’s a bit of belt and suspenders. Unless one likes the ring enough on aesthetic grounds alone.

  • MEddie90

    Pretty cool little gadget though my main worry would be that the thickness would get in the way of using my hands. I’d also worry about the durability as its in an area where its going to get knocked about and regularly submerged in water.

    Seems like a novel way of telling the time but tbh i’d rather ditch the seconds ring as it adds more bulk but i cant imagine it being that useful. Either that or have a day of the week indicator in its place.

    Cool concept indeed, may have to actually try one on for size.

    • David Bredan

      Water resistance is taken care of, rated to 30meters but the brand says you can also swim with it (but no diving, of course). As for the bulk, I think it is a matter of personal preference – I have never worn a ring and found it to be pretty much OK, although it did take some time getting used to. The ring is in 316L steel, so I presume it should repolish the same way as watch cases do – but it yeah, like most rings, it will of course take a fair amount of bumps and scratches in every day use.

  • Josh Graves

    Very interesting and innovative. You did a great job explaining the engineering behind this piece. The price is shockingly low for a gadget likr this.

  • Rupert Muller

    If you would really wear it regularly over a longer period, I wonder if the small lasered numbers wouldn’t get clogged with dirt. I could imagine they would be quite cumbersome to clean, especially the small squares for the second.
    And I personally would prefer a date wheel instead of the seconds.
    But apart from that, a refreshing concept!

  • This is pretty nifty, especially at that price point. Here’s hoping the manufacturers don’t realize that watch enthusiasts most likely have straps at home that cost more than this entire unit, and subsequently refrain from exploiting us 🙂

    Also, “I have never worn a ring in my life and probably won’t – until absolutely necessary.”

    When would it ever be “necessary” to wear a ring? Planning on an induction into the Green Lantern Corps?

    • David Bredan

      Or getting married, I suppose?

    • MEddie90

      He could possibly operate like the phantom so any enemy he punches is embossed with his emblem. In this case they would be imprinted with the current time.

    • kpjimmy

      I’m assuming he’s referring to having a wedding ring as a necessary time to wear one.

      • egznyc

        Exactly 😉

  • word-merchant

    Fantastic! One of the most interesting new time pieces I’ve seen for a good while so thanks ABTW for this. I really like the honest explanation of its genesis too: not ‘inspired’ by pilots or motorsports, not in ‘homage’ to a celebrity, no stupid marketing BS, but just that it was a cool challenge, and that there are a lot of people who don’t like wearing watches who might really like this. There are a lot of watch wearers who would too.

    I wish the folk at Ring Clock all the best for this one, and if I can get one shipped to the UK, I’m very tempted.

  • iamcalledryan

    Wierd! It’s way to big, do without the seconds and it might not look awkwardly huge, but it sure is ‘t my cup of tea!

  • It’s all fine and dandy until someone (an evil overlord perhaps) makes another ring to rule them all…

  • BNABOD

    Can I be your ring leader? The pic w the lipstick is creepy just sayin

    • DanW94

      Right about the lipstick – that imagery is not exactly subtle. Hard to believe it wasn’t intentional….lol

  • DanW94

    Cool concept but it’s just to big to be worn inconspicuously. I’m afraid you’d be answering to many questions, “Why are you wearing a 3/4 inch socket on your finger?” or “Do you always carry your bike lock on your hand?”

  • SuperStrapper

    Neat idea, but the execution could use a little refinement. It looks quite bulky to wear. And why would I wear it, and a mechanical watch? For maximum redundancy (considering the phone is thrown in for good measure). Or is this aimed at the ultra wide and deep segment of travellers that need access to multiple timezones in different and somewhat awkward formats.

  • Raymond Wilkie

    Nonsense.

  • Luke S

    I’m glad they decided to call it Ring Clock and not the other way around as it would have caused some awkward misunderstandings.

    “Hello, customer service?… Sir, you put your Clock Ring WHERE?!?… No, that is not it’s advertised use!”

  • WINKS

    A Clock Ring… Hmmmm

    • iamcalledryan

      NEVER Google it

  • pkansa

    Color me envious that you got to check these out – I’ve been interestedly following their progress with all of the ups and downs they’ve had in manufacturing.

  • Juan-Antonio Garcia

    WOW!, loved the picture with the cell phone, three devices to tell you the time. The wristwatch, the ring and the phone. A little overkill, but then again, wanna be’s fashion has never been about practicality.

    • Martin Cerny

      Yeap, best comment so far..! Just want to add. If they make it thinner and add the function of a smart watch like Apple, they hit it..! unless this will not happen, it can also be used as a knuckle duster.

  • Beefalope

    That doesn’t look gimmicky or uncomfortable at all.

    • Raymond Wilkie

      Do i note a hint of sarcasm in your voice ?

      • Beefalope

        How dare you? I’m shocked, appalled and, frankly, a little bit hurt. (Sniff, sniff)

    • egznyc

      Well to be fair, nearly all new technologies – or at least their applications – require some further refinement before they’re going to appeal to most other than the die-hard fans.

  • Marius

    The only ring I would be willing to wear is my bespoke Damiani ring. It’s made from black gold and platinum, and was commissioned at the Via dei Condotti boutique. This clock ring is way too big and chuncky. Despite what this ad…I mean article says, I’m not entirely convinced that this ring is very comfortable to wear. Of course, if this brand could make a ring clock from hardened steel, featuring a triptick case resistant to 5,000 Vickers, then I might change my mind.

  • TechUser2011

    I am shocked that fans of 200-year-old technology are making negative comments below about new technology they don’t understand.

    • iamcalledryan

      From what I have read, certainly from my own perspective, this products’s mixed reactions have nothing to do with technological ignorance. First, this is a ring rather than a watch so would need to be particularly impressive to capture the emotion of a watch enthusiast. Second, the ring is very large compared to the rings that most men wear. Third, it is doing a worse job of telling the time than the watch located 3 inches away. As David points out in the review, the ring often needs to be pivoted in order to see the lit numeral. Technology has nothing to do with this failing to capture my enthusiasm, usefulness and aesthetics are stumbling blocks that it fails to overcome before I even need to spend time learning about what marvels lie beneath it.

      If you think about it, should you really be shocked as to why fans of mechanical watches are turning their nose up at an electronic ring-clock?

      Finally, if you think these comments are unusually negative I am quite sure you haven’t been here long enough. There are chaps here whose autocorrect has entirely forgotten words like ‘like’ or ‘great’.

  • James Havens

    I think this was a great article, and reflected value via David’s feedback on how the time display would be better engaged when activated. This is forward thinking in design and concept, very cool and I think will appeal to a lot of people. Even for those who won’t pick one up, it can be appreciated for what it is. I could easily see this used as a prop in a movie and then so many WIS would want one, true story…..

  • JimBob

    I think you guys are missing the point. This is a spinner ring that happens to have an LED clock display on it. It’s cool.

  • ZBT71

    Alas, there is no date window!

  • Larry Holmack

    I am juust totally shocked that they are making them large enough to fit my ring finger!!!! Not often someone makes a ring in a size 15!!! As for the size…not too bad in my book…but then again…you ought to see how bulky my college ring is….it’s rather large to say the least. Oh…size 15…you can easily fit a quarter through any of my rings!!

  • Berndt Norten

    One ring to fool them all….

  • Michael Kinney

    That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen. And sheesh…ten graphs in before we get to “how it works.” Kinda buried the lead there.

    • David Bredan

      Ten graphs to explain something totally new and never before reviewed here (or any other watch site). I’ve added the headings so you can scroll through and jump to the segment you want.

  • bergey

    I’d wear it, except it looks much too thick to the point where it must be uncomfortable. Understandable, considering its function and the necessity of a battery, but still.

  • Yojimbo

    $295? yeah……………….no

  • Tim Mai

    Awesome concept. I want it if it was $ 100. BTW what watch is the woman wearing. I want that too ?

    • bakoglumgit

      i’d like to know, too!

    • bakoglumgit

      i think it’s the Citizen Nb1031-53l with a different band – do watch people make fun of a diver’s watch with a leather band?

  • FrankD51

    As I was reading the article I was trying to gauge what the price point was going to be. I was settling in on the $1000 range considering everything packed in the product. So $295 was a surprise….I would consider that a fair price for something like this. Nice to see something totally different yet useful.

  • egznyc

    They could consider a special his and hers edition where it counts the seconds, minutes, hours, etc. from the wedding ceremony. So you’ll know ar the very least when an anniversary is coming.

  • Adam Young

    This seems pretty cool. The price isn’t bad for something with lots of custom pieces as well. I would like to see one with just hours and minutes as it would be a bit big for me to wear as is.

    • JackJones3

      Exactly. If you want to measure seconds, surely you will pull your phone out of your pocket and use the built-in stopwatch. What were they thinking?

  • B W Wooster

    Really not my cup of tea, but I find the idea cool, and also the design is cool. I sent this link to a friend, who by the way never had Heard of ABTW :-O, and he will order one, so soon I will get handson with it.

  • Roman

    A thing from a man who: “I never wore a watch on my wrist because I don’t like the feeling.” That sums it all.