There are many ways to display time – by hands, numbers, colors, dots, squares and so on. But what about the way we think and talk about time? This idea represents this approach – transforming language into a graphical display.

The „time language“ is basically a simple one – there are hours and minutes. Additionally talking in English there are two more units – half and quarter. The exact time is stated by the minutes / quarter / half (as a duration) with its relative position to the hour unit. For example: 2 o´clock, 5 (minutes) past 2, 10 past 2, a quarter past 2, 20 past 2, 25 past 2, half past 2, 25 to 3, 20 to 3, a quarter to 3, 10 to 3, 5 to 3 (and finally as the next staring point 3 o´clock).

Watches using hands as a display method foot on a circular shape. Its starting point is 0°. This circle is subdivided into 12 units for each hour and 5 minutes iteration. Looking at such a watch we are trained to read the hours and the minutes by the angle between the 0 – position and the position of of the hour and minute hand. The latter also starts from the 0 – position, although the language states a duration relative to the hour. For example 10 past 5 is displayed on common watch by the hour hand a bit turned further beyond the 5 – unit and the minute hand turned to the 2 – unit. We can read that as we are used to this kind of display. Nevertheless – words tell another option.

This idea for the time display foots on this option – displaying a minute duration relatively to the hour hand. To simplify the time display (and to decelerate the daily routine) iterations of 5 mm are sufficient. So there are 12 steps we have to look at for each hour.

To display this according to the language the method of using (analog) hands has to be switched to a digital one. That might be for instance a display as used for smart watches. Another simple option is the LCD – display.

From that starting point the idea of transforming the spoken time into a graphical interface is quite simple – the hour hand keeps its position pointing to the hour unit according to the language. The minutes are transformed to a ring, divided into 12 segments. Its starting point is the tip of the hour hand. From that it stretches according to the language before or after the hour hands tip, its length is defined by 5 minutes iterations.


20 past 10

wrist watch silver

wrist watch black

wrist watch silver detail

wrist watch black detail

wrist watch bent silver

wrist watch bent black

wrist watch silver animation 10:00 - 11:00, English version

wrist watch black animation 10:00 - 11:00, German version

time display idea