Co.Design

Daniel Weil's Stunningly Elegant Custom Clocks

Sotheby's in London presents an unprecedented look at the Pentagram partner's obsession with time.

Pentagram is such a colossal force in the design world, that it’s easy to forget that the consultancy is a constellation of only 16 partners, each a bright star on their own. Daniel Weil is a good case in point: He’s an architect, industrial designer, and art director who’s done everything from packaging Pet Shop Boys albums to designing retail spaces for the British brand Boots. Oh, and he’s got a sideline designing clocks, a significant sampling of which are now on view at Sotheby’s in London.

Making Time includes two radically different collections from Weil: His 1994 Time for All series, all enclosed in rustic wooden cabinets, and the brand-new A Matter of Time clocks, which are constructed from sleek nickel-plated brass and steel. Both are on sale for the first time.

The third category consists of Weil’s one-of-a-kind private commissions. Some elements are common to all--Weil places the quartz movement at the center and positions the dial in three-dimensional spaces as opposed to against a wall--but each is geared to its owner’s occupation: Clock for an Acrobat is a poetic take on movement and balance; Clock for an Architect is a machine assembled according to an architect’s logic, complete with spirit level and measure; Clock for an Astronomer features a satellite; and Clock for a Card Player, the newest, takes inspiration from Cezanne’s Card Players series.

All of the pieces speak to Weil’s fascination with technology and conceptual notions of time. “Objects like clocks are both prosaic and profound,” Weil says. “Prosaic because of their ubiquity in everyday life, profound because of the mysterious nature of time itself. Time can be reduced to hours, minutes, and seconds, just as a clock can be reduced to its component parts. This doesn’t explain time, but in a way simply exposes its mysterious essence.”

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