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  • 07.08.13

Time To Get A New Clock? This One Slows Down And Messes With Your Head

For those who are always wanting more hours in the day, this wall clock may make you careful what you wish for.

A long weekend is a precious thing. Looking back on it now–from the unpopular Monday after July 4–you’re probably wondering how it all went by so quickly. The Slow Clock won’t stop time, but it might make it last a little longer.

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Designed by Factil and Mercè Núñez, the prototype recalibrates timekeeping, challenging our constant race against the clock in the slow shuffle toward becoming a slower, more sensitive society.


The face of the Slow Clock is etched not with 12-, but with 24-hour markers. Only one hand passes over these markers, and it completes only one rotation a day. “Just like the Earth,” Óscar Pérez, one-third of Factil, tells Co.Design giving clockwatchers “a more calm and relaxed image of the speed of time,” than the default dual-hand, a.m.-and-p.m. model.

What’s fascinating is how unexpectedly jarring the absence of a minutes hand is–you only miss it once it’s gone. Plus, it might have never been that important anyway. “We usually do not use minutes as a unit in our day-to-day activities,” Perez reasons, explaining that people are inclined to keep time in rational multiples of five or 10 or even 15 minutes. “Who has ever made an appointment at 19:37?” he asks. The timekeeping units of the Slow Clock should really feel more, rather than less, in sync with the way we wrap our heads around our schedules: It measures time in intervals of five minutes, with 12 ticks separating each one-hour marker from the next.

A built-in wind-up mechanism and pendulum at the bottom of the clock propel the hand across the surface of the face. The pendulum’s constant swing–in contrast to the slow, deliberate 24-hour cycle of the clockhand–presents an interesting visual dichotomy of extremes.


Beyond functionality, the design tackles larger societal issues drawn from the Slow Movement, a key theme of which is time and our recording of it. Success, in a sense, is measured by an ability to stop the clock.

In the last two decades, the core tenets of the Slow Movement have infiltrated many areas of modern culture–and arguably get more urgent as an intervention all the time. Caught up in an endless stream of news, media, and products, daily life easily becomes blurred. Slow Design, in particular, reframes the role of the design in society; the slow designer works to simplify tasks and draw attention to small, everyday experiences.

Even so, the aim of the Slow Clock, Perez says, is not “to praise slowness per se, but to question the relevance of time.” In that vein, the team was keen on investigating the benefits of both speed and languor, all in one device: “Slowness is clearly represented though the single hand, while velocity is shown through the pendulum.”

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It’s a simple mechanical contradiction that highlights a fascinating human one: how different people, depending on their mood and perception and what they’re engaged in doing, can register identical blocks of time in entirely different ways. The goal of the Slow Clock, then, is really to keep time with both the caprice of real-world events and the quirks of individual perception.

About the author

Sammy is a writer, designer, and ice cream maker based in New York. He once lived in China before being an editor at Architizer.

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