If he wore a digital wristwatch, the Grim Reaper might very well strap a Tikker around his sepulchral radiocarpal. Ebon and unadorned, the Tikker tells more than just the time. It tells you the time you have left.
Currently raising funds on Kickstarter, the Tikker is the creation of Fredrik Colting, a Swedish publishing creative who found himself staring blankly at the prospect of death after his grandfather passed away. An atheist, Colting did not see death as a voyage, a liberation, or a reward. Instead, he saw only obliteration.
“My grandfather’s death made me think about the transience of life,” says Colting. Death will inevitably make us forget even ourselves. “I realized that nothing matters when you are dead. The only thing that matters is what we do when we are alive.”
The Tikker is probably best described as a reminder of mortality that you wear on your wrist. Although the watch tells time well enough, it contrasts the hours of the day with a countdown to your death, calculated based on data like age, activity, BMI, and where you live. In other words, the Tikker takes data about you and then compares it to the average life expectancy of people in your demographic.
Once that number has been set, the countdown begins: Every second of the day that passes on the Tikker’s face is subtracted from your life-expectancy until you either beat the odds (one way or another) or keel over and die. The idea sounds morbid, but Colting’s motivations are hardly ghoulish. Rather, Colting’s hope is that by putting the time of a person’s unavoidable death right on their wrists, they will have a deeper appreciation of the life they are living.
“We’ve all heard about people who come close to dying through accident or disease, and come out of their near-death experience with a new appreciation for life,” says Colting. “They tend not to sweat the small stuff anymore, because they have learned that life is something that is precious. If the Tikker helps even one person do that, I would be happy.”
The Tikker is less about death than about contrast. Like a galaxy, the seething luminance of life itself might fill our eyes with brightness, but it’s only when we zoom out and put it against the black backdrop of oblivion that its detail can be seen, or the place of our own sun can be seen in its structure. “Life isn’t about having more time, it’s about appreciating the time you have,” says Colting. The Tikker is a little piece of death that you wear on your wrist, and maybe that’s all you need to make you feel more alive.