Sunday, August 22, 2010

Most Complicated Clock Ever

"I think, therefore I am. Those are the words (in French) inked in quill by the world’s first literate robot, assembled in 1774 from some 600 components by Swiss watchmaker Pierre Jaquet-Droz. And while Marie Antoinette appreciated its philosophical sense of humor, the humanoid automaton ran afoul of the Catholic Inquisition. Accused of heresy, the machine — fashionably accoutred in silk pantaloons and a velvet jacket — spent several months in a Spanish prison.

How’s a modern mecha to compete with that kind of history? Execs at Jaquet-Droz — now a luxury watch brand owned by Swatch Group — have the answer: Double the number of parts and quadruple the ambition. Rather than retracing the past by writing the same stock phrase as its ancestor, the new automaton harnesses an unprecedented level of mechanical complexity to … write the time on a piece of paper.

It’s harder than it sounds, and it took the better part of a decade to combine Swiss-quality timekeeping with the ability to write 1,440 different numeric phrases “by hand.” But now, when the assemblage is triggered, 1,530 steel and aluminum components, including 50 cams, 9 belts, 120 bearings, and 27 springs, launch into Rube Goldberg-like action.

Video embedded below.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Like what you read; Subscribe/Fan/Follow