Nov.18, 2014 | By Alec

With the advent of smartwatches, 3D printed or mass-produced by Apple, it might be a good idea to take a moment and think about what a watch is all about. In its heart, it's all about telling the time, and staying true to that principle might not be such a terrible idea. At least, that is the message Instructable user gkapriel is trying to convey with his gorgeous collection of 3D printable watches that, far more than any smartwatch, are conversation pieces as well.

And unlike smartwatches or smartphones, you won't have to provide these with power every 24 hours. In fact, they don't need batteries, Wi-Fi or constant updates. They feature a truly classic design and are so retro even your grandparents can't remember them: the Sundial Watch. It's the original smartwatch, a tried and true way to tell the time and all it requires is stepping out your door. And what's more, gkapriel has provided the necessary files and steps to 3D print your own. You can find those on his Instructables page here.

Of course, sundials have been used for millennia, and feature a number of different designs. Basic dials go back to the 13th century B.C. Mediterranean, while more complex and gorgeously-designed pieces were still fashionable 350 years ago.

But unlike those designs, gkapriel's sundial watch can be worn on your wrist, and feature a number of different designs: the Classic, the Sport, the Adventurer and the Traveller. All of them, however, are just very cool and are designed to help you escape 'digital time', and 'the anxiety created by the constant seconds ticking away your day. The Sundial Watch focuses your attention on light and shadow, developing a relationship with the sun and a more fluid perception of time.'

Unsurprisingly, the hardest part, in designing these cool watches was the design phase. Sundials need to be made with exact digital precision, and include a compass inlay that will help you orient to the north, which will make reading the watch a bit easier.

Wherever you are, sundials need to be customized to suit your exact location. Therefore each watch needs to be specifically made to suit your geographic coordinates, which requires adjusting the gnomon (the little pillar that casts the shadow) and angle of the hours. The only exception to this is the Traveller, which is a diptych sundial (a dial featuring two components attached by a string acting as a gnomon). To properly adjust your own watch when printing, follow gkapriel's steps provided here and take a look at this guide for making a sundial.

Now gkapriel created his stylish line of watches using a Stratasys Objet 3D printer, which obviously prints in resin. The black and white colors used in this project are Vero White and Tango Black. It did, however, require a bit of post-printing work, as the prints needed to be cleaned off by hand and with a high-powered water machine.

This 3D printing technology allowed him to achieve the necessary level of detail and accuracy to create functional sundials. While this could theoretically be achieved with FDM 3D printing technology as well, it might be best to stick to gkapriel's steps to make sure the result is up to the standard. After all, the STL files provided alongside the tutorial are also designed with resin in mind.

For many of us, this will mean employing a print-on-demand service, like that of Shapeways. While this means creating your own sundial watch costs a few bucks, you are more than handsomely compensated with a gorgeous, unique and stylish sundial watch. Why ever rely on batteries again?

For more on the Sundial Watch, check out this brief clip:

Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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