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'Tick Tock': The Hodinkee Cock, I mean Clock...

This week has been somewhat controversial for the world of watch geekdom. It started three weeks ago when the photo below was uploaded to the Hodinkee Instagram account, and as you can imagine it ensued a debate about what cool new Hodinkee collaboration was in the works. Whilst some big independent names were thrown around along with my thought of a potential Apple Watch LE (following Hodinkee's recent news that they are now an AD for Apple Watches), I do not think a single person saw this release coming... As you can imagine it split the community into two. Some thought this was a cool facet of horology that is dying out and not many brands at all explore and ,as a result, praised Hodinkee for their quirky idea. However, the vast majority thought this was a completely ridiculous release. This article will leave you with an appreciation for my opinion, so let us dive in.

Photo Credit: Instagram/Hodinkee


What Hodinkee has released is an 8-day travel clock. To give you some context lets take a brief look at this piece of horological history. The first 'modern' travel clock was made in 1787 by Levi Hutchins in Concord, New Hampshire. However this was not a mass-produced item, in fact, he only made one for himself. It also only rang at 4 am, so Levi could wake himself up for work. Fast forward 60 years and a Frenchman by the name of Antoine Redier registered the first patent for an adjustable mechanical alarm clock. Alarm clocks then became a stable for the jet-setter, who wanted to be able to arrive in any location or country and still be able to have a bedside clock that could tell them the time, as well as when to get out of bed.


Alarm clocks, along with most domestic products, ceased production in the US in the Spring of 1942, with clock manufactures being tasked with making equipment for the war. However, the halted production of alarm clocks had military implications. The shortage of alarm clocks, which was furthered by the breakages and wearing down of older clocks, means that workers were either late for, or missed entire shifts in jobs that played a crucial role in the War effort. In an arrangement overseen by the Office of Price Administration, a number of clock companies were given permission to resume the manufacturing of alarm clocks. This agreement meant that alarm clocks were the first post-war consumer goods to be made before the war had even ended.


Some examples of travel and alarm clocks from over the years...


In the years following, alarm clocks were continued to be made, whilst technological advancements, such as the rise of quartz watches, and watches like the JLC Memovox, meant that the technology of an alarm clock was quickly replaced by alarms that could be worn on the wrist. However, the practicality of having a large clockface that could be taken anywhere and set up on a bedside table, meant that their popularity continued.


Photo Credit: Reddit & Analog Shift...


Whilst table clocks, such as the JLC atmos clock remain popular, non-wristwatch clocks have seen a gradual decline in popularity. However, with the trend of 'vintage' goods such as record players and Instamax cameras seeing a resurgence, I do think this has contributed, in part, to this new release.


The Legendary JLC Atmos Clock... Photo Credit: Hodinkee

"At its simplest, the HODINKEE Eight-Day Travel Clock is a manually wound mechanical clock with an eight-day power reserve and alarm functionality. The clock is easily portable, and its compact dimensions allow it to fit in the palm of a hand, in the pocket of a jacket, stowed away discreetly in an attaché or messenger bag, or at your bedside right at home." Hodinkee

The clock itself has been made entirely from PVD coated Steel. This, in my humble opinion, gives the clock a very industrial, modern, and almost Bauhaus feel. Something Hodinkee admits in their article, and I agree with, is this. This clock, despite at its heart being at travel clock, most likely will have a permanent spot on your desk or maybe mantlepiece. This to me means that the design of it needed to be spot on, and not look like a cheap plastic Phillips travel clocks of yesteryear. However, I must say, aesthetically, this is a very attractive little clock.

Photo Credit: Hodinkee


The clocks, as mentioned above, feature a manually wound, 8-day power reserve movement with an alarm function. The movement inside is a vintage movement from a now-defunct manufacturer called Pontifa. Pontifa, founded in 1850, produced everything from pocket watches to dashboard clocks. However, it specialised specifically in 8-day travel clocks, which makes it a perfect fit for the heart of this clock. The movements for these 96 clocks were discovered in 'practically new-old-stock condition'. How NOS they actually were is up to interpretation, and whilst it is difficult to tell, I wouldn't be surprised if there was some tidying-up shall we say, before they were cased.


Whilst the movement might be vintage, it is important to note that they have been meticulously worked on to ensure that they match the modern exterior, and will last as long as a modern clock movement. I must admit I do like the charm of a vintage movement cased in a PVD steel housing with other modern touches such as Superluminova in the hands. Aesthetically this almost seems like the Panerai of clocks.


The only gripe I have aesthetically, and this is something that a few other friends within the community have also raised, is the branding. Whilst I completely understand that this is a Hodinkee lead product and not a true collaboration like they are famous for, they are using movements from a very well regarded, all be it no longer operational, brand. If they had put Pontifa on the dial, or even double signed it and got Hodinkee on the dial as well, the appeal of this piece would go through the roof. Whilst this is, of course, a very subtle comment, the fact of the matter is that the name on the dial means a hell of a lot. And whilst this has great appeal to the wannabe Benny C's of the world, to the vast majority of watch nerds, this subtle co-branding would have done a hell of a lot for how this watch has been received.


Now, whilst you can make up your own mind as to which camp you fall into with regards to your thoughts on this piece, I feel like what I am going to tell you about it next may help sway you off one side of the fence. The price. Considering the '100% Swiss Made' construction (Lorry full of salt needed there I think) the fact that only 96 movements have been found does mean that these are fairly exclusive. Priced at $5,900 ( £4,500), there are not going to be many people out there who would buy one of these over a luxury watch. The price, you will be shocked to hear, is the main reason why Hodinkee have had to disable comments on the Instagram post for this release. People are understandable annoyed at the frankly ridiculous sum of money for what is effectively a horological 'object d'art'. And I agree with them. At £1,500/£2,000, it would still be expensive for what it is, do not get me wrong. But I feel given this piece boasts b construction and the NOS vintage movement, it would be more justifiable. But how Hodinkee has managed to make $500,000 in less than a day now that they're all sold out is beyond me.


This piece is purely for the absolute Hodinkee fanboys, and whilst it is a cool thing, I really do think they have missed the mark on this one...


Felix Arnold

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