My favorite gadgets are those which add a unique, unexpected twist to an
everyday object. The Time Technology
LED Binary Watch fits into this category perfectly!
The premise behind the watch is that to work out the time you look at a binary
pattern of lights. Binary is the system of numeration having 2 as its base, as
opposed to our decimal, or base 10, number system. Essentially, to work out the
time, you need to perform a conversion from base 2 to base 10 in your head. This
probably sounds a lot more difficult than it really is: all one really needs is
a basic ability to do mental arithmetic!
The watch comes in a choice of either red LEDs or blue LEDs. The casing for both
is the same. Although I really liked the fiery look of the red LEDs, the cold
electronic look of the blue LEDs won me over.
Image courtesy of ThinkGeek
The watch came nicely packaged in a tin gift box inside a black cardboard box.
The watch itself was well protected by a sponge, and the watch face had a
clear protective plastic sticker over it.
Also included in the package is an instruction leaflet explaining how to set the
time, and most importantly, how to read the watch!
The LED Binary Watch has an arguably very attractive circular design with a
solid stainless steel case and a black genuine leather band. The face of the
watch consists of a dark green circuit board upon which surface-mounted LEDs,
resistors and transistors are visible. The design of the watch face will appeal
to the "techie" crowd. The circuit board face itself is protected by mineral
crystal glass and the watch is rated waterproof to 3 atmospheres.
The watch has an overall design that I think would appeal to both males and
females. Despite being not overly large, the watch might be a bit big for those
with smaller wrists. Here, you can see the watch on my average male wrist.
Two buttons are located on the right side of the watch. The top button serves to
activate the LEDs for five seconds in order to tell the time, or to alter the
hours or minutes when the watch is in time-setting mode. This button serves to
put the watch into time-setting mode when held down for five seconds.
Image courtesy of ThinkGeek
The above diagram explains how to actually work out the time. As you can see, to
work out the time you only need to add up the numbers corresponding to the lit
LEDs on the top row to work out the hour. Although it is difficult to see in the
diagram, the number value of each LED is printed in tiny white lettering on the
circuit board above each LED. This means that you do not have to remember the
value of each LED to work out the time. You follow the same process to work out
the minutes using the bottom row of LEDs.
One thing to note is that the watch only tells the time in 12-hour format: to
tell the time in 24-hour format would have required more LEDs in the top row (5
instead of 4), and nor is there an AM/PM indicator. Also absent is any
indication of the date, or seconds.
So how does the LED Binary Watch fare in everyday life? Having to do some mental
arithmetic to work out the time is a bit of an obstacle, particularly if one is
in a hurry or not in a 100% frame of mind (well, quick mental arithmetic has
never been my forte – your mileage may vary).
I have had lots of comments and questions from curious onlookers who have seen
me using the watch. Most people react with a "I cannot believe you have a binary
watch!" (read "YOU ARE A NERD") attitude, but I know that they are secretly
jealous. If nothing else, it is a good conversation starter. A bonus is that the
watch can be used to provide a little light to darkened stairs, rooms or to help
one to see where a keyhole is located. This of course depends upon the number of
LEDs which are lit, and hence depends upon the time!
In the last two months I have owned the watch, it has proved very durable. The
mineral crystal watch face is impressively scratch resistant; much more than the
stainless steel case. My watch case has a few small scratches from contact with
other metallic objects. If you want to keep yours pristine, do not hastily put
your watch into the same pocket as a set of keys!
Also, the factory-installed battery (the watch uses 1x CR2032 battery) shows no
sign of weakening despite my frequent usage of about five viewings a day.
I was somewhat saddened to realize that this watch wasn’t going to teach me to
recognize binary patterns, as this was one of my aims in purchasing this watch.
After two months, I can still only work out the time by adding up the numbers!
Maybe Time Technology could come out with a model without the numbers printed
above the LEDs. Admittedly, I would probably be the only person in the world to
buy that watch.
In summary, if you are looking for a watch that will get you some attention, are
more concerned with form over function and do not mind troubling yourself a bit
to work out the time, then this watch could be for you!
Price: $69.99 (available from
Unique and interesting
Can be used as a handy light
Could be a little too large for those with small wrists
Lack of seconds, date, AM/PM indicators or 24 hour mode
May be hard to read accurately in a hurry
Doesn’t teach recognition of binary patterns. 😉