Introducing the Hourglass by Pheidippides Watches

One of the great things about independent micro brands is that they are more free to try wild and unique designs. They don’t need to sell thousands of units in stores to make their bottom line, rather attract the interest of a few hundred customers or less (still hard, but less so). In recent years Kickstarter has been often the go to platform for such pieces, as the live trial by fire of pledges can quickly determine if a project is worth the risk or not. Today, we’re going to take a look at a new concept from a young brand that is unique and challenging, the Hourglass by Pheidippides Watches.


A quick glance at the Hourglass from above reveals a watch dial stripped down to its absolute bare minimum, rendered in a playful, almost computer-icon visual language. There is a surface on which you’ll find a single black rectangle with rounded sides. The surface is a pale pastel color, giving it a soft, friendly look. No indexes, no numerals… and presumably no hands. So, what’s going on? Well, the whole dial is a single hour hand, rotating at a near imperceptible rate.

One-handed watches are always a challenge. There is a certain minimalist appeal to the concept, but also a lack of accuracy and legibility. They aren’t for people who are fussy about the exact time. In fact the most precise, as in those with dials with many markings, usually allow for reading within 2.5 minutes of the exact. Most go for 5 – 15 minutes. By having no markers at all, the Hourglass gives more of a loose sense of the time… It’s around 3, it’s approaching 8, etc…


Or well, at least it would seem that way from above. The real unique aspect of the Hourglass is seen from the side. The dial isn’t a flat surface, rather it’s a cylinder with walls. The crystal, which is a sapphire, isn’t flat either, rather it’s a box that sits over and round the dial. At 6, looking between the lugs, you’ll then find an hour index with numerals and hash marks at intervals of 15 minutes. Presumably, what lines up between the lugs is the closest approximation of the actual hour.

So, what you really have is a watch made of a single, 3-dimensional rotating dial that sits within a sapphire box. Definitely very different and intriguing. The case itself measures 41mm in diameter with a thickness of 12mm. Most of the case is the sapphire, with a thinner metal chassis underneath from which the lugs protrude. At 41mm, it likely wears with a lot of presence, as it is literally all dial, though without seeing it in person this is hard to confirm.


The overall look is surprising. The use of pastels creates a feminine air to it, which is further enhanced by the use of bright colored straps. It’s not unappealing though, with the green and blue varieties certainly being unisex. I would love to see a simple white dial as well, as the starkness of that pairing would obviously work with the minimal layout. What really wins me over though is the sculptural aspects of the design. It’s a watch that is meant to be experienced at angles rather than the more typical top-down view. The views then change from super minimal above, to something more technical from the side.


Powering the Hourglass is an unexpected movement, the STP5-15. First, this is an automatic, which might take some by surprise given the design and unique time display. I wholly expected this to be powered by a high-torque quartz movement as turning that dial must require substantial strength, so I was pleasantly surprised by the mechanical insides. Second, this is the first watch we’ve seen outside of Fossil group to use an STP movement. These essentially 2824 clones have been used by Zodiac, Armani and Fossil itself, being a Fossil Group owned movement house. Seeing them being used by a small micro brand is exciting, as it means they are selling to third parties and could be a cool alternative movement for new brands.


In terms of fabrication, the Hourglass is not as simple as it looks. A box sapphire like that is clearly a very uncommon component, and the dial actually sits over and around the movement, so it’s not a normal part. Furthermore the metal case has been hardened. Pheidippides had to source fabricators and jewelry makers in Switzerland and Germany to make these custom pieces, resulting in a watch with a surprisingly high amount of hand craft involved.

The Hourglass will be available though kickstarter starting Saturday October 1st in a limited run of 300 200 pieces. The starting price €1195/$1340 for the first 100 early birds and €1295/$1450 for the next 100. The eventual price online will be €1495/$1675. Clearly not an inexpensive watch, but the cost is going to the unique case work. The Hourglass is without a doubt a very unique watch that will likely appeal to people looking for a novel interface or a clean, graphic design in a mechanical. The box sapphire steals the show for me, and I imagine looks very cool in person. But, it’s more the spirit of adventurous design that I like the most here. While it’s not a watch for everyone, Pheidippides is trying something new and trying to express a different vision of what a watch can be. For a micro brand, it’s great to see that something like this is possible.

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Zach is the Co-Founder and Executive Editor of Worn & Wound. Before diving headfirst into the world of watches, he spent his days as a product and graphic designer. Zach views watches as the perfect synergy of 2D and 3D design: the place where form, function, fashion and mechanical wonderment come together.
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