Chunky, eye-catching, and unashamedly retro, these watches from tech startup NIWA use the gentle glow of tiny Nixie tubes to tell the time.
Once a vital part of the 20th century’s first counting machines, Nixie tubes are small glass vials, usually filled with a gas such as neon. A wire-mesh anode wraps around the inside of each tube, while different cathodes shaped like numbers or other symbols sit in the centre. When electricity runs through one of the cathodes, it gives off a gentle orange light — making a particular number or symbol light up.
But while Nixie tubes are no longer needed in the lab, they’re being snapped up by others to use as statement style pieces.
Founded by Belarus’ Dzianis Obukhau alongside designers Alexander Avramenko and Vladimir Bludov, NIWA created a scaled-down Nixie tube that could comfortably fit on the wrist. Now the company has a long list of eager fans ready to capture the steampunk aesthetic, paying between $480-750 for different models. The company also produces a line of Nixie tube clocks.
“The tubes produce no noise or heat, use very little energy, and are the most beautiful way of displaying the time,” says the team.
To find out more about the project, click here.