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The Bradley Watch

The timepiece you can “see” with your fingers as well as your eyes.

The Bradley, designed by Eone, was inspired by Bradley Snyder, who lost his sight in Afghanistan from an improvised explosive device (IED) but didn’t let that stop him from becoming a multi-gold medal winning swimmer in the 2012 Paralympics.

Unlike most watches on the market today, this one doesn’t only look good, it is designed so that everyone can read it, whether sighted or blind. Instead of traditional hands that indicate the hour and minute, The Bradley uses two ball bearings. The inner one on the face of the watch indicates the minute and the outer one along the edge of the case indicates the hour. Raised markers on the face enable easy sensing of the hour positions: a pointer at 12-o’clock, large textured bars at 3-, 6- and 9-o’clock, and small bars at the remaining positions.

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The design of the Bradley watch. Click for larger image. (Credit: Eone)

Many watches designed for use by the blind have a crystal that can be opened so that the hands can be felt. However, that leaves the delicate hands susceptible to damage and accidental alteration of the time. The Bradley uses magnets inside its titanium case to move the ball bearing indicators. As a result, there is nothing to break. If a ball is pushed out of the magnetic field of its underlying movement, it easily resets itself by a gentle shake of the watch. Clever.

So, why would a sighted person want a touch-friendly watch? Think about the last time you were at dinner with a group, in a meeting, or at a similar gathering where you needed to check the time but felt awkward about periodically looking at your watch or, worse, having to pull out your smartphone. The Bradley watch is the ultimate tool for discrete time monitoring.

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Watch bands in stainless steel mesh or yellow, green or blue fabric and leather. (Credit: Eone)

During the design phase of the watch, Eone found that blind users were as concerned with how The Bradley looked as they were with how it worked. As a result, every iteration included input from both sighted and visually impaired users to ensure that the watch provides the right combination of classic and modern aesthetics. In addition, several band styles and colors are available.

I was initially confused by one very important aspect of the design: the assignment of the hour and minute indicators. The minute hand on a traditional analog watch or clock is longer than the hour hand. Thus, my intuition assumed that the indicator on the face of the watch, being closer to the center, was for the current hour and the one on the outer edge of the case, being further from the center of the face, was the minute. I’m not sure why Eone did the reverse, but The Bradley would take me some getting used to in order to read it correctly.

If you want to help bring this uniquely-designed timepiece to market, there is currently a well-over funded Kickstarter project (over US $360,000 pledged of  its $40,000 goal) to get it out of prototype stage and into production. You can sponsor a single unit for a very reasonable US $128.

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