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OhGizmo Review: The Diode Watch

By David Ponce

The Saishin Diode watch from the good people at Tokyoflash doesn’t display the seconds. It doesn’t have a chronograph or an alarm. Nor does it tell you the date, temperature, humidity or any of a thousand things modern watches throw at you. And if any of this is a problem to you, then you’ve missed the point entirely.

With this watch, you pay for the privilege of wearing a conversation starter around the wrist. And let me tell you, in the three days since they sent it to me, I’ve started plenty of conversations with people I would never have had an excuse to talk to before. And yes, that does include a few from the opposite sex.

So, come inside for plenty of pictures of the hair on my arm, and the stainless steel wrist wonder wrapped ’round it.

Let me start by saying that not one picture does this watch any justice. It looks nice enough on the ‘puter screen, but when you take it out of the box, its sheer beauty hits you. Hard. The stainless steel case is polished to a mirror, and the bracelet is wide and solid. The watch is heavy, at 120grams, and feels good in the hand and on the wrist. The face measures 36mm by 36mm.

The clasping mechanism doesn’t snap like many such watches, but rather requires you to press two side buttons, making it effortless to remove. The face is glass (or crystal) and not plastic. It is flat, not curved. This better catches the light, if you ask me. The two operating buttons are located at the top, rather than on the side, thus preventing accidental use.

Now, you have to understand. The point of Tokyoflash watches is their unusual way to tell the time. It is never straightforward, and always cool. It usually involves bright LEDs and some sort of very original mechanism. Fortunately for me, the Diode watch is one of the easier ones to use.

So, what you do when you want to tell the time, is press on the button on top. The LEDs will light up in succession until they reach a certain point. They will pause there for a few seconds, then retract slowly. The top row represents the hours. The bottom 5 rows represent the minutes. There are twelve columns of each. The numbers at the bottom represent that amount of minutes only when the LEDs have completely filled up that column. In other words, let’s say, the top column is lit up to 4. You know it’s 4 something. Then, on the bottom, the LEDs go into the “20” column, two deep. Well, since it’s not all the way in, it’s not 4:20 yet. It’s three short. It’s 4:17.

Or, just look at this graph and see if it makes more sense than me.

Now, it’s actually easier than it seems. Sure, the first few times, I stared at it like a moron, trying to figure it out. I dreaded being asked the time in the street, because I would actually have had to say “Ok, hold on a second, let me figure it out.” However, with practice it became easier. A little like learning how to tell the time on a non-digital clock, without the minute indicators. Takes practice, but you figure it out. Three days later, I’m able to tell the time within three seconds, and have no doubt that within a week, I’ll be able to at a glance.

The LEDs are red, on an otherwise black face. This makes for a very striking effect, especially in the dark. They are very bright. I did however have to squint a little in bright sunlight to see them. Don’t get me wrong, I did see them without much trouble. It’s just that the faceplate is so smooth and shiny, it reflected a lot of stuff. I would have had similar trouble with pretty much any watch.

It is water resistant, meaning you shouldn’t take it in the shower or underwater and stuff. It wont die if it gets sprinkled a little, but don’t go dunking it for kicks.

The head of the watch is nice, and big. Maybe a little, tiny tad too big. If the company could shave maybe two millimeters, it would be nice. On the other hand, the size also adds to the appeal. You want people to notice this thing on your wrist. Matter of fact, I made sure to flash it around as much as possible. Maybe even to the point of looking a little stupid. You know, lifting my sleeves and checking the time ever five minutes. Putting my arm in an awkward position. I wanted people to ask.

And they did.

“Hey, what’s that thing on your watch?” “How does it work?” And such. It was fun. I obliged and explained, taking a little longer with the two girls who fell for it. Ha!

Didn’t get a number though, but chalk that up to be being a coward. The point is the watch is the epitome of geek chic. It’s manly, it’s made of stainless steel, it’s got LEDs, looks unusual and attention grabbing. It doesn’t just tell the time, it makes you decipher it.

I am, positively, in love.

The timepiece costs $150 and ships from Japan.

Right here. More at [Tokyoflash]