After researching how time can be shown in uncommon ways, German artist Felix Vorreiter decided to make his own unique timepiece using string. His method, which some people said would be impossible to build, involves a long rope with a sequence of black rings painted on it. The “encoded” cord loops around bearings to form five lines, which come together once a minute to display the time.

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To properly paint the string, Vorreiter wrote a script in Adobe Illustrator to generate a mask, which was then printed on self-adhesive foil and applied as a template. Even with help, it took over a day to paint. The rope is long enough to keep time for about 120 minutes. According to Vorreiter, it would take about .7 miles of rope to display all 1,440 minutes in a day.

 

To run the clock, a custom Arduino-based board controls a stepper motor that pulls the rope to the appropriate position. Contacts embedded inside of the string help align everything, and when it’s running, the encoded cord advances once per second like a traditional clock.