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Making The World’s Thinnest Watch

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Making The World’s Thinnest Watch
The world's thinnest watches assembled
The world’s thinnest watches assembled

Dave Vondle and Jerry O’Leary are making the world’s thinnest watch. I’ve enjoyed watching this project unfold from day 1. Actually, I’ve been watching this project unfold well before that. Dave was my summer intern in 2004. Working with smart, talented interns is always a joy, but every once in a while someone comes along who is truly gifted. I learned so much more from Dave that summer than he learned from me, and I continue to learn from him. Dave moved on to IDEO after college, and was one of the people behind IDEO Labs. It was there that Dave honed his skills as a talented maker who skillfully combines engineering, design, and aesthetic to make some great new devices like this watch.

Thinnest Measured
The world’s thinnest watch measures 800 microns thin.

This is a really really thin watch. Having seen them in person, it is hard to believe that they contain a battery, microcontroller, display, all mounted on a stainless steel carrier. Making the thinnest watch in the world was not easy. If it was, lots of other people would have already done it. Fortunately, Dave Vondle has written an extensive story about what it took to make this on the IDEO Labs blog, where you can see the full details of the process.

The individual components are rather impressive before they’ve been assembled, including the super thin battery from Thinergy. Dave and Jerry have opened an interesting door into thin, body-worn electronics. I can think of all sorts of cool devices like wireless pulse sensors or glucose monitors that could be made vanishingly thin using the lessons learned from this project. This is a great step forward for thin computing! If their nearly complete Kickstarter campaign is any indication, they will be making a lot of watches!

Watch Parts
Thin watch disassembled: steel band, watch electronics, and overlay.

Dave’s work has always been innovative, but not always so beautiful. As a special treat only for MAKE readers, I’ll share with you the fun project that got Dave hired as my intern. He rigged up an animal skeleton with actuators to make an animal-robot hybrid. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it, but I knew I wanted to work with the kid who built it!

David Vondle, Talented Maker
David Vondle’s skeleton-robot hybrid.

16 thoughts on “Making The World’s Thinnest Watch

  1. Frank says:

    A really neat idea, but it feels like it would be incredibly awkward to read it when it’s on the wrist? It’s turned the wrong way, you’d have to move the hand away from you to see it straight. Wouldn’t it have been ever so much smarter to make the display smaller and put it the traditional way? Cause… there’s a reason watches are like that?

    I hate it when style over purpose kills cool stuff like that.

    1. t-bird says:

      Since I wear watches on the inside of my wrist, this watch would be even easier for me to read.

  2. Jim Jordan says:

    Personally, I could read it either way, but then I was trained to read backwards and upside down. ( Mold maker )
    How about a display on the inside of the wrist like the Gruen Curvex drivers watches of the early 20th century.

    Though I would rather see a design with the time on the inside of the wrist ala

  3. James Brohard says:

    where do I buy one?

    1. no says:

      kickstarter, though it isn’t technically buying it. The kickstarter is linked in the article. It’s $130.

  4. Wayne says:

    I proudly read this article because it had no slideshow. Keep up the good work!

  5. Jaden Gani says:

    It is a really neat idea and will go far. My favorite one was the white one in front of the others. These are also great because they are very trendy.

  6. anwar says:

    I want buy 2 watches. Black.
    Please advise how to get

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Kipp Bradford is a technology consultant and entrepreneur with a passion for making things. He is the Senior Design Engineer and Lecturer in Engineering at Brown University, where he teaches several engineering design and entrepreneurship courses. Kipp is also on the Technical Advisory Board for Make Magazine.

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