To the timepiece layman such as myself, most wristwatches are bland, uninspiring tools that do one job. They do that one job extremely well, of course, but they all – with the exception of innovative watches from companies such as TokyoFlash – meld into one inglorious whole. They do exactly the same thing, and do it in exactly the same way. Which all conspires to make it very easy for the Division Furtive Type 50 to stand out from the crowd.
The Type 50 from Division Furtive operates using two banks of white LEDs, the top row keeping track of the hours, the bottom row keeping track of the minutes. The relevant LEDs flash to indicate the time, with the display only lighting up when you flick your wrist. This preserves battery life, which means the single AAA battery that powers the Type 50 lasts for up to two years.
Why is the Type 50 powered by a standard AAA battery? Because Gabriel Ménard, the man behind Canadian company Division Furtive, seeks to create watches "immune to obsolescence." Using such a common battery that can easily be replaced by the owner is one way of achieving that goal. Some of the design sensibilities of the Type 50 can also be explained away by the desire to create a timepiece that is "not wearable technology, but a technological art form."
The Design Furtive Type 50 has no buttons, relying instead on the user tapping the screen to scroll between functions. The time is set rather differently than on most watches ... Design Furtive's website emits light pulses which set the time on the Type 50 when it's held up to the screen of your smartphone, tablet, or computer. The whole operation takes approximately 10 seconds.
Functions other than keeping the time include a calendar, travel time (for both east and west), a chronometer, and a flashlight mode which illuminates all of LEDs at the same time. The face of the watch is 50 mm (1.97 inches) in diameter, and 16 mm (0.63 in) thick, while the whole thing weighs in at 115 grams (4.06 oz). The strap is made from a mix of silicone and leather, with the face boasting brass, stainless steel, and zinc elements.
Design Furtive is currently crowdfunding the Type 50 through Kickstarter, with a pledge of CAD$295 (about US$263) being rewarded with one of the 1,000 units (hopefully) being produced. The video below shows the Type 50 in action, as well as showing Ménard talking briefly about what drove him to create such a unique timepiece.