Seiko creates insanely complex machine that does very little, beautifully
Watchmaking may seem like the ultimate in humorless efficiency, but Seiko has created an extremely complicated machine that does one very silly task beautifully. The centerpiece of a three-minute video, the "Art of Time" takes watch parts and turns them into a playful mechanical cityscape that recalls the Rube Goldberg or Heath Robinson contraptions of the last century – or possibly the boardgame Mouse Trap.
Based on Seiko Holdings Corporation Group's slogan, "Seiko. Moving ahead. Touching hearts," Art of Time features a song written by Seiko CEO Shinji Hattori with lyrics based on submissions by employees and sung by Etsuko Yakushimaru. According to the company, the idea behind the machine harkens back to the days when timepieces were rare and bells and musical complications were needed to remind people in the vicinity of the time, which Seiko calls the "art with no form."
The device itself is a maze of watch parts, watchmaking tools, figurines, and rolling rubies of the sort used to make watch bearings. With an occasional nudge from helpers to provide scale and retain the human element, the device rolls a series of ruby balls along tracks, through hoops made of movement cases, obstacle courses or spiralling counterweights, and across rockers that power an animated beating heart symbol until, finally, the machine reaches the end of its journey and lifts a tiny glass dome to reveal a balance wheel, which a Seiko technician installs in a watch. The camera then pans back and up to reveal the tiny mechanical town forms the hands of a huge watch-like table.
Seiko says that the machine took 1,200 parts and over a year to create while filming consumed 70 hours to get the right take.
You can check out the Art of Time video and how it was made below.