Over the last few months, Suzuki Kango has been hard at work on a project that would take most of us a lifetime. For his senior thesis at Tohoku University of Art and Design, the 22 year old created “Plock,” a fully mechanical wooden clock with a unique twist. The clockwork by itself is impressive, since clockmaking is a painstaking blend of mathematical and physical engineering. But this design’s genius is in its display: the wooden clock writes the time, each minute of the day.
Every minute on the minute, the clock’s face tips back, goes blank, and rights itself. Then delicate wooden arms draw the new hour and minute onto the face. The name “Plock” is a portmanteau of Plot, for its delicate scribing action, and Clock, for its obvious function. Though many of the mechanical workings were formed using CAD, the core of the clock’s design–the writing portion–was largely thought up whole cloth by Kango. The student (not shockingly a member of Japan’s MENSA) had to design and build a prototype before his professors fully understood what he wanted to attempt.
The clock uses 407 wooden parts, powered by four brass weights. The form was inspired by traditional automatons, whose delicate machinery produced charming results, but whose workings were traditionally hidden. The Plock design makes its complicated machinery both visible and beautiful. Meanwhile the writing surface and arms take some inspiration from Etch-a-sketchy magnetic displays. The clock design went viral after Kango posted a short video of it in motion to his personal Twitter. Though he acknowledges the difficulty of the project, he was surprised at the outpouring of interest, since his post had been intended for friends and family.