For the vision impaired, timepiece options are scant. Timekeeping has been, for its entire history, something to be seen; reading anything, including the face of a watch, is a visual exercise. And so, the predominant option for those in need of a non-visual method has been cheap-looking wristwatches — sometimes sporty, sometimes dressy, almost always looking like a relic from the ’80s — that use a speaker to read the time aloud with the push of a button.
One can imagine how infantilizing an experience this creates. And of course, anyone prone to checking the time during dull conversations can likely see bigger problems.
The new Eone Bradley line of timepieces remedies every one of these issues with a design element watch nerds have always appreciated: touch. That love for the sturdy pusher and the snug screw-down crown is utilized here in a piece that eschews the traditional crystal, allowing wearers to keep time by touching raised steel, aluminum and titanium lines (depending on the model) on the dial that indicate hours. Two small ball bearings, one on the dial and one on the rim of the case, circumnavigate the timepiece, acting as minute and hour hands, respectively, all driven by a quartz movement. It’s discreet and intuitive — and it looks entirely unlike any timepiece before it.
Eone was one of Kickstarter’s top-funded design projects back in 2013, raising over half a million dollars. It speaks to both the demand for a product like this, and a prevalent belief in inclusivity. The company, which also donates a portion of proceeds to The Seeing Eye, was founded by MIT graduate Hyungsoo Kim and several fairly recent graduates from other programs and operates with an open design patent, bringing an open-source mentality to the typically guarded practice of watchmaking. With any luck, the young company’s success will send a message or two to the old guard: that there’s always a market for inclusivity, and that screens aren’t the only way to innovate.
Case Size: 40mm diameter; 11.5mm thick
Strap Options: Stainless steel mesh; Italian leather; canvas (with soft leather interior)
Case Material Options: Titanium, aluminum, stainless steel
Waterproofness: Splash-proof, but not submersible