Tokyoflash Japan

Tokyoflash Japan is the outfit behind the incredibly funky and somewhat geeky watches that I proudly wear on my wrist. Not content with using a clock face or digits, Tokyoflash have come up with an entire line of watches that use flashing LED’s to represent different units of time.

Confused yet? You will be when you see the pictures. These watches embody effortless Japanese design and style, epitomising the Japanese ability to think different and apply their innovation to what is considered a finished idea. The watch has come a long way, and just when you thought that nothing more could be done to it, these guys throw a spanner in the works.

The experience I’ve had with these Tokyoflash watches have made me realise that this is more than just an attempt at a revival and more than just a superficial cash-in on a fad or trend. Tokyoflash are defining a new market in the watch-making industry. However boring that may sound to most of us, we can already see its effect on pop culture. Nike, one of the biggest and most well known generation ‘now’ icons have taken the same concept behind Tokyoflash and used it in their Nike+ watch.

Is this the sign of things to come? I don’t think you or I believe that this is the revolution of the watch, more an evolutionary step that is carving a new niche in the watch market saturated with big bulky curves that look like blocks of plastic on your wrist. That’s why I tend not to wear a watch these days, they’ve become so full of nonsense that it doesn’t appeal to me.

Things have changed a lot since the days when I could play a game of mini-Mario Brothers on my watch (I had one of these when I was about six). Tokyoflash are showcasing a unique art form that blends precision time keeping with cosmetic appeal that normally draws a crowd from celebrities like Colin Farell or Brad and Angelina.

‘Barcode’ is my favourite of the two models I’m reviewing. Being completely alien to reading a watch in this unique way, it took a good 15 minutes to work out what the heck was going on. To a newcomer, the what-appears-to-be-random-flashing LEDs totally confuse you. That is until you read the manual. Yes, you read that correct. A manual comes with each of the watches since they all work in their own unique way, yet similar in terms of the concept.

The black cold metal has a feel of sturdiness and quality. You can tell before you even take it out of the box that this is a quality gadget that is built to be tough yet beautiful at the same time. I don’t quite understand why it’s called the ‘Barcode’ other than the design is made of lines. But this is the part I like most about it. The lines extend from the strap all the way to the display itself. So you get a consistent pattern that travels all around the watch and when it’s sitting happily on your wrist it looks more like a cool bracelet than a time keeping device. This is design like no other.

Barcode works by looking at each of the four columns and counting how many LEDs are lit up. Each column represents a multiple of hours and minutes and by adding these together you calculate the time. it’s tricky at first because the lights only stay on for a pre-determined time period so you either have to be quick at calculations or you’ve done it so many times that you’ve adjusted to the way it works. Personally, I relied on the latter. At first it was a bit of a struggle counting each square block. Once I got used to the counting you’re able to read it as quickly as a digital or analogue clock face.

The second Tokyoflash model I’ve been testing is called the 1259L. I found this one to be much easier to pick up first time round. Only three columns to deal with on this model. Hours are displayed 1 through 12 on the right side and then you have multiples of minutes on the two left columns. Again you have to push the button to see the time and then count the lights and pushing again will reveal the date modes.

Tokyoflash.com is where it’s happening and you’ll find a whole range of variations in watch designs. Make a geek happy this holiday season and get them a new watch to start 2008 with.

2007-12-14 Onwah Tsang

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