Out of all the clock designs out there, nothing screams more classic than the iconic Swiss Railway clock. Simple, stylish, elegant – a design so minimal that even Apple couldn’t resist adding to iOS 6 back in 2012.
I happened to see one the other day and while i was watching thinking how beautiful it is, that red circle on the second hand caught my eye. Me being me, i immediately starting thinking of all the possible reasons why the designer would have added that red circle in the first place.
Something was telling me that the story behind it was going to be an interesting one; an “I’m A Useless Info Junkie article worthy” one. So, i decided to have a look and apparently, i was right. (the article continues after the ad)
The trademark is held by SBB – the national railway company of Switzerland. It was designed in 1944 by Hans Hilfiker, a Zurich-born engineer who specifically made it as minimal as possible in order to help travellers check the time while being in a distance and hurrying to catch their train. At the time though, the clock didn’t have a second hand.
Hilfiker added the red second hand in 1953 and he chose to give it the shape of railway’s signaling disc; the train baton used by the station manager to announce to both the train conductors and the passengers that the train is about to depart:
And that’s not the only interesting and unique thing about this clock. You see, the second hand makes a full circle turn in 58 seconds and then waits for 2 seconds at 12 o’clock for the black minute hand to move onto the next minute. Here’s the clock in action:
And now you know!