Cifra 3 Digital Clock

Gino Valle (1960)

You have had to be there: At an airport, waiting to pick someone up, listening to the clicking sound of the flipping mechanical numbers of the big display, long before flat LED screen would take over this task with grace, but without the sound announcing the updating of the data. This clock represented the modernity of the digital age – while still being hooked up to an ‘analog’ mechanical clockwork which would chrun its little wheel continuously, analog to the continuous advancement of time. The little flipping plates were held back by tiny levers, and only when the roll carrying all 24 plates on the left and 60 on the right had advanced so far that they would fall free, the new time number would show.  The Italian designer housed this technological marvel in a plastic cylinder, with another cylinder in the back containing the battery. He was wise enough to ask another famous designer, Massimo Vignelli, later of New York’s metro map fame, to choose the perfect typeface for its display.

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