All posts in “time”

This three-axis tourbillon movement is a 3D printed marvel

The three-axis tourbillon is one of the most complex watch complications in the world. Originally based on a design by watchmaker Abraham-Louis Breguet, this type of tourbillon – literally “whirlwind” – rotates the balance wheel of a watch in order to ensure that gravity doesn’t adversely affect any part of the watch. It’s a clever, complex, and essentially useless complication in an era of atomic clocks and nano materials but darn if it isn’t cool-looking.

Based on this original, simpler model, this new three-axis tourbillon is available for download here. It consists of 70 potentially fiddly parts and runs using a basic motor.

As you can see, the main component is the balance wheel which flips back and forth to drive the watch. The balance wheel is contained inside a sort of spike-shaped cage that rotates on multiple axes. The balance wheel controls the speed of the spin and often these devices are used as second hands on more complex – and more expensive – tourbillon watches. Tourbillons were originally intended to increase watch accuracy when they were riding in a vest pocket, the thinking being that gravity would pull down a watch’s balance wheel differently when it was vertical as compared to being horizontal. In this case, the wheel takes into account all possible positions leading to a delightful bit of horological overkill.

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Sega to release Mega Drive Mini this year

Just like Nintendo before it, Sega is releasing a mini version of its iconic Mega Drive game system. The system is supposed to be available sometime in 2018 and the company also announced at least 15 classic Sega games will hit the Switch this summer to celebrate the system’s 30th anniversary.

Sega turned to AtGames to build the hardware according to this Facebook post. AtGames had previously built the shoddy Sega Genesis Flashback so hopefully this system will be better than that version. Nintendo paid attention to the details in its retro systems and it showed. The mini NES and SNES are lovely throwbacks that bring the best of past to the present — I just wish the controllers had longer cords.

Growing up I had an SNES because my parents thought Sega games were too violent. Basically, Killer Instinct instead of Mortal Kombat. I hope I can handle Scorpion’s finishing moves now.

If that’s not enough nostalgia, Sega Ages series producer Kagasei Shimomura hints Sega Dreamcast games could also hit the Switch, which if happens, could bring Phantasy Star Online or Jet Set Radio to Nintendo’s system.

Also, Bryce, our all-star illustrator, didn’t know the Genesis was called Mega Drive outside of North America. He can’t be alone.

Bell & Ross creates a transparent tourbillon

It’s spring and that means it’s time for Basel, the definitive international watch show. Around this time every year all of your favorite brands – and brands you’ve never heard of – launch unique timepieces that cost more than a few dozen Honda Accords and look like something made by Doctor Manhattan during one of his less melancholy moments.

Today’s wild timepiece comes to use from Bell & Ross, makers of big square watches that look like aircraft dials. This new piece, called the BR-X1-Skeleton-Tourbillon-Sapphire, maintains the traditional B&R shape but is almost completely clear with a case made of sapphire and held together by pins and screws. The movement, which comes in three colors, is a complete hand-wound tourbillon system and is beautifully visible from all angles.

A tourbillon, for the uninitiated, is a system for rotating the watch’s balance wheel 360 degrees. This system, originally created by Breguet, ensured that a watch didn’t slow down when subjected to odd gravitational forces. Now, however, it’s a wildly expensive conversation starter.

This is a beautiful update to B&R’s original see-through watch and, while the vast majority of us will never own something like this, it’s nice to know that someone still cares about horological complexity paired with wild design. How much does it cost to own the watch equivalent of Wonder Woman’s Invisible Jet? About $500,000. The piece, for those interested in picking one up, will be available online.

Nintendo will revive the NES Classic and continue selling the SNES Classic in 2018


Good news for old skool Nintendo enthusiasts — the company has said it will revive the NES Classic Edition next year, and it plans to continue selling the SNES Classic in 2018, too.

The company originally killed off the hit NES Classic Edition with an announcement in April and it had also said that the SNES version, which went up for pre-sale last month, would not live beyond this year. But an announcement made today — hat tip The Verge — reversed both stances.

The NES system was a surprise hit last year, but Nintendo confirmed that the SNES version has been even more popular — selling more on launch day in August than the NES sold in the whole of last year. As a result, more SNES Classics will be put up for sale this year.

That appetite for the retro systems is what has ultimately changed Nintendo’s mind, it seems.

“Fans have shown their unbridled enthusiasm for these Classic Edition systems, so Nintendo is working to put many more of them on store shelves,” the Japanese tech giant said.

Two new handhelds will help you relive the golden age of gaming

Whether you’re an older gamer who remembers the Atari 2600 and Sega Genesis with great fondness or a doting grandparent who doesn’t remember exactly what the grandkids wanted (the Nintendo Swamp or something?), the new AtGames portable consoles will either excite you to no end or cause deep disappointment.

These crazy little consoles contain dozens of Atari or Genesis games. The Atari version includes more than 70 games, including Pac-Man, Dig Dug, Pitfall and Frogger. The Ultimate Portable Game Player supports SD card side-loading of games and includes 85 Sega Genesis and Mega Drive games, including Phantasy Star.

AtGames has been making these things for a while, but for the first time the systems support HD video and can connect to your TV via HDMI. Further, the new portables include more games. The new models will appear next month and cost a measly $60.

I’ve tried the “console-style” versions of these games, including the new “Atari Flashback 8 Gold Activision Edition,” which features 29 Activision games, and I found myself quite pleased with the speed, quality and fun. Arguably you can hop on Alibaba and get a PSP-looking retro gaming handheld that plays all of these games and more, but if you’re looking for something quick, dirty and fun (or if you want to disappoint the 14-year-old in your life who wants to play these games like she wants a hole in the head), give them a try. There’s nothing like the pixelated Tarzan yell of Pitfall Harry to bring tears to eyes of a gamer of a certain age.