Home > Design, Things I Like... > The Swiss Railway Clock

The Swiss Railway Clock

September 8, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

Another design classic. The Swiss Railway clock.

This Iconic piece of design was created in the early 1940’s by engineer and designer Hans Hilfiker (1901-93), who at that time was an SBB (Swiss Federal Railways) employee. The SBB wanted a clock that would not only guarantee the smooth running of the trains, but would become part of their national image.

The clock face is simple and strong and there are no numbers, the minutes being denoted by black lines on the white face. The hour and minute hands are also black. Against this black and white background the red second hand stands out. It was nicknamed the “rote Kelle” or “red signal” because of the red disc at the end of it, mimicking the hand-held signal which the station manager used to wave to tell the driver the train could leave.

The red hand, which pauses for 1.5 seconds when it reaches the top of the minute, is clearly visible at a distance, and is synonymous with Swiss punctuality.

We have two at home: a large one on the kitchen wall and a wrist watch, both of which I got from Saas Fee, a snowboard resort in Switzerland, and both of which are always pleasing to look at.

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