Confuse Time, All The Time, Every Time

If you live in the land of confusion, lemme confuse you more!
Designer Johan Bisse Mattsson is testing my limits as a writer and yours as a reader. Let’s see if you can comprehend this: A clock, where the Second’s Hand rotates from the tip of the Minute’s Hand. The Minute’s Hand rotates from the tip of the Hour’s Hand. Confused? I know I am…so give it up for Einstein here and head over to the Hand in Hand Clock webpage, where you can experience this mesmerizing design first hand.

Currently the Hand in Hand Clock is implemented as a software solution. Drag the hands to change the time and zoom in and out by using your scroll wheel.

Designer: Johan Bisse Mattsson


  • designcomps says:

    would be very expensive to develop due to the additional weight that the minute hand and second hand puts onto the hour hand.

    • yoyoMan says:

      Maybe just make them shorter, also different materials for the base and diff for the other hands to compensate for the weight.

      • its not the hands but the actuators that drive the hands. One way would be microprocessor driven stepper motors, but the steppers are far from light. This is a engineering nightmare.

  • bonny says:

    This is awesome! I can’t believe nobody thought of this before!

  • oriondesign says:

    Oh no, an engineering nightmare! Well, shucks, back to the drawing board. Or, wait, maybe we could, you know, try and come up with a solution? Or something.

    Maybe the thing is rigged with a series of gears and belts on the underside of the hands. They wouldn’t need to be cast iron, lightweight plastic or nylon would be fine. For every 1/60th of a turn for the hour hand, the minute hand is geared to make one complete revolution, etc.

    Would that work? Not sure, but the point is that going “oh, that would be hard” or “that would be expensive” without looking past one iteration of the design and mechanics isn’t terribly productive. I say give us a prototype 🙂

    • So lets build a prototype oriondesign, and I will give you the gearing. So lets say you have pinon gear of 6 teeth (about as small as good practice would allow), you need the other gear to have 3600 teeth so even if your pinion is only 1/16″ the other gear is huge (pi times diameter = circumference)at 3.6″. Now we have to hide all that and have a belt drive (cog or friction don’t matter as the ratio’s are the same)with some idlers to hide the belt. We have the same problem with the minuet had as the second hand. See its easy to say “come up with a solution” and wave a magic wand, different matter when design has to move from the computer to the real world.

  • Henrique Staino says:

    I can, indeed, be an engineering nightmare, but that it’s interesting, nobody can deny!

    • Pikachu says:

      I am not denying at all. 😀
      the thing is very interesting. Complicated, albeit.

  • Noah says:

    so bad it is software i can find a way to make it mechanical even a wrist watch with one motor but it will not be reliable like other watches

  • On the prototype notion, if took the gearing and hid that all below the face plate you would need a double stack of drive belts with idlers. It would require at the minimum 2 motors (3 would be better and simpler, one for the direct drive hour and one for the minuet and seconds hand. In the end it would be real messy and very inaccurate with all the belt slippage.

  • oriondesign says:

    Fair enough, then scrap the gears and try something else. The point was that this isn’t such an impossible design that a working solution is completely out of the question.

    If it was calling for each hand to be levitating or something, then I’d be right there in the “cool but really impractical to build” camp, but I don’t think that’s the case here, it just might take an out-of-the-box solution (on a design blog?! God forbid!)

    Hell, there was a post a few weeks ago showcasing a shapeshifting waterfall clock (–don’t tell me THIS is too outlandish to pull off.

    • The waterfall clock ( is a working pre production prototype, not a computer simulation…….very different (and more difficult)critter. Show your chops orion, give me your pratical solution, I gave you 2 of mine.

      • oriondesign says:

        You’ve missed the point. Twice. I don’t honestly care what the optimum solution is, the POINT was that just because the traditional methods don’t apply doesn’t mean there ISN’T a solution and the product is an “engineering nightmare.”

        The phantomwater prototype was brought up because, as you pointed out, it’s a more difficult critter, and I think certainly qualifies as more of a “nightmare” than this, and yet a solution was found and it was made to work.

        And for the record, you haven’t given two practical solutions, you’ve named two different mechanical arrangements and told us why they wouldn’t work, which isn’t quite “practical” or a “solution.” I never said I had a prefect answer, because I don’t. What I am saying is that I believe there IS an answer to be had, and that I believe it worth Mr. Mattsson’s time to pursue.

    • Hawkeye says:

      Actually, you could combine the two and project the Hand-In-Hand-Clock on a waterfall ……

  • Noah says:

    🙂 it could be mechnical with half a motor 5mm thicknes 40 mm dia and transparent and cheap ready for production not prototyping no gearing no belts no stepers or servos , but the proplem is the basic concept isn’t mine.

  • VoReason says:

    Screw the real deal –however, I think it could be done with some clever thinking– I want this as my desktop back ground in white on black.

  • Kevin Lou says:

    Who would need that? It’s like a constantly moving piece of art.

    • OfficerMike says:

      I beg to differ. I plan on designing and building my own unique wooden clock toward the end of my summer. It’s going to be an engineering and woodworking exercise, with something (hopefully) nice to show for it in the end. Even in the digital age, some people still have a weak spot for mechanical masterpieces, and others for art.

  • Christopher Bragg says:

    I actually think it’s quite sharp. I would consider buying a secondhand-less version. It would be a smaller size, but would still maintain the cool factor.

  • michaelwiggins says:

    I think the only problem with this is that the rotating gear for the minute hand is attached to the hour hand and the gear for the rotating second hand is attached to the minute hand, so as the hour hand or minute hand moves the the right, then the minute and second hands (respectively) rotate slightly more to the right than they should.

    That is assuming the second hand is actually timed to rotate 360 degrees in 60 seconds, in relation to the minute hand. May need to be calibrated… I dunno.

    • Noah says:

      simply the angular velocity of the faster-the slower=the right angular velocity

  • rt_100 says:

    gyroscopes / accelerometers maybe? I feel like it would constantly have to adjust for which way is currently up, relative to each hand. I sense a microprocessor controlled clock?

  • clock_lover says:

    here is a working model 🙂


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