Solar-powered sundial wall clock concept offers a unique way to tell the time

Today’s clocks and watches seem to be split between mechanical analog and electronic digital designs, but there are more than two ways to tell the time. Of course, some of these methods are regarded to be inaccurate, error-prone, and at the mercy of the elements, but there’s a certain charm and magical feeling to the way our ancient ancestors tried to discern the time of day. The sundial is one of the oldest time-keeping tools, one that works on the presumption that the sun travels the same path every day of the year, which isn’t exactly the case. Still, it’s not an entirely incorrect method and it can easily be fixed with modern technology, like this sustainable wall clock concept that is powered by the sun in more ways than one.

Designer: Begüm Kılınç

A sundial works by simply observing the shadow that a stick or a tall thin object casts on a flat surface, a shadow that moves around and grows or shrinks as the sun makes its way through the sky. The sun doesn’t travel the exact same path all year round, however, and this method definitely doesn’t work at night. Modern technology, however, has a way to shine a light 24/7, and this wall clock uses that to recreate the almost mystical appearance of a sundial while utilizing energy from the very sun that inspired it.

Name after the Egyptian god of the sun, the Ra wall clock utilizes an LED ring light to simulate the sun. But rather than shining from all directions, the light is focused on a single point to recreate the effect of a short stick casting a very long shadow. As time moves, so does the light move around the periphery of the circle, thus mimicking a sundial but with more consistency and accuracy. Plus, it works at night as it does during the day.

While this would have been enough to create a modern sundial clock, the concept takes the association even further by also following how the sundial of old needed only the sun to function. Rather than relying on batteries, Ra uses solar power to make sure the clock is running 24/7 without the need to charge it or change batteries. The transparent solar panel that makes up the wall clock’s front cover actually harnesses any light around it, so the clock doesn’t need to actually be exposed to the sun and can be used indoors or under low-light environments.

This design helps give the sundial wall clock a sustainable potential, even if it does minimally use some electronics as well as LED lighting. Unlike analog clocks, there are now complex mechanisms that are difficult to repair, and unlike digital clocks, there are no screens or displays to show the time. It uses a very simple method that traces its roots back to ancient times, but one that still has benefits to the people of today.