Here we are again for the third time! You’ll know from my previous post about making Ellen Ripley’s watch from Alien, that I originally intended to make (and later did) Amanda Ripley’s watch from Alien Isolation.
Well, someone saw that watch on a photo and asked me to sell them one. Which is why you can now buy them from our shop. The one I made for myself was a bit of a prototype in many ways, so in order to make a watch I was happy to sell to other people I needed to polish some of the rough edges off (both literally and metaphorically).
Redesigning the redesign.
Since it’s a working watch, I wanted it to be durable and functional as well as actually looking as much like the game watch as possible. By this point I’d been wearing my prototype of the watch for a couple of weeks and I knew a couple of things needed improving, and I’d also realised where I needed to focus my attention in terms of the build quality.
As you should know by now 3D printing leaves visible banding on the printed edges, it’s an unavoidable side-effect of the process. You can sand them down with some effort but I’d never really got the finish I was happy with for something that you look at frequently – like a watch face. There was also a couple of minor niggles with the overall construction, I’d taken a couple of shortcuts to get the look right and compromised the long-term quality and functionality a little bit – these things needed fixing on a production model too.
Changing of the Guard.
It was time to finally look into using ABS. For various reasons I’d stuck with PLA for most of my builds and I do still use it for prototyping, but for the finished quality ABS is king. It took some doing, but I was finally able to get good prints with it, and they were a little finer that anything I’d got with PLA. The important part of using ABS is that you can sand it to a very nice finish, you can also use a technique called vapour polishing which is fantastic for creating a smooth uniform surface. I ended up not using on the watches because they have some extremely thin parts which isn’t great for vapour polishing, but the ability to sand the edges down to create a much smoother surface really helped me get closer to the look I wanted.
I took a pass on the face graphics and spruced them up slightly and altered the Casio logo to the Samani E-125 that you see on the Sevastopol posters, and I revisited the little loop that joins the two faces together. My prototype watch was joined with a thin strip of printed plastic, that worked for a couple of weeks but after repeated wear it actually snapped. I replaced that on the production models with a dense EVA foam that can take a lot of torque – ideal since these watches are pretty bulky and they can catch on things fairly easily.
Next I addressed the strap. Overall it worked great, the double loop with velcro fastening was comfortable, easy to wear and adjustable, but the prototype was sized exactly for me. I had to make a couple of minor adjustments so that it could be worn by people with different sized wrists just as comfortably.
The plastic I used to cover the face graphic and LCD panel was a little on the thin side, if you accidentally knocked it it tended to bow in quite easily. I sourced a slightly thicker version for the production model to help combat this.
Finally one of the things that annoyed me most needed to be fixed. These watches have sound, they have an alarm and hourly beeps if you want that, and because of the way I needed to attach the strap connectors to the back I’d had to loop elastic strips through the back-plate – which meant the speaker couldn’t play the sounds. It’s a small thing, but I felt I could do better. So I worked out a way of getting the same effect without compromising the tiny speakers.
I think presentation is important. I really like the idea of someone opening the box and getting excited about what’s inside (I do when I get something like this). I got to thinking about how to actually post it out and I decided to make a little watch stand with a loop and a base. It would help in shipping to keep it all stable, but it would also be a little value-add that might make someone smile. On the same sort of lines I realised that people needed to know how to work the watches since they have a stopwatch and date and suchlike, so I worked up a themed pseudo-instruction leaflet to put in the box. You can see these in the photos below.
In the future I’m going to see if I can find the perfect box to put it all in. but for now I’m recycling packing boxes (Recycling is important).