The 10 Most Difficult to Read Tokyoflash Watches

Quick: what time is it? If you can glance down at your wristwatch and figure it out in, oh say, less than two seconds, it may just be too easy for you. And that's a wasted opportunity to train your mind, my friend. Instead, wear a wristwatch that forces you to go to the equivalent of a mental gym whenever you want to know the time!

As timepieces go, the wristwatch has gone a long way since Patek Philippe created the first one in the late 1800s. It started out as jewelry for royalties, then evolved to fashion accessory, and finally to a mass-produced practical item. Now, thanks to the folks at Tokyoflash, watches can also be a symbol of geekdom!

This whole list got started when I asked our pals over at Tokyoflash what they consider as their most difficult watch to read - and by difficult, I mean whip out your calculator/disable a bomb/decrypt a cipher kind of difficult. They came back with a list of ten shown here.

To share the joy, they are generously offering a free Tokyoflash wristwatch to four lucky Neatorama readers (see below for details) ... but first, here are the Ten Most Difficult to Read Tokyoflash Watches:

1. Equalizer High Frequency 2

All right, let's start with an easy one: the new High Frequency 2, the second Tokyoflash watch to use an Equalizer theme. You've got to be quick to read the time: the display pushes up the top row of lights, which then float back down like an equalizer graph to indicate the time for just 5 seconds.

Technically speaking, High Frequency 2 is actually a pretty advanced watch: it is an advanced LCD that uses just 1 LED to light the entire watch, so its power consumption is very low.


2. e35 JLr7

Look carefully, and you'll find out why this watch, made by Eri & Eiichi or e35, is named the JLr7 (just look at the top row of the watch).

When you want to find what time it is, just press the button to watch a grid of L-shaped notches come to life. The hours, minutes, and seconds are encoded in a geometric pattern.

The first two rows, comprised of 12 lights, tell the hour. The next three lights are increments of 15 minutes, and the next 14 lights are 1 minute each. The last 3 are seconds (those tick by quickly!)

Here's a handy dandy cheat sheet on how to tell time with an e35 JLr7:


3. Oberon

This one is stylish and geeky! The Oberon watch uses concentric rings to tell the time. Each LED on the outer ring indicates 1 hour. The LEDs on the second ring are 1 minute each, and those on the inner (or third) ring are 10 minutes each.

Thankfully, the LEDs are positioned just like the numerals on a regular watch face, so it's really quite easy to tell the time.

4. e35 Geomesh

Let's step it up a notch: another watch by e35 is the Geomesh, where you have to count the vertical lights to figure out the hours and the horizontal lights for the minutes (either 5 minutes or 1 minute increments, depending on where the lights are).

Here's the chart:

Let's try to figure out the example on the left. There are 9 horizontal (green) lights, so it's 9 o'clock. 5 lights x 5 minutes each + 4 lights x 1 minute each = 29.

The time is 9:29. Pretty straight forward, right?


5. Eleeno Kion Elite

Just when you thought that there's a familiar clock hand pointing out the time, you've just underestimated the Kion Elite by Eleeno. If you look closer, you'll find that there's only ONE clock hand - and it's telling the minutes!

So how do we figure out the hour? Turns out, it's the background of the watch: the pattern will "point out" what hour it currently is (7:50 in the image above).


6. Tokyoflash 1000100101

If you look closely, you'll probably see this watch on a Sci-Fi movie from the 1960s about the future. Besides looking cool (the colored LEDs blink a LOT!), this watch will make you do math.

Every time you want to figure out what time it is, you have to do a mental arithmetic: The first LED is 10 hours, then the next 9 is worth 1 hour each. The next 5 are 10 minutes, then the last 9 are 1 minute each.

So, 11:35 is 1000+100+30+5. And who said you'll never use math in real life!


7. Radioactive Active Reactor

By now, you should already pick up a pattern: Tokyoflash watches want you to do math to figure out the time. Nothing fancy, just a little addition.

Active Reactor by Radio Active adds a little humor to the math: the hour is marked on the "Danger" bar (with the Warning button signifying the 6 hour mark.

Oh, and another thing. This watch you simply don't wear in an airport.


8. Shinshoku

The Shinshoku is a continuous stainless steel band that wraps around your wrist with a matrix of punched out holes. In what constitutes the front part of the band, the holes are filled with 29 LEDs that illuminate to tell the time.

In the multi-color version, 12 red LEDs indicate the hour, 3 green LEDs indicate quarter hours, and 14 yellow ones are 1 minute each. But first, as if the whole thing isn't cool enough, the lights cascade to make the final time-giving formation.

The watch above, for example, shows 8:35.


9. Kyokusen

In Japanese, kyokusen means curved line, which is a big part of the watch face. The line tells the hour part of the time: each lit segment of the curve indicates one hour.

The circular array of lights are the minutes. But here's the twist: each dot in the outer ring is 5 minutes, and the 4 inner dots are 1 minute each.

So, the watch to the left shows 10: 24.

10. Twelve 5-9 Q version

If a Cylon Centurion wore a watch, I betcha the Twelve 5-9 Q version would be it.

The watch just oozes that creepy cool "biomechanical" feel: the watch face has a contoured undulating effect. Peering through five tiny strips are 26 very bright multi-colored LEDs.

Like its name implies, the watch uses the 12-5-9 method (12 hours, 5x10 minutes, 9 single minutes) to tell the time. Moving clockwise, the first two lines of the LEDs show the hours. The next line is the minutes up to 50, with each glowing LED showing 10 minutes. The final two lines are the single minutes, with one LED for each minute.

Got it? We didn't either ... but it sure looks cool!

Get a Free Tokyoflash Watch

Now, the bit you've all been patiently waiting for. The good people at Tokyoflash are sponsoring this giveaway. A Tokyoflash watch of your choice can be yours, absolutely free. All you have to do is this:

1. Go to
2. Find out how many watch models are currently available for purchase in the Twelve 5-9 series
3. Email your answer to, along with which Tokyoflash watch you would like to win (except for the high-end Seiko and Independent brands). Optional: increase your chance of winning by including your Neatorama username (not a user? It's easy to register.)

Four winners will be chosen at random on January 31, 2008. At least two of these winners will be a registered user of Neatorama. Good luck!

Update 1/22/07: Wow! Thanks for the response, guys - please subscribe to Neatorama's RSS Feed or visit our homepage for updates on this contest. If you've just seen it now, you're not too late - you have until January 30, 2008 to enter! (Winners will be announced on January 31, 2008). Update 1/23/07: Two clarifications from Tokyoflash (Thanks for the questions, Kyle SS!): - Entrants can select any watch they like to win from the entire watches page, inclusive of all brands not just the "Tokyoflash brand". This does not include the designs in the watch museum though because these are quite old and are no longer in production. - Winners can choose a watch design or color/material that is currently sold out. The majority will come back into stock. However, some won't - and also the company can't say exactly when the design will come back into stock. For example, Oberon just sold out. They know that this will come back into stock in mid-March so thats fine, but they can't say for every watch. The best thing is for you is to choose which watch you ideally want from the entire range (except for the high-end Seiko and Independent brands), then if it's not currently available Tokyoflash will let you know if and when it will come in, or if it will take too long, you can select a different style. Update 1/26/08: TokyoFlash just added two new brands to their line-up that have to be excepted from this little competition: the Seiko and Independent brands. Update 1/31/08: Here are the winners - Thanks for playing, everyone! Update 2/1/08: Here's a coupon code for 1500 yen ($14 or 7GBP) discount off your Tokyoflash purchase until February 15, 2008: NEAT8

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nice watches, I have Shinshoku model of them, make fun to collect led watches. I found a new led watch brand
The Flashspot Dog Tag Led watch, it would be my disco watch!
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I love the article, but there's no links :( Ohh!! Well I think it's worth doing a search on Google for lol! Keep an eye out...I'm defintely going to do a review of some of these. Great Find!!!
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