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Time out: Tokyoflash's cryptic watches (pictures)

Time is boring if it's conventional. Crave pays a visit to the watchmaker, which mixes puzzles with design, yielding some truly unique wrist bling.

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Tim Hornyak
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Kisai Rorschach

Japanese boutique watch designer Tokyoflash has been creating bizarre timepieces for a decade. With a flair for design and displaying the time in unexpected, and often novel and head-scratching ways, the company has built a base of fans around the world, even crowdsourcing concepts on its blog.

One of its latest productions is the Kisai Rorschach, a concept originally submitted to the blog by a German designer. It's the first Tokyoflash creation to use an electronic-paper display, and shows the time as increasingly complex inkblots that reference the famous Rorschach psychology test. Can you tell what time it is?

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Kisai Intoxicated

The released Kisai Intoxicated is an unapologetic watch for drinkers. It's big and bold, but at least it sports a breathalyzer. Peeling back the right side of the silicone case reveals a tiny port. Once the sensor has warmed up (it takes about 15 seconds), you blow into the port for 5 seconds. If the display goes from green to red, you're drunk. There's also a blood alcohol content scale if you want to know exactly how drunk you are.
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Stainless steel time

In these earlier stainless steel Tokyoflash watches, time is displayed in a variety of ways. Clockwise from top: the Radio Active Active Reactive tells time by danger gauges, the Morse Code encodes the time in audio beeps, and the Pimp, which has 72 blinking LED lights.
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Kisai Seven

One of Tokyoflash's most popular creations, the Kisai Seven, seems like a prop from "Tron." Described as being "easy to read at a glance," its inner LED ring shows the hour with a darkened spot while the outer one shows the minutes. The LED lines on the band also show the minutes in lighted segments.
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Kisai Console Wood

Combining old and new, Tokyoflash's Kisai Console Wood houses an LED time display in a handsome sandalwood case. The hour is indicated in the top hexagonal lights, the minutes are shown in 5-minute intervals on the bottom, and the left-side gauge shows single minutes from 1 to 4.
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Kisai Kaidoku

Designed by a teenage Tokyflash fan, the Kisai Kaidoku is another example of how Tokyoflash crowdsources ideas. It's also another oddball design: It has an LCD display of words instead of numbers. The flashing words spell out the time.
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Kisai On Air

Another fan concept that became a real watch, Tokyoflash's On Air features a minimalist LCD touch screen. It shows the time by displaying numbers where the hour hand would be, for instance a "45" at three o'clock means it's 3:45. The LCD lights up when touched.
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Kisai Tenmetsu

The Tenmetsu is a typically cryptic Tokyoflash timepiece. You push a button on the aluminum case and various lights turn on. This is how the company explains it: "Red LEDs indicate 15 units, yellow LEDs indicate 5 units, and green LEDs indicate 1 unit. A combination of lights indicate hours, then minutes, then the month, then the date." Got that?
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Kisai Polygon

Housed in a sandalwood case, the Polygon Wood's LCD shows the time with concentric polygons with positions referring to a traditional clock face. The outer ring indicates the hour, the inner ring the minute in 10-minute blocks, and the inner digit shows the minute. The example here reads 10:38.
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Kisai Rogue Touch

This unusual pocket watch from Tokyoflash has a touch-screen LCD/LED face housed in a mineral crystal lens and stainless steel case. The hour is shown by the location of the gap in the outermost ring in the display according to a traditional clock face; the minutes are indicated by an inner ring that progresses around the clock like a traditional minute hand. Two central rings display the time in another time zone in a similar fashion.

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