This Ingenious Watch Design Allows the Blind to Tell Time by Touch

(Bloomberg Businessweek) -- The first thing you notice about Eone Bradley watches is that there are no hands pointing to the hours or minutes. Instead, time is indicated by ball bearings—one for minutes, near the center of the dial, and one for hours, on a recessed track around the outside edge. The magnetic markers are guided by a battery-powered quartz movement made by Ronda AG of Switzerland. All the watches are named for the brand’s spokesman, Bradley Snyder: A four-time Paralympics gold medalist in swimming, he lost his sight while serving as a U.S. Navy bomb defuser in Afghanistan. The company has introduced the $285 Eone Bradley x KBT timepiece, with profits supporting the Kilimanjaro Blind Trust, which teaches blind children in East Africa how to read and write in Braille.

The Competition

• One of the first timepieces for the visually impaired is the $265 Seiko S23159. (It’s currently out of stock but the SWL001, with a black dial, is available.) A hinged crystal flips open for access to the raised markers inside.

• The $399 Dot markets itself as the first smartwatch in Braille. Connected to a smartphone app, the 43mm-wide device tells time, IDs callers, gives notifications, and delivers texts in constantly changing Braille.

The Case

The partnership between Eone—short for “everyone,” it’s pronounced “E-one”—and the Kilimanjaro Blind Trust started when the trust’s founder, Paul Polman, former chief executive officer of Unilever Plc, reached out to the brand about buying 5,200 watches for the kids. The result is this distinctive, 40mm matte silver-titanium case, with an Italian leather strap accented with ivory stitching near the watch face. $285

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Gaddy at jgaddy@bloomberg.net

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