Todd Bailey, 27, a resident of the alternative space known as Camp Gay, designs electronics for toys by day. On his own time he’s invented a binary wristwatch called Concept = Bling.

How does it tell time?

Binary is typically represented by ones and zeros, but it’s really just a numbering system based on twos. Instead of one and zero, a person could represent binary with any set of opposites: on or off, true or false, up or down, etc. This watch displays hours, minutes, and seconds as rows of binary numbers–in this case the on/off pattern of the lights in a row add together to indicate the time.

What does Concept = Bling mean?

It’s a mission statement about what’s valuable, really. In electronics, you have to start with an idea, something you’ve never seen before, that you’re willing to spend a lot of time and trouble bringing into the world.

What is the watchband made of?

Ribbon cable, which is already a band and keeps with the aesthetic of the watch. The colors are ordered the same as the wavelengths in the light spectrum, and each color has a numerical value, a sort of electronic numerology. It makes a statement about the nature of physics and electronics, and it’s a beautiful rainbow. I totally endorse rainbows.

Actually all the elements of the watch are exposed–the circuit board, the battery. Why?

Transparency exposes function. Not only can you see that electronics are beautiful, but seeing how it works makes it more meaningful.

Does seeing something mean you understand it?

These circuit boards are in everything electronic we use. People want to believe in the wonder of what’s going on around them. So either they think it runs on a magical crystal or on a PIC16F872 microcontroller. Either way, they’re right.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Saverio Truglia.