Egypt, Industry and Sunlight
Authored by: Monica  

In today’s networked world, you can probably find a connection between almost anything. So the title of this blog should not be too weird for you! In fact, there is a magnificently deep connection between Nefertiti, industrial design sensibilities, glass tubes, Michel van der Meij and sunlight and of course, watches! Let me tell you more. The story unfolds in different scenarios.


Neferneferuaten Nefertiti, Queen Nefertiti. What can I say about her that you don’t already know! Beauty, power, enduring enigma – we would simply run out of words to describe Nefertiti. She and her husband changed the concept of religious worship by stating that there was only one God and that was Aten or the sun.


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Considering that solar power fuels, in some way or the other, all life on this planet, perhaps Nefertiti got it right, way back around 3,350 years ago. From getting enough sunlight to synthesize Vitamin D in our bodies to harnessing sunlight to power our watches and other devices, this is an essential nutrient indeed. Energy is, after all, at the heart of life, agriculture and industry itself.


There are plenty of design sensibilities that drive watchmakers. Perhaps one major influence has been industrialization.  Maybe such history can even be traced back to Norman Melancton Bel Geddes who created the industrial design genre way back in 1927.


Watches were inspired by things like motor gauges, gears and rivets, even in digital displays. Technical equipment used digital displays of various kinds to measure, gauge and analyze production. One such display was by way of glass tubes. Way back in the year 1955, a company known as Haydu Brothers Laboratories manufactured Numeric Indicator eXperimental No.1 or NIX 1 glass tubes which primarily worked on a glow discharge principle and displayed numerals.


NIX 1 Glass tube

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They found plenty of industrial uses. And they inspired a man called Michel van der Meij who looked at them and said, “Hey, why not take some glass tubes and make them into watches.” The result? The ultra cool and unique solar powered Nixie watch.
























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Nixie is the name that is an extension of the NIX 1 glass tubes. At the heart of the Nixie watches, lies this glass tube which tells time, one digit at a time. Though it is called Kopriso Mi Esposita (which incidentally means ‘my little bride’ in Spanish) now, it was originally called the Nefertiti Nixie Watch. Michel van der Meij created his watches with hieroglyphic cartouches of Nefertiti and her husband Akhenaten on either side of the watch.


Why is the Nixie such a treasured possession then? The maker creates each individual piece by hand. There are some amazing stories that have gone into the making of almost every one of these watches. He etches them by hand. He creates the cartouches at his work station. He looks for stickers, straps and cases from all over the world.  Just a man doing super-man things.


To me, the Nixie story is remarkable because it takes me back to a simpler life. I would like to decipher my watches without a 1000(!) page manual! So putting retro-tech, solar power and handcrafted excellence into making a watch is just my cup of tea. I do make a connection with this watch at a sublime level. Perhaps the spirit of Ancient Egypt coming into play!

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