Craft day: Making a new watchface

I was very disappointed when Motorola failed to announce a new Moto 360 last month — I promised myself when the first one came out that I’d wait for version two before buying one — so I decided to buy a cheap non-smart watch and see if I even like wearing them.

The South Pole map was disappointingly low-res.
The South Pole map was disappointingly low-res.

I got one on Etsy that sounded pretty neat — the watchface was a map of the South Pole, it wasn’t massive and it cost only about $15. But when it arrived, I was very disappointed with the quality of the South Pole map. It was a pretty low-res print of a map that was clearly meant to show more features.

So I figured I’d make my own. Instead of sticking with the South Pole, I went with the North Pole, because I live much closer to it and I know a lot more about it.

CRS: WGS 84 / North Pole LAEA Canada
CRS: WGS 84 / North Pole LAEA Canada

A map of the North or South Pole makes a lot of sense for a watch, if you think about it. Center the hands on the pole and the Earth’s lines of longitude will extend straight out toward the edge of the watch.

So I grabbed some world border shapefiles, opened them up in QGIS and set the project CRS to a projection that centers on the North Pole.

What a mess!
What a mess!

The next step was to make the oceans look not totally boring.

I downloaded some bathymetric shapefiles from Natural Earth and tossed them into QGIS. The map looked like an MS Paint drawing of technicolor vomit.

No problem, though — QGIS is great at data-defined coloring. The only hurdle was that the bathymetric shapes were split into 10 different files. I could have gone through each and assigned it a different color to represent the water depth, but I am way too lazy for that.

Much better.
Much better.

I merged the separate layers into a single shapefile, which let me make QGIS do the hard work of assigning a color to each depth level. No more randomly colored splotches!

The brown land was still pretty unattractive, so I took inspiration from the rainbow-colored political maps I loved in elementary school. Again making QGIS do all the work, I applied a ColorBrewer color ramp and got a result I’m pretty happy with.

The last step in QGIS was adding some graticules for easy reading. Then it was ready to print.

I used 30 degree graticules (for hours) and 10 degree graticules (because I liked how they look).
I used 30 degree graticules (for hours) and 10 degree graticules (because I liked how they look).

I had a little trouble getting the map to the perfect size (and it still came out a little bigger than I wanted) but I managed to print it out. I assumed I’d mess up at least a few times, so I printed 12 copies. (I ended up only using one, though. *fist pump*)

Plenty of room for mistakes
Plenty of room for mistakes

It was time to work on the watch itself. I didn’t see any screws on the back of the watch, and the internet told me it would be pretty easy to just pry it off. The internet was right.

Once I was inside, there was a plastic gasket holding the mechanical parts in place. That popped right out, too. The toughest part was finding the release for the stem. It turned out to be a little lever/button that just needed to be pressed while pulling on the stem.

After the stem was out, I was able to look at the dial. The South Pole map was a sticker that had been applied to the watchface, so I pried the hands off and peeled off the sticker.

After the stem was out, I was able to look at the dial. The South Pole map was a sticker that had been applied to the watchface, so I pried the hands off and peeled off the sticker.

The next step was tracing the dial and cutting out a circle from my map. I didn’t have any glue because I am stupid, so I just wrapped the edges of the paper around the edge of the dial. It seemed pretty solid.

I put the watch back together, being careful to align the graticules the way I wanted to (update: I later decided to put 0 degrees at 12 o’clock) and snapped the back on. The only trouble I ran into was that I very slightly bent the minute hand while reassembling it and the second hand got caught on it — it was easy to bend the minute hand back so it was straight again.

I’m pretty satisfied with how the finished watchface turned out.

The finished product.
The finished product.
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s