E-ink technology is generally well known for its use in electronic book readers such as the Kindle or Sony Reader and e-ink watches use this technology in their displays.
E-ink uses very little power to provide a high contrast display, twice the contrast of LCD displays in fact, the display can also be viewed from a much greater angle almost 180 degrees, unlike similar displays such as LCD or LED. Its called E-ink because the high contrast legibility makes it similar to paper.
E-ink displays are also thin and flexible and can be of virtually any size and shape which gives watch manufacturers the opportunity to come up with some unique designs.
2005 Seiko released a prototype of the first E-ink watch , called the Spectrum. It was a very unique watch as you can see, with a bracelet style design aimed at women.
In 2007 they released another version of the Spectrum which had a limited production of 1000 watches. According to Seiko it has two different display modes, one called “efficiency” which displayed the time in a regular way and another called “mystery” mode which dispalys the time in a more imaginative way (shown in the image below) It can also reverse its display from white on black to black on white at the touch of a button has an almost 360 degree display which is encased in sapphire crystal, it weighs 80g and is 6.9mm thick.
Announced in 2010 the Seiko “Active Matrix ” .
Sporting that retro Seiko look, it features an e-ink display with 180-degree viewing angle, an impressive 80,000 pixels each able to display four shades of grey allowing figures, text and graphics to appear on the dial in a much smoother and infinitely programmable way.
Also has atomic clock synchronization and solar power.
Other manufacturers making e-ink watches are Phosphor and O.D.M
Phosphor has three main designs. One that simply shows the time in Digital format, called the ‘E-Ink Digital Hour Clock’ watch. An analog display watch, the ‘Ani-Digi‘ and one that has a calender display as well called the ‘E Ink Digital Calendar Watch ‘ they all come with a choice of Stainless steel or Leather straps.
Further information at their website.
O.D.M make an e-ink watch called the ‘Filmatic II’ (below) further information at their website
E-Ink watches Pros and Cons:
High contrast which makes it very easy to read the time even in bright sunlight as well as in very low light conditions.
Can be viewed at any angle unlike other displays such as LCD.
Consumes very little power, energy is only used when the display changes and not to sustain the display.
No backlight makes them difficult to see in complete darkness.
How E-Ink works
E-ink as its name implies has similarities to regular ink, in that it uses a liquid.
E-ink uses microcapsules, each with the diameter of about a human hair.
Inside these microcapsules are positively charged white and negatively charged black particles suspended in a clear liquid. If a negative electric field is applied the white particles move to the top of the microcapsule and are visible and when a positive one applied the black ones become visible.