Watch: 24 Hour Perfection 

 by Michael Disher

April, 2002 

Click watch
images to see larger versions. 

Ermel, Cyclos Managing Director


Watch showed their first production pieces at Basel this month. While
I was there, I had an opportunity to sit down with the man behind the
concept, Managing Director John Ermel. We discussed his background,
his company, and his unique timepieces.

John first had the idea for
the Cyclos 12 years ago, when he was working as an architect and
designer. He was engaged to create a new watch design, and he wanted
to do something really different. John liked the idea of displaying
the full 24 hours, yet he understood that for many people, a standard
24 hour display is difficult to read quickly. He knew that most people tell
the time intuitively by looking at the angle of the hands. On a 24
hour watch, the hand angles are all changed from the standard 12 hour
display –  for
example, the 
“six o’clock” position is midnight, and “ten past ten”
becomes 8:10 p.m. Standard
24 hour display watches are just not intuitive.



It occurred to John that the full
24 hour cycle could be displayed, and the standard 12 hour dial hand
positions maintained, if the hour hand could  effectively change
length, allowing it to point to two different hour scales – an outer
scale for a.m., and an inner scale for p.m. As
on a standard dial, noon and midnight are both straight up, with noon
being on the outer track, and midnight on the inner. On the dial, the
two hour tracks form a figure known as  “Pascal’s
spiral”, which might be described in general terms as a smaller circle within a
larger circle, with the two circles intersecting at the six o’clock
position. The dual hour tracks can be seen clearly on the Day and
Night model in the picture to the right.
This was the birth of the Cyclos concept. 


Above, Day and Night
model (top) and 

sporty a.m./p.m. model


For the next 10 years, John
worked on various designs. In 1998, he secured financing from friends
to develop his work, and in 1999, he filed for a Swiss patent on his
invention. John filed for worldwide patents in 2000, and that same
year he began working on prototypes with watchmakers Robert Greubel
and Stephen Forsey. Robert was a prototypist with IWC from 1987 to
1989. He worked for renowned complication specialist Renaud &
Papi from 1990 to 1999, and for seven of those years he was a
partner and Vice-General Director. In 1999, Robert, along with Stephen
Forsey, founded CompliTime
in La Chaux-de-Fonds.

Stephen Forsey was born in the UK, and he is a graduate with honors of
the British Horological Institute. He received further watchmaking education
during 1988 and 1990 at WOSTEP in Neuchatel. He worked for Renaud
& Papi from 1992 to 1999, and since then he has been a partner in CompliTime.

Together, John and the Cyclos team built what
is now known as the “dual phase module”, shown in Figures 1 and 2
on the right. This device, which contains 40 parts, controls the hour hand’s extension and retraction as it
moves around the dial. The hour hand (shown in purple) is attached to
a finger (shown in turquoise), which is attached to a radially adjustable
arm (shown in orange). The pin of the finger attaches to the hour hand from
below, near the tip. The arm to which the finger attaches, and other
parts of the module, are hidden by a disk that sits on top of the
dial, just below the hands, as can be seen in Figure 3. This
arrangement creates the impression that the hour hand is floating in
space, as can be seen in the graphic at the top of this article. A series of planetary gears work to maintain the hour hand on
the correct axis, and allow it to extend and retract by 3.5 mm as it
makes its two cycles around the dial each 24 hours.


Figure 1, a
computer rendering of the  dual phase module



Figure 2,  dual phase module



Figure 3, detail
the Cyclos dial.


The dual phase module is
mounted on the dial side of an ETA 2892-A2, which is specially
modified and beautifully finished. The Cyclos logo is hand engraved
on the rotor. The Cyclos is a COSC-certified chronometer. The case
measures 39 mm in diameter not including the winding crown, and 12.8
mm thick.
The watch is fitted with a sapphire crystal and display back, and
water resistance is rated at 30 meters.   

Cyclos is making their first
production watches available as a Special Numbered Initial Edition of 25 pieces, all in
gold, and each piece hand assembled. When reserving a number, you have
several options:

  • Styles:
    sport or dress

  • Case and
    buckle metal: yellow, rose or white gold

  • Dial color: 
    black or silver

  • Strap: black
    calf, or black or brown alligator


Shown below are
the Day and Night dress model with black dial (top left) and silver
dial (top right), and the sporty a.m./p.m. model with black dial (bottom left)
and silver dial (bottom right).



To view additional
images of Cyclos watches, please click


Cyclos will personalize each
watch by hand engraving the owner’s name on the case back.
Prices for the Special Numbered Initial Edition pieces decline as the edition
number increases. For example, Number 1 sells for CHF 28,000, or about
US$17,400, Number 12 is CHF 15,000 or about US$9,300, and Number 25 is 
CHF12,400, or about US$7700.* Swiss VAT of 7.6% is
deducted for orders delivered abroad. As of this writing,
approximately 13  of the 25 pieces remain available.
When the initial 25 piece Edition has
been sold, serial production will begin, perhaps in early 2003.
Initial production will be gold pieces only, with stainless steel to
The 25 Special Numbered Initial Edition is being sold directly via the Cyclos


I am happy to report that
John was quite busy in Basel, with people literally lined up to meet
him during the early days of the Fair. Even when I met with him toward
the end of the show, people were stopping by to talk every few
 Meeting John was a great pleasure – he has tremendous enthusiasm
for the Cyclos project. The concept is simple and effective, and I
find the watch visually quite appealing. I think bright days lie ahead
for Cyclos Watch.


For more information,
including an animation of the Cyclos watch in action, visit the Cyclos
website at


*All U.S. Dollar
prices are approximate and were calculated using Cyclos’ exchange
rate of 1.61 Swiss Francs to the U.S. Dollar.

Image of John Ermel
by Michael Disher. All other images © Cyclos Watch, used with

©, all rights reserved.