While everyone's going gaga over smartwatches, we whip up a bit of the old-school.
Ever since Motorola's first live stream for the Moto 360, there's been this notion buzzing in the back of my head. As amazing as the round design looked on the wrist, the way Motorola had embedded the watch band connectors into the casing with no lugs on either side gave me visions of a smart pocket watch. With our recent exploration into 3D Printing here at Android Central, now seemed like the right time to see what was possible. What happened next was a solid week of tinkering, printing, very nearly destroying a Moto 360, and at last ending up with a functional design that could be used as a pocket watch.
Yes, before you even go there, I am more than aware that a pocket watch with Android Wear functionality would essentially create a use case where you're performing the same pocket grab for a watch as you would a smartphone in order to do less things. I would argue that pocket watches haven't been worn for practicalities sake in a very long time and leave it at that. This is 100 percent a "because I can" kind of experiment, but I'd be lying if I said the end result didn't have me seriously considering wandering around in public with a pocket watch. I'm also not the only one with this idea, in fact there was a Kickstarter for a similar concept in metal instead of plastic. So it's not just me.
Putting together the first attempt for this project was surprisingly easy, due largely to how much work had already been done. A quick look on Thingiverse revealed user Laggylarry and his Paracord band adapter for the Moto 360. The basic cartridge design already existed, so all I needed to do was mess with the existing files in some kind of STL file editor. I initially tried to make the edits through a pair of CAD apps on Android, but found quickly that touch interfaces are really not great for this kind of thing. It's way to easy to be imprecise, and for something as small as this that wasn't going to fly. I moved to my desktop and used SketchUp 2015 instead, which made editing and modifying the existing structure much easier. The first edit attempt was exported to Cura, a desktop app for setting up print filed for the Ultimaker 2 I've been using, and 36 minutes later the first attempt was done.
The first print fit so snugly into the watch band slot on the Moto 360 that I was able to mess around for quite a while without putting the spring bar pin in and locking the cartridge in place. I would up needing a pin that was slightly smaller than the one Motorola includes with the 360, but had one on hand from another watch so it was no big deal. Unfortunately, it didn't occur to me until after the spring bar pin clicked into place that the cartridge was so snug I wouldn't be able to get a tool in to pull that pin back out. This started a 48 hour freak out where I tried everything I could thing of to get the cartridge out of the slot.
Since the back of the 360 is somewhat fragile, I eventually opted to use a warm blade to carve the cartridge out of its slot, destroying it in the process. Much like watch bands that are too thick for this design, the cartridge would need to be more carefully considered. The second design attempt needed to have an appropriate notch cut out to make this easier, which was also surprisingly easy in SketchUp 2015.
With the appropriate changes in place, everything works exactly as it should. Using the Moto 360 in pocket watch form didn't require much of anything in the way of settings changes. Ambient display was disabled since I glancing down at the watch wasn't going to happen when the device was in your pocket, but not much else needed to be changed. Obviously heart rate monitoring isn't going to work, and I do wish the feature could be turned off in settings, but the pedometer seems to work the same way when in my pocket. Holding the Moto 360 in your hand and using your thumb to dismiss notifications is perfectly comfortable, and your average pocket watch chain length is enough that you can speak commands to the watch comfortably without leaning or tugging, though in a crowded or noisy space this is far less likely to be true. That this design is only marginally less practical than wearing the watch on your wrist either speaks volumes to the current limitations of Android Wear, or indicates this wasn't such a crazy idea to begin with. I'll let you decide.
The Moto 360 pocket watch design has been published as a remix on Thingiverse for anyone to try out for themselves, but it is important to remember that 3D Printers aren't always the most precise things on the planet when printing things this small. Tiny errors can completely ruin prints, and if there are any imperfections on the outer edges of the print you run the risk of stress fractures on the bottom of your Moto 360 if you just carelessly jam the cartridge in. Enjoy!