Many of you wanted for me to find something interesting for you all watch geek’s that isn’t a wristwatch and so I delivered. Today we have one of the coolest ideas ever, a Nixie tube clock from Past Indicator. Before we dig more into the watch, you all are probably asking yourself “what the hell is a Nixie Tube?”.
Nixie Tube or cold cathode display, is an electronic device used for displaying numerals or other information using glow discharge. The glass tube contains a wire-mesh anode and multiple cathodes, shaped like numerals or other symbols for some Japan made tubes. Applying power to one cathode surrounds it with an orange glow discharge. The tube is filled with a gas at low pressure, usually mostly neon and often a little mercury or argon, in a Penning mixture. Although as many audipihiles pointed it out, it resembles a vacuum tube in appearance, but its operation does not depend on thermionic emission of electrons from a heated cathode. It is hence a cold-cathode tube (a form of gas-filled tube), and is a variant of the neon lamp. Such tubes rarely exceed 40 °C (104 °F) even under the most severe of operating conditions in a room at ambient temperature thus making it perfect for home applications like a Nixie tube clock!
I actually have been a fan of Nixie tubes for some time and if you find this interesting I would love to tell you more about these amazing devices! But today we have a table clock from Past Indicator. The company was founded back in 2012, Russia (Moscow) when the founder Vadim Antonov found a couple of these tubes in the attic of his Grandpa. Past Indicator is probably the most known company who makes these clocks. Mostly all these companies are based in post-soviet countries as the tubes were made there. Past Indicator use new old stock nixie tubes in their clocks, from tubes made in the 70-80s. They source them from all over former USSR countries (Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia, etc.) and save them from being destroyed. They give these tubes a second life!
Past Indicator makes a ton of models (Vostok 3, Gagarin 60, Wing, Sputnik, Lunokhod etc.). All the names of these clocks are based on people, space etc. from USSR. The price range is from 259$ for the cheapest up to 2800$ for the higher end one. I chose the Vostok 3-Black which is 507$. The Vostok 3 came very nicely packaged, I actually wasn’t expecting packgaing which will be at this level. The box is a black cardboard one with Past Indicator logos in gold colour and an outline of the Nixie clock itself too. Inside the box you have a certificate, warranty, wall plug, the watch itself and instructions. As you can see the unboxing experience was pretty nice, actually quite similar to high end watch unboxing. The first impressions actually are really good, I was blown away by the quality of everything as Past Indicator makes everything in house from the wood case, brass details, circuit boards and everything. It is basically a handmade clock! My watchmaker actually also makes these type of clocks just for fun and the quality is nothing like his (Sorry Stanislav, haha).
The main base is made of walnut wood which very nicely cnc’ed. Underside is mede from somekind of metal and it is held on with some screws. Also on the undersie we have brass legs with leather material on the underside of them so that it doesn’t slip on the table top. On the front of the clock we have the Past Indicator logo made of brass that is made in flush with the wood. On the back we have the power input for the wall plug, two buttons made of brass to set up the clock and a brass plate with two screws on which you will find the number of the clock and by who it was designed! On top we have six IN14 Nixie Tubes with brass frames. The clock is 200mm in lenght, 70 mm wide and 80 mm high.
The setup process actually wasn’t quite straight forward. It took me about 30min to set it up, maybe it just me beeing dumb, or just tired from work, but I needed to go through instructions 3 times to understand them, but after you understand the process it is quite easy.
The clock actually has many features that I didn’t knew it had. The first two tubes from left to right shows hours, the next two show minutes and the last two show seconds. It also shows date and it even has alarm. On the backside you can regulate how bright are the blue LED lights and the tubes themselves (5 brightness levels). You can also set the clock so it goes to sleep mode in the night as the tubes won’t last forever! The tubes are rated up to 30 years of use, but that isn’t guaranteed, so to make them last longer Past Indicator told me to set the sleep mode so at night it shuts down. The tubes also don’t get hot at all, even the wooden case get’s barely warm which was a surprise as I have a digital clock from Sony (which is the only digital clock I own) and it get’s quite hot when sitting for a month. Also a cool thing for Nixie tube clocks is that it goes through test several times a day through all the numbers and it looks quite cool.
I tested the clock for about 4 weeks and I must say, it works like charm. The alarm is quite loud and woke me up easily for work. The clock is also visible in dark and also in direct sunlight which is better than some digital clocks I have had. Also this is probably the only interior object I have had on which I have got so many compliments, I even don’t get them that much when wearing any of my wristwatches, haha.
Is the clock worth it? YES! 100% WORTH IT! It looks cool, I really like that retro, 70s-80s space age style with a little of steam punk vibe too. It looks cool in modern interior and also in older style of interior. And it is really a conversation piece, especially to people who haven’t heard of these!