Lifeclock One: The Escape from New York Inspired Smartwatch

In John Carpenter’s famous masterpiece, Escape from New York, Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell), has 24 hours to rescue the President from the country’s largest prison — New York City. The United States Police Force gives Snake a gun, a two-way radio and a countdown watch.

The Lifeclock One is a fully licensed reboot of that watch but with a twist — it’s a countdown timer of course, but it also tells the time, date and much more. Best of all — it pairs with your iOS or Android device to give you all of the alerts for all of the cool phone functions that Snake would have killed for — push notifications from your favorite apps as well as incoming call and text message alerts. You also get step counting, weather, world clocks, camera control, stopwatch and much more.

The Lifeclock One is a unique watch that’s not only smart but attracts attention. Designed, assembled and tested in the United States, it’s the coolest looking smartwatch you’ll find on the market today.

When the Lifeclock One screen powers up, you better not be shy because you’re going to get attention — lots of it. The crisp, vibrant displays will attract the gaze of everyone in the room — and it gets even better at night. LED watches have never looked this cool.

A viewing of the movie back in 2014 sparked the idea to make the Lifeclock One. While watching the movie, creator Jonathan Zufi thought: “How cool would it be to have a real Snake Plissken countdown timer?” But he knew that if he did it right, he could delight fans of the movie and perhaps a few other lovers of unique timepieces and awesome gadgets.

Quick review of the movie: It’s 1997 and Manhattan has been turned into a maximum security prison. When the President of the United States crash lands into the city center after fleeing a hijacked plane, a ruthless prison warden bribes ex-soldier and criminal, Snake Plissken (played by Kurt Russell), to rescue the President (played by Donald Pleasance), who is being held hostage.

We first see the watch about 22 minutes into the movie. Bob Hauk (played by Lee Van Cleef) straps a countdown timer onto Snake’s wrist and explains that he has just under 23 hours to accomplish his mission. Snake’s not happy — he was originally told he had 24 hours — but in 23 hours the Hartford Summit meeting between the United States, China and the Soviet Union will end and so will the chances of reaching a peace agreement. The President’s bargaining chip at that table is a new technology based on ‘nuclear fusion’ which will give the US the upper hand in negotiations. Hauk tricks Snake into committing by inserting two explosive capsules into his neck — and Snake is peeved about it.

The watch in the movie wasn’t real — it was a prop. Referred to as a ‘digital wrist watch’ in the original script, the watch was made up of an oven kitchen timer stuffed into a metal enclosure. According to a thread at The Retro Prop Forum: “The body was custom made. All of the hero parts were cast metal. I think that we made 1 or 2 plastic ones and 3 rubbers. It also had a ribbon cable about 2 inches wide coming off of each hero.”

Based on our research, for the close-up scenes of the watch powered on and functioning, the unit was powered by a battery pack with a lead running underneath Kurt’s arm. In all other shots of the watch, we see that it is powered off. So, the prop was just that — a prop. The Lifeclock One actually works. We decided to balance the watch portrayed in the movie with a practical, highly functional timepiece that also supports capabilities never considered back in 1981 (or 1997).

We know that real prop fans take their craft very seriously and we respect that. We’ve worked hard to keep the watch as close to the movie as possible and still make it attractive to the fans. We feel confident that we have achieved that balance and the Lifeclock One will appeal as a faithful reproduction of Snake’s countdown timer.

Best of all — we’ve teamed up with Creative Licensing Corporation, one of the premier licensing agencies in the US to help us secure a license with the owner of the movie, Studiocanal, who shares our excitement and are fully behind us to do it right.

The Lifeclock One is a fully capable, standalone, modern smartwatch — time, date, stopwatch and world clocks — but it also pairs with your iOS/Android device to give you notifications for incoming calls, text messages and push notifications from your favorite apps.

The Lifeclock One also supports firmware updates via Bluetooth. Any updates to your Lifeclock One can be simply and easily downloaded via your smartphone and applied to your watch.

We’ve put enormous thought and consideration into the Lifeclock One. We wanted to create a timepiece that would evoke memories of the movie, but also stand alone as something that you would enjoy wearing on your wrist — the best materials, the best quality, while staying faithful to the heritage of the story and the look/feel of the movie.

From day one we wanted to build the entire watch here in the United States. Unfortunately that wasn’t possible. There are lots of reasons why this was very challenging to do but we are proud to report that we’ve chosen US companies to manufacture the two most complex components of the Lifeclock One — the main enclosure and the core PCB (printed circuit board). We think that, for a wearable, this is rare — you won’t find many *small* companies that produce major components for consumer electronic devices like these here in the US.

Let’s be honest: Yes, we are paying more for these components, but the pricing is fair. We have more control over how they are being produced, with the lower risk of manufacturing errors being caught late, reducing the chance of costly mistakes. And best of all, we are supporting real manufacturing here in the United States. We think Snake would have wanted it this way (the USPF certainly would have).

The FTC has strict guidelines around using the ‘Made in USA’ badge and while we couldn’t meet all of these requirements, we are proud of the local business relationships we have created here and we’re excited to give them that business. Furthermore, the watch was fully designed here in the US, and will be assembled, tested, and distributed from Georgia, USA.

The main watch enclosure will be CNC (Computer Numeric Control) machined from a solid piece of brass. We wanted the most important piece of the Lifeclock One to be made here in the USA and we plan to work with one of the best machinists in the country based right here in Georgia.

We’ve been through multiple revisions of the enclosure with prototypes made via 3D printing (low and high quality) and CNC prototyping with aluminum, steel, and of course brass.

Each Lifeclock One is precision fitted with a stainless steel backplate that features a custom o-ring to keep the elements out and an integrated magnetic charging port.

The back plate will come in two versions of stainless steel:

  • Complete monolithic back plate (Snake and USPF editions)
  • Hybrid stainless steel and carbon fiber (Gullfire edition)

Production versions of the plate will feature engraved elements such as the unit’s unique serial number, studio copyright info, and FCC and CE approval IDs.

LEDs. They are everywhere. They’re in our laptops, our TVs, our fridges, our cars. They’re in the alarm clocks next to our beds and on our microwave ovens.

In a world dominated by crisp smartphone, tablet and TV displays (LCD, OLED, AMOLED) there is one type of LED display that’s been around for a while now and continues to show up everywhere in modern day life — the 7 segment LED. The watch that Snake wears uses standard 7 segment LED displays.

When designing the Lifeclock One, we knew that we wanted to support rich notifications. The challenge with 7 segment displays is that they aren’t very good at displaying certain characters (e.g. M, Z, etc.). So we decided to build our own.

The LEDs used inside the Lifeclock One are unique — they are completely custom. Stay tuned for an update where we’ll dive into the background of how these 11 segment displays work, why they are so different, and the unique technology we’re using to power them. To those who say this is just another LED watch, we say: No. This is a unique timepiece that is not only built to honor the spirit of the awesome EFNY movie, but to also bring in some modern elements of design and experience, which takes things to another level.

It’s important to note that due to the nature of these custom true LED segment displays, they are limited to the English character set only. We’ve made some customizations so that we can support the full English alphabet (A through Z) as well as the full number set 0 through 9. There is no upper or lower case on the Lifeclock One – each character is uniquely presented. There are no immediate plans to offer any non-English character sets.

The ‘brain’ (wink wink) of the Lifeclock One looks retro but it is a powerhouse of cool technology, including: Bluetooth, accelerometer, compass, vibration motor and much more.

The watch crystal is a critical component — not only does it protect those awesome displays but it ensures the displays have maximum resilience and visibility. It makes the unique LED displays shine crisply and clearly.

The Lifeclock One front crystal is custom machined from SiO2 coated glass that is also tempered. Each display has been manufactured as a 640nm filter to ensure maximum brightness of the custom LED displays while providing just the right level of obfuscation of the main PCB.

About Studiocanal
STUDIOCANAL is a subsidiary of the CANAL+ Group. It is one of Europe’s leading companies in the market for co-production, acquisition, distribution and sale of international feature films. STUDIOCANAL is the only studio operating simultaneously in three main territories across Europe: France, the United Kingdom and Germany. The company distributes a total of more than 50 films a year throughout Europe. Additionally, STUDIOCANAL owns one of the most important libraries in the world, with more than 5,000 international titles.

About Creative Licensing
Located in Los Angeles CA, Creative Licensing is a full service independent merchandise licensing agency that specializes in long-term brand development. Founded in 1982, Creative Licensing currently represents a large catalogue of classic films and properties.