When you think about it, watchmaking was kind of the computer science of earlier centuries. Although the tools used were very different, the same kind of rigor and logic needed to design a watch applies to coding an algorithm.
As it happens, the first digital computers were clockwork machines, although analog mechanical calculating machines existed for quite some time before that. Some continue to be designed and built today, mostly as hobby or art projects. Owning a 3D printer turns out to be pretty useful sometimes.
Not everyone has the time or skill to construct something like this from scratch, of course. There is a shortcut, though: these wooden clockwork kits from ROKR. Made from precision-cut wood, each has to be carefully assembled to become one of three vehicles – a universal calendar, a pendulum clock, or a safe. Most of these are spring-powered, and any of them is sure to impress any curious guest.
People with a nostalgic side and an interest in engineering will certainly enjoy building these functional puzzles and figuring out how they work. With different kits being made up of anything between three dozen and over three hundred parts, you can choose one to suit any age level of about 12 and up if giving it as a gift.
The instructions are pretty clear, and you don’t need any special tools to assemble even the more complex models. Buyer beware, though: this is not an easy project! Finishing one and discovering that it actually works will give you a fantastic feeling, but this is precisely because success is not guaranteed. You’ll have to think ahead while reading the instructions and, whatever you do, don’t get frustrated! Although a few spares are provided, some of the parts are on the fragile side and will snap if you try to force them into place.
Considering the quality of the product and the intricacy of the design, we don’t think that this gift is overpriced. You or the recipient is likely to spend many happy hours trying to get it to work just right. If it simply won’t go, it’s possible to disassemble everything and try again, but probably not worth it due to the fragile construction. Of course, if the parts were made of plastic, the finished item wouldn’t look nearly as beautiful, while if metal were used, it would probably cost five times as much. All considered, this weakness is probably a compromise.