Japanese High-tech Hourglass Helps in Disaster Recovery

A consortium called the “SUWA plus-minus 5 Microns Team,” made up of Suwa Glass Village, Komatsu Seiki Kosakusho Co., Ltd., Hotel Beniya and others, announced the design, creation and marketing of an elegant new hourglass, the first product to be launched under the SUWA brand.

Lake Suwa and Mt. Fuji in the background
Lake Suwa and Mt. Fuji in the background

SUWA is the name of a large lake and nearby town in Japan’s Nagano Prefecture, and industries in the Lake Suwa region are rightly famous for their precision components. The upper and lower glass bulbs of the hourglass utilize a cobalt-chrome alloy developed by Tohoku University. Instead of sand, the hourglass utilizes a newly developed ultrafine powdered metal material developed in Kamaishi City, Iwate Prefecture, which is further processed in Suwa. The particles’ uniform size ensures a margin of error of about 0.5 seconds for the one-minute hourglass, making it far more accurate than the 1- to 2-second margin for conventional products that use sand. One of the aims of the project is to assist in the economic recovery of northeast Japan, which was badly damaged in the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami in March 2011. Production is limited to 100 pieces. The retail price is 42,800 yen ($428)

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