“It started off as presents for my closest friends,” Gulati told Digital Trends. “Back in college, I was really tired of not learning practical skills in school. There was a lot of theory, but I wasn’t implementing any of it. So I started building my close friends birthday presents, both as a method of learning engineering, and a way of making their birthdays a little more special. I couldn’t figure out a present for Andrew, my best friend, until 8 months after his birthday, when a girl sitting down next to me in class started researching wooden watches. I had built wooden clocks before, but never really designed something myself — so I took on the challenge.”
Gulati’s first version of the watch was bulky and thick, but he honed the design in subsequent iterations. The version he’s now bringing to market looks comparatively slick and polished, but retains just the right amount of its rustic DIY charm. This isn’t a smartwatch in the sense of having a bunch of smart sensors to track everything from your steps to your glucose levels, but it’s definitely smart in terms of its workings and overall effect. Pressing the button on it once turns on the word layout to find the nearest 5-minute mark. Pressing it again turns on the digital layout, while pressing it one final time turns off the display.
The Wooden Word Watch costs $219 to pre-order, with a shipping date of November 2017. Sadly, there’s no price tier available for becoming Gulati’s newest best friend, which means you won’t be on his recipients list the next time he creates a DIY birthday masterpiece. Still, ordering a watch will probably endear you to him a little bit.