Astronomical Watch Gorgeously Depicts the Real-Time Orbits of Planets

Van Cleef & Arpels
Van Cleef & Arpels

Most watches can tell time, but how many keep track of the planetary orbits? Luxury watch maker Van Cleef & Arpels created the Midnight Planétarium timepiece, which does just that. The wristwear is encased in 18-carat gold and sports a variety of different semi-precious gems. As the watchmakers explain on their website, the company has "achieved its dream of reducing the scale of the heavens to the dimensions of a wristwatch." Pretty fancy stuff.

Each planet is represented with a different colored stone: Earth is turquoise, Mercury is serpentine, Venus is chloromelanite, Mars is red jasper, Jupiter is blue agate, and Saturn is sugilite. Other celestial objects on the watch include a pink gold shooting star and sun.

This watch isn't just for looks: The planets actually move in time with their real-life depictions. A self-winding mechanism containing 396 separate parts moves each miniature planet in true time to its actual orbit length. That means it will take your tiny Saturn 29 years to make its way around the watch's dial, with Jupiter taking about 12 years, Mars 687 days, Earth 365 days, and Mercury 88 days. (Neptune and Uranus aren't included as their orbits are longer than most human lifetimes at 165 years and 84 years respectively.)

The back of the watch features an engraving of the starry night sky. You can set the date and view it through two apertures on the dial. You can also tell the time thanks to the shooting star which completes a revolution around the dial in 24 hours. Adorably, the owner can choose a specific day as their "lucky day" and on that date the Earth will move directly underneath the star engraved on sapphire crystal to symbolize good fortunes.

The watch retails for $225,000, which really isn't so much to have the entire solar system adorning your arm.

[h/t Lost at E Minor]

Want to Repurpose Old or Damaged Books? Turn Them Into DIY Wall Art

Svitlana Unuchko/iStock via Getty Images
Svitlana Unuchko/iStock via Getty Images

Many bibliophiles see their books as more than just reading material. Whether they're color-coded, stored backwards, or stacked around the house in teetering piles, books can double as decorations that add coziness and character to a space. This interior design trend spotted by Today pushes this concept to new heights by transforming old books into pieces of sprawling wall art.

Erin Kern, the Oklahoma designer behind the blog Cotton Stem, first had the idea to make books into DIY art in 2015. Her concept works with any books you have at home that you can bear to part with. Just grab a staple gun, secure the book covers to the wall you wish to embellish, and then use staples, glue, or tape to arrange the pages of the book however you like them. You can keep the book open to your favorite page or use some clever craft work to make the pages look like they're frozen mid-flip. As you expand the piece, you can add single pages or pages without their covers to vary the design.

Kern and other designers who've created their own versions of the project often combine old books with other types of wall decor. You can nestle framed prints of literary quotes or tuck air plants among the pages. Ana Ochoa of the blog Fiddle Leaf Interiors used hanging books as a makeshift canvas for a larger-than-life painting.

If seeing books stapled to a wall makes you cringe, rest assured that no one is suggesting you buy brand-new books to use as your crafting materials. This project is a great way to repurpose old books you never plan to read again—especially books with tears and missing pages that are too damaged to donate.

Looking for more literary design inspiration? Check out these pieces of furniture made out of books.


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[h/t Today]

Who Invented the Cardboard Box?

Feverpitched/iStock via Getty Images
Feverpitched/iStock via Getty Images

Few inventions have blended as seamlessly into our daily living routines as the humble cardboard box. We get excited to see piles of them near our front door. We stuff them with papers. Our cats love to claim them as their private living rooms. Yet we rarely stop to consider how much more convenient they are than a burlap sack. Who do we credit for this marvel of simple but indispensable ingenuity?

In the 1st and 2nd century BCE, the Han Dynasty of China was busy pioneering the use of paper. During the same era, sheets of bark from the Mulberry tree were used to wrap and protect food, one of the earliest examples of a sturdy, wood-based product being repurposed for packaging. But what we’d come to recognize as the earliest form of the cardboard box as we know it today didn’t appear until the early 19th century, with the 1817 German board game The Game of Besieging being the oldest example. Throughout the 19th century, companies began using the boxes as a means of storage and transport for cereals and even for moth eggs used by silk manufacturers.

But an additional twist—or pleat—was needed in order to turn these carriers into the cubical wonders we know today. In 1856, top hat peddlers Edward Allen and Edward Healey used a stiffer paper made with a fluted sheet in the middle of two layers to provide stability and warmth to the lining: It was a precursor to corrugated cardboard.

The real breakthrough, however, came in 1879. It was then that Robert Gair, owner of a Brooklyn paper factory, figured out that he could both score a single sheet of cardboard and then have his printing press cut it at the same time, eliminating laborious hand-cutting. When the flat pieces were folded together, the cardboard box as we know it was born.

Gair sold consumer product companies on this handy new form of storage, eventually scoring a 2-million-piece order from the cracker czars at Nabisco. Snack foods could now travel without the danger of being crushed, and, pretty soon, the cardboard box was migrating from kitchen cupboards to anywhere a cheap, effective form of packaging was needed. In the 1930s, the Finnish government even adopted the boxes as part of a take-home maternity package for new mothers who may not have been able to afford cribs. Babies took their first naps in the confines of the mattress-lined box—a practice that continues today.

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