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3D Printer 17th Century Watch Helps us Understand How it Worked

| Model Making, News | July 29, 2013

3D Printed Fertile Watch

The 3D printed watch gives people the opportunity to handle precious museum pieces

Researchers at Birmingham City University in the UK have digitally scanned precious antique items from the Cheapside Hoard and created 3D printed replicas, which will be shown at the Museum of London in October.

Museums and artists are using 3D printing to help bring artwork and antiquities to life and give us the opportunity to touch and interact with them in a way that would not be allowed with the original items. An artist is recreating 3D printed sculptures from artworks around the world and we can now get a 3D printed T-Rex skull for our own home.

This watch is a replica of the “Fertile Watch” and is named after the jeweller who made it around 1600, It was part of the Cheapside Hoard, which was a trove of Elizabethan and Jacobean jewelry found in a London cellar by builders in 1912.

“We think of our own time as one of impressive technological advances, but we must look at the Elizabethan and Jacobean age as being just as advanced in some ways,” said Ann-Marie Carey, who worked on the project. “We fear some of these 400-year-old processes may now be lost to us.”

Original Fertile Watch

The Fertile Watch was made in the 1600's by G. Fertile

The watch had some advanced features for the time, including calendar and alarm functions, and the 3D printed replica will help the researchers understand how the watch worked. As the watch was so innovative, they are saying it was “the iPod of its day”.

To help them see what’s going on in the watch the researchers scanned the metal components and removed the enamel on the surface from their 3D models to show what the metal looked like prior to enamelling.

The Fertile Watch can be seen 36 seconds in to this video showing the hoard.

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