The Flip Clock
The story of the flip clock begins in Italy with the founding of the company Solari di Udine in 1948. Remigio Solari, a self-taught engineer, fitted alphanumeric characters and text onto metal (later plastic) flaps attached on a wheel mechanism, enclosed it within a glass display and the flap display was born.
The Solari board, the name by which it would become known as, was first installed at Liège-
Guillemins station in Belgium in 1956. Never before had information – or even time – been
displayed in such a fashion. It was a hit and became an industry standard in rail and air
terminals worldwide. Even travellers meandering through major airports and train stations
around the world today rely on the Solari board for departure and/or arrival information.
After Remigio’s death in 1957, his brother Fermo incorporated the Solari board’s ingenious
technology with the clock. Designed by architect Gino Valle, the Cifra series is an elegant
combination of function and design. The technology for today’s flip clocks remains essentially the same as those in yesteryears. However their design has given way to more creative minds and they now come in many shapes and sizes. Today the company Solari di Udine is still in business and is the pioneer in manufacturing commercial flap displays.
The Cifra 3 is the holy grail of flip clocks. It was designed by Gino Valle in 1965 and has won the Compasso d'Oro award for design. Till today, the Cifra 3 is a timeless masterpiece. It is now kept at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and and the Science Museum in London.
I have always loved flip clocks. There is just something so simple and classic about them. They are mesmerizing and I feel like I could just stare at one the entire day. I obviously love the vintage flip clocks, but there are some new flip clocks out there as well that I would love to have (I see another collection being formed). Here are a few that are currently for sale if you also have a slight obsession with them.