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C.11 Tian Harlan

A German artist who invented the world-famous 'Colour-Time watch'. The time is not shown by hands or numerals but by colour-time circles. The disc revolves at the speed of one colour area per hour. Therefore it is not possible to read the exact time. Five minutes before twelve reads a short time before yellow. Tian Harlan ended what he calls 'the dictatorship of the exact time' by his invention of the anti-stress Colour-Time watch. In total, Harlan designed approximately one hundred different watches. His work has been exhibited in Berlin, London, Amsterdam and Paris. His Colour-Time watches were worn amongst others by Ringo Star, Max Bill, Charles Aznavour, Carlo Levi and by the members of the Ian Butterfly Band who even composed the 'Colour Time' song.

1939Kristian Harlan born in Berlin.
1963-1969Studies Architecture in Berlin and becomes a qualified engineer.
1970Establishes the planning group METAPLAN in M/nchen, Germany.
1971Develops and realises the communication system 'Chromachron' (Chroma = colour ; chronos = time). Establishes the Chromachron A.G. in Germany.
1972Designs the 'Colour-Time' sculpture for the Olympic Games in M/nich. This Colour-Time column was placed on the Coubertin Platz.
1973The first Colour-Time graphics and objects are released. Harlan designs the first Colour-Time watches with a mechanical movement. Until 1978 the watches are manufactured at the order of Chromachron A.G. Germany by Gisiger-Greder in Selzach, Switzerland, and sold under the name 'Eden'.
1974Files an application for a patent no. 2411799, on March 12th in Germany. The first commercial flight of the Concorde to New York introduces the new Colour-Time watches to the American market in New York. The slogan used at that time: 'The Most Relaxed Watch on the Fastest Plane to America'.
1978Baden-Baden in Germany becomes the first Colour-Time City on the 18th of March, with the unveiling of a giant Colour-Time clock on the Augustaplatz.
1979Tian Harlan moves from Germany to Switzerland and forms Chromachron A.G. of Switzerland. Pierre Cardin licences the use of the name Pierre Cardin for watches designed by Tian Harlan to Harlan. These watches were sold by Chromachron A.G. The most famous models are the 'Les Plus de Cardin' and 'Les Plus Noir de Cardin'. These watches have been and still are duplicated illegally all over the world.
1981Start of the production of the Colour-Time watches with a quartz movement.
1988Introduction of the Time-Spiral in clocks. A revolving disc is divided into thirteen parts and the outer circle of the fixed dial into twelve parts. The marks that correspond indicate the minutes, the colour segment indicates the hour in the usual way. The system resembles the two scales of the nonius of sliding callipers. In 1994 the system is used in watches.
1993Chromachron is sold to the Seeberger Holding 'Egana' in Hong Kong. On the 20th August the 'Academy of the Ark' is founded. The first designs of the 'Time-Lantern' clock.
1994Release of the 'Color Your Day' watches.

The watches designed by Tian Harlan:

1973-1978 Colour-time watches with twelve colour segments on the dial, a black rotating disc with a mechanical movement.

1The case is made out of acrylate or cycolac. About twenty different watches.
2The same kind of watch made out of chromium plated stainless steel and one limited edition of 1440 watches, signed 'Tian Harlan' in the stainless steel on the front of the watch.
3Four different pendant watches. Two made out of blackened aluminium and two made out of steel.


4Curved rectangular watches with a small rotating disc and a mechanical movement. Very rare.


5Series of square or round watches with gold plated or steel coloured case and rotating disc, and a red, blue or black dial. Signed on the back: 'Chromachron, Genève' or 'Chromachron, Jean Perret, Genève'. Not more than 500 watches were produced of each model.


6A series of four watches, grey, black, or white coloured with scratchproof special glass and fitted with a quartz movement ESA 561.001/101. The points on the revolving disc indicate the minutes like the nonius of sliding callipers. The first application of this system in a wrist watch.


7About twenty different less interesting men's and ladies' watches with two basic cases, dull chromium or gold plated and a FHF 69 mechanical movement. The dial is blue, white, red or black and signed 'Tian Harlan Genève'.


8Gold plated and dull or shiny chromium plated circular cases with dials in five different colours: white, black, grey, blue or red, fitted with a FHF 961.001 quartz movement. The unusually small hands give these watches a unique look. Only a few hundred of each model are produced.
9Watches in a rectangular silver-plated case with a FHF 961.001 quartz movement. Only a few hundred are manufactured in several different editions.


10The four quartz watches mentioned under number 6 are sligtly changed and re-issued without the minute-indication. Approximately 50.000 are sold world wide.


11Release of the 'Color Your Day' watches. White gold plated and yellow gold plated, either brushed or polished.

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