Flip clock

Solari di Udine S.P.A.

Cifra 3 (1965), Gino Valle

The first document that records the existence of the Fratelli Solari Company as an ‘old and prized tower clocking industry’ dates back to 1725. But it wasn’t until 1948 when Remigio Solari, a self-taught engineer, invented the flap display: alphanumeric characters and text fitted onto metal flaps and attached on a wheel mechanism. 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 an time been displayed in such a fashion and it became an industry standard in rail and air terminals worldwide.

The Cifra 3 is the holy grail of flip clocks. It was designed by Italian architect Gino Valle (1923–2003) in 1965, with significant contribution from Belgian inventor John Myer. The Cifra 3 is widely considered a masterpiece of industrial design, using a split-flap display to display hours and minutes. The clock won the prestigious Compasso d’Oro prize for design and is on permanent display at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Science Museum in London.

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© Solari di Udine, Udine, Italy

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