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Review: Now & Zen Timepiece

Zen Timepiece in Cherry

Zen Timepiece in Cherry

Review: Now & Zen Timepiece
Review by Brian Schell
Manufacturer Link: http://www.now-zen.com
Price $189

Packing & Contents:

My review sample arrived in a nice retail box with plenty of safety packaging. The heavy brass bowl was separated from the wooden clock unit to avoid damage. I played with the bowl a while before ever opening the rest of the clock; you can make a nice resounding gong sound by striking it with anything, even a pencil. Eventually though, I wanted to see the clock, and had to proceed. The box says Batteries not included, yet batteries were in the box, ready to go. A comprehensive manual and product catalog were also in the box. The clock is available in several colors, cherry, maple, and black lacquer. I got the cherry version. From the catalog, it appears that the bowls are all the same, brass.

Setup:

I played with the buttons a bit, and figured out how to set the clock on my own, but did have to peek inside the manual for anything more than that. The instruction booklet is English only, at 40 pages, clearly organized with everything you need to know, plus a good deal of additional suggestions for usage.

There are two small screw-type adjustments, one Hi and one Lo that are located under the bowl; these control the force at which the little plunger strikes the bowl. You can fiddle with these until you get the sound you want from the bowl. The sound can also be adjusted by moving the bowl nearer or farther from the plunger that shoots out to strike the bowl. You can set the clock to run silently, go off at a specified time, or set it to chime on the hour.

Usage:

Setting the alarm is essentially the same as on any other digital clock. The ringing of the alarm is a little unusual, since there is just one long chime rather than the constant chatter a regular ringing alarm clock would make. When the alarm goes off, the bowl gongs once. Then it does it again 3 minutes and 48 seconds later. Then again at 2:21, 1:28, :54, :34, :21, :13, :08. and then repeatedly every 5 seconds. This Golden Ratio Progression is explained in the instructions, and you can Google Golden Ratio for more of an explanation of the mystical significance. More practically, it’s the bowl-striking equivalent of the sleep mode on a most standard clock. They call this progressive awakening. I have mine set to ring on the hour, every hour, so I end up sleeping through single gongs all night long.

Other than the regular alarm mode, it also has a countdown timer, which is pretty straightforward. You set the number of minutes and seconds, and the counter counts down to zero and chimes. There is also a repeat feature that you can set to count down for however long, chime, and then do it again. This is the meditation timer feature, which you can use during meditation. Overall, it’s easy

to set up and use, and the booklet has many interesting suggestions for how to use the clock in meditation, dreamwork, and progressive awakening.

Zen Timepiece in Cherry

Zen Timepiece in Cherry

The Good & The Bad:

There is one major drawback to the clock, and that’s the bowl placement. The bowl has to be placed reasonably close to the plunger in order to strike, but not too close. It’s meant to be adjustable, and that’s OK, but any movement of the bowl away from the plunger, which is not fixed down at all, will keep the chime from sounding. I can imagine several unfortunate scenarios for someone relying on this clock to wake them in the morning. It wouldn’t take much of a jar for the bowl to slip just a little, leaving the alarm silent.

The biggest feature of the clock is the chime. The solid brass bowl has a great resonance to it, and just tapping it with a fingernail makes a great sound. There’s no reason you couldn’t use the bowl in any kind of group meditation for a bell or gong sound. When the clock’s chime strikes, the deep bell resonates for 10 to 15 seconds, and you can imagine you hear it long after the sound has actually faded.

The price is steep for a clock of this size, but it is a very well-designed clock, and the sound is unique to my knowledge. It’s a Buddhist luxury toy if there ever was one. The unusual design and bowl are bound to be conversation starters, if nothing else.

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