Rube Goldberg machines are over-engineered contraptions with little to no utility, and that’s why they’re so beautiful.
For about a century now, people have been building Rube Goldbergs in what is perhaps the exemplar marriage of science and art. Through complicated scientific processes, people all over the world create useless machines whose sole purpose is to wow the mind, and as science develops, the possibilities continue to grow.
The most recent accomplishment in Rube Goldberg-ing comes by way of Japan, where the watch company Seiko created the tiniest RGM of all-time. The company used 1,200 mechanical watch parts—some smaller than one millimeter in size—to construct an incredibly intricate and elegant machine. Seiko filmed the sequence for an advertisement and titled it “Art of Time.”
At the outset, a tiny clapperboard initiates the video and an even tinier gear begins rolling down a runway. Strong camerawork and masterful set design take over from there, capturing the chain reactions and all of the glossy, time-oriented gadgetry. Several humans appear along the ride, evoking the timeworn nostalgia of assembly lines. (The only people that feel nostalgic for assembly lines are probably people that never worked in assembly lines.) Ultimately, it seems, Seiko is attempting to display the care and human touch that goes into each and every watch. When you’re selling an intricate product, the allusion to over-engineering can work in your favor.
The video is set to a song composed by Seiko CEO Shinji Hattori. Seiko employees wrote the lyrics and Etsuko Yakushimaru sang them.
We’ve seen some cool Rube Goldberg Machines in our day, but this one is tough to beat. What do you think? Check out the video and let us know in the comments.