Design: Solari Reintroduces the Ultimate Retro Clock

The only thing more iconic than its look? Its sound.

It’s one of the iconic sounds of train travel: the clickety-clack of a split-flap schedule board telling passengers the train times, when to board and sometimes, that they’d missed a connection. The mechanical flapping sound jolts travellers from phones or books—at least, it used to. After decades of loud service, the mechanical schedule boards at New Haven’s Union Station—and at terminals around the country—are being replaced by modern LED screens.

Fortunately, nostalgics have another option. The company that manufactured the majority of those famous, split-flap boards, Solari di Udine, is once again making the Cifra 3, its iconic midcentury, pre-digital clock. It uses a downscale version of Solari’s display technology, complete with that famous sound.

Though production of the original run ceased in 1972, Solari has seen fit to bring the gorgeously minimalist clock back to the American market, starting this fall. That means style-conscious luddites will be able to incorporate some of the sound effects of 20th-century train travel into their homes. So, even as old Solari boards get torn down from public spaces, our private spheres can tick with an old, familiar click.