The 1st Gadget That I Fell in Love With…


That year was 1984 at Katong Shopping Centre. I clearly remember where I first saw this gadget and it had me mesmerised for the next 2 and a half decades. I was only 9 years old. Looking at it through the glass window of an old clock shop, I stared at it for a long 10 minutes. It was that moment that time froze this love and memory in my mind. It was selling for SGD120 back then – a price tag I certainly cannot afford. For the next 25 years, I have seen more fancy, hi-tec clock devices (mirror clock, LED clock etc), nothing comes this close to my heart.

For so many years, I have been searching for the one I saw in Katong Shopping Centre. Since I started working (back in my poly-days), I have been looking out for it. Many times, I found myself looking into clock shops in Singapore, hoping to find it again. Even in Hong Kong, whenever I walked past an antique clock shop, I will peep inside. For so many years, Felicia followed me to those shops…and I can never describe this device to her or the shop-owners.

2 weeks ago, while doing some innovation research online, I bumped into this clip on U-Tube. Though not the original wooden one, I managed to trace the links and found an online shop selling it! (Many online shops have ran out of stock on this). I paid USD100 and had it air-flown over to my office. It was a life commitment – a promise I made when I was only 9 (I promised to own this one day) …and now, it is right in front of my eyes….It is a kind of joy and satisfaction I can’t explain. Afterall, I have been searching for this for 25 years!


Invented by Harley Mayenschein (, his masterpiece has commercialised by many manufacturers (including Mattel in the 1980s). Harley was an employee of Motorola and one of his greatest works transmitted this famous 1969 quote from space "one small step for man, a giant leap for mankind". Inspired by the gumballs his granddaughter played in his home workshop, Harley invented this "Rolling Ball Clock" in 1978. First started as a hobby (and gifts for friends), Harley’s clock became a big hit amongst his community. He then quitted his job at Motorola and set up his company to start producing these clocks.

Coincidently this June 2009 (just last month!), Harley’s son (also named Joe) is setting a business to bring back his dad’s legacy. On the website, he spoke about his late father’s invention and his intention to bring back the originals! I am so thrilled that I place an order on line with him! Can you imagine it – talk about the right timing – I may be able to get the ORIGINAL WOODEN-CRAFTED BALL ROLLING CLOCK! (Just 1 hour again, Felicia was commenting that it should look good if it is made of wood)

Time roll by fast. But there are some love in life that stays strong and loyal through the test of time. Now, looking at how Elkan mesmerising by this device, it brought back the sweet good old days memories of my childhood at Katong. Surely, I wasn’t very far from Elkan’s age when I fell in love with this.

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