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SPORT - INTERVIEW

Interview with Matthaeus Kala, Partner at Hannes Kala KG, about Kala Pocket Sundial

Kala Pocket Sundial offers the opportunity to move away from today's technology and live some of the experiences of sailors and explorers who have lived in the past centuries. I talked with Matthaeus Kala to learn more about Kala Pocket Sundial.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Kala Pocket Sundial

Kala Pocket Sundial

SPORT - INTERVIEW

by Mehmet Kaplan

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The history of the sundial is dating back thousands of years ago. Designed by the Kala family, Kala Pocket Sundial, which inspired from sailors' portable sundials, gives us the opportunity to hold this historical heritage in our hands. With its original structure, Kala Pocket Sundial is like a time warp gadget for modern age explorers and outdoor lovers. I talked with Matthaeus Kala to learn more information about the story and features of Kala Pocket Sundial.

Matthaeus Kala and Hannes Kala

Matthaeus Kala and Hannes Kala

Matthaeus, before talking about Kala Pocket Sundial, I would like to learn about you and Hannes. Who are Hannes & Matthaeus Kala?

First of all, we are brothers. Hannes is five years older and educated as a theologist. Aside of his engagement as Managing director our sundial company he works for a local Austrian human rights organisation. Hannes runs the day to day operations and is the calming & the intellectual force behind our business.

I am the younger one, currently based in London, where I have lived for the last 11 years. Aside of my work with the sundials I work for a global Tech company. Having graduated from business school, I am in charge of marketing & always trying to innovate our operations whilst translating the history & charm of our sundials for a modern audience.

Kala Pocket Sundial

Kala Pocket Sundial

How did you decide to create Kala Pocket Sundial in this technology era? What inspired you?

Actually, it was our father he came up with the idea. Here is what happened:

On a Sunday our dad sat down with a group of friends to enjoy a good bottle of wine and sharing amusing stories at a village pub. One friend produced a mysterious, brass-coloured ring from one of his pockets claiming that, with the help of the sun, he could use this “thing” to tell the time. And, much to our surprise, it really worked! This instrument instantly captivated the group. Everybody wanted to try it out, and once in their hands, there was almost no giving it back. My dad was particularly fascinated by the palm-sized item. Like his friends, he also wanted to buy the instrument but its owner was not prepared to part with it no matter how hard they negotiated. Luckily, however, he was given the chance to borrow it in order to construct a replica.

Subsequent research in numerous museums sheds light on the history of the sundial, and we learned that during the old times this particular type was very common in rural areas where it was also known colloquially as a “woodcutter’s clock” or “farmer’s clock”. For all of its fascination, the sundial had one major flaw: it could only be used at a single latitude; this, though, was hardly a problem in the past considering the rootedness of country people.

During a trip to Italy, it became apparent already that the accuracy of the “farmer’s clock” had its limits - in Milan the instrument was already hours ahead of the actual local time. Marketing the sundial internationally, therefore, was not going to be possible. It was around the same time that, quite by chance, our father happened to find an old book featuring antique clocks including a wonderful model of an old ship sundial which had an ingenious double-ringed mechanism. Being adjustable this sundial functioned worldwide! This gave my dad the idea of reducing the universal time and navigation instrument to a handy size. Long hours of intense discussions and many sketches later, his project was finally accomplished: four and a half years after first seeing the “farmer’s clock” he proudly held his first self-produced universal pocket sundial in his hands.

Nowadays, me and Hannes, as his two sons, oversees the manufacture of Kala sundials, whose energy and enthusiasm will hopefully carry the history of understanding time into a sunny future.

Kala Pocket Sundial

Kala Pocket Sundial

Could you tell us about the history of sundial?

Sundials have been around for a very long time (thousands of years) but were never designed for people on the move. The Universal Equinoctial Ring Sundial - the bigger brother of our sundial - is a portable version of an armillary sundial and was used by sailors around 500 years ago. At the time very rarely moved across latitudes but sailors did; hence became quickly a critical tool for explorers & travelers as it provided them with accurate time as well as directional guidance (when used correctly the sundial also acts as a sun compass). We love its historic background and see our little sundial still very much as a symbol for globetrotters & modern explorers.

Kala Pocket Sundial

Kala Pocket Sundial

What are the features of Kala Pocket Sundial?

With the Kala Sundial, we tried to stay as close as possible to its historic design routes. We mainly reduced the sundial’s size to meet the definition of a classical watch which is not allowed to exceed 60 mm (around 2.36 inches) in diameter. The rest is very much the same as it was 500 years ago. The sundial is made from fine brass and present in a classic organic cork inlay which we source from Portugal. All references to its maritime history. We absolutely love the combination!

Kala Pocket Sundial

Kala Pocket Sundial

How does it work? What are the fundamentals of using Kala Sundial?

It is actually very simple but we appreciate that for first-time users it can be a bit tricky. So for a detailed explanation just visit our website - pocket-sundial.com but in three simple steps, this is how it works:

Set the right altitude on the outer ring: On our website, you can find a latitude search or just use a classic map of your current location to find out your geographic latitude. Latitude rings are the ones parallel to the equator. This step ensures that your sundial knows your current position on the earth.

Set the right date with a black slider on the inner bridge: You will see that the bridge covers the first letter of each month e.g. “J” for January etc. This step ensures the needed adjustment for the position of the sun. In June/July the sun is the highest and the other way around for Jan & Feb. The opposite is true when you are on the southern hemisphere. Each month is divided into three boxes symbolising the beginning, the middle and the end of each month. Just position the black slider accordingly.

Flip the two brass rings into each other so they are facing each other in a 90-degree angle. Now your sundial is set up and ready to go.

To reach your time, hold the sundial on its black cord and turn it slowly. A sunbeam needs to fall thru the little hole on the black slider which is positioned on the brass bridge in the middle of the sundial and project a light point (surrounded by shadow) on the inside of the inner ring. You can twist and adjust the bridge to make the projection clearer.

Once you see this light point read the corresponding Roman letter which will tell you the true time (winter time plus some adjustments). But in essence, this is it!

Now, what is really clever. Once you see the time, the outer ring of the sundial will point in North/ South and the inner ring in East/West direction. The bridge is parallel to the Earth axe. This way you have a sundial, a sun compass and a model of the world all in one.

What we have to know for using Kala Pocket Sundial properly?

All you need is your local latitude and your date.

Kala Pocket Sundial

Kala Pocket Sundial

Social media has become part of our daily life. What do you think about the power of social media? How can our readers follow Kala?

To be honest, we took a break from social media. Much rather than showing our customers pictures of our sundials travels around the world we prefer if they just get on with it, spend less time on their screens and explore our beautiful planet together with their sundial.

How can our readers buy Kala Pocket Sundial? Do you offer international shipping option?

You can simply buy the Kala Pocket Sundial on our website. We are proud to offer a lifetime guarantee and ship worldwide as we want to make sure that everyone who wants one can actually get a Kala Sundial.

What is next for you?

We have a few ideas, but nothing can be revealed just yet.

Thank you Matthaeus.

For more information, please visit the website of Kala Pocket Sundial





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