back to article London's Olympic clock claps out

The London Olympics countdown clock has clapped out after less than a day, the BBC reports. The precision timepiece was triumphantly unveiled in Trafalgar Square yesterday, but failed to clear the first 24-hour hurdle and is now stuck on 500 days and 7:06:56. A red-faced spokesman for the Swatch Group said: "We are obviously …


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  1. XMAN


    I haven't seen that Olympics logo for so long (I'm out of the country) and was genuinely shocked when I thought it was something sexual going on. I forgot all about that humorous logo.

  2. Matt Siddall

    Perfect metaphor for big government spending

    or just the Olympics?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    That might be...

    "The site has so far dismally failed to fall over"

    That might be because nobody is using it?

  4. dotdavid

    Website still up...

    I wonder if demand for tickets isn't quite what was expected...

    1. Annihilator

      Sort of

      Reports coming in that you need a credit card that doesn't expire until at least August, so you're screwed if you have a credit card that expires in the next 6 months. Apparently it's by design...

  5. YumDogfood


    ...the first of many.

  6. Oldgroaner

    Olympic fiasco

    Epitomizes the whole ghastly affair. Romans had bread and circuses, we'll just have the circus as pioneered in Berlin in 1936.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      No it does not

      It epitomizes something else. It epitomizes the decade we live in.

      The affair (clock inclusive) is being delivered under PRINCE2 management guidelines, LEAN supplied and ISO 2000 quality certified. I would not be surprised if it is TOGAF or ZAMAN architected as well. The personnel delivering it definitely is perfromance managed according to the industry best practices and none of them will not even lose their bonus because the scorecard will say that they should not.

      Need I say anything more?

      How about it being delivered in a BLOODY WORKING ORDER instead of having a certified micromanagerial excuse list when it goes wrong.

      1. Z 1

        Spot on

        You owe me a new keyboard.

      2. Paul RND*1000

        re: no it does not

        I think you may be onto something here. Too much process and complexity, not enough good old fashioned getting stuff done in the simplest, most effective way possible. A metaphor for our times, where even "Hello World" requires several hundred kB and an installer package.

        Give me a ZX Spectrum, an old black and white telly and the next half hour free; I'll give them a damn clock which works*. Hell, a 1K ZX81 would be sufficient.

        * well, as long as the power supply doesn't overheat and nobody holds down one of the keys, which would screw up the PAUSE 50 statement and cause the clock to be a bit ahead of schedule.

      3. Equitas

        Clock has presumably been manufactured

        to the standards of, and is an advert for, "high class" Omega watches which I'm sure many will now be encouraged to purchase.

  7. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse

    Oops... maybe the shape of things to come?

    There was a very funny (mock-umentary) comedy on the BBC last night that is set in the delivery office of the London Olympics. They also had an Olympic clock that not only could they not get working, but they didn't actually understand.

    Art predicting, rather than imitating life perhaps...

    1. bluesxman

      "Art predicting, rather than imitating life perhaps..."

      Shurely you simply mean "life imitating art"...?

    2. David 30

      I think you mean ...

      ...the 'Deliverance Office'.

    3. Cpt Blue Bear

      Sounds like The Games...

      which ran to two series on the ABC here before the Sydney Olympics. The writers seemed to have a pretty amazing knack of predicting the following week's Olympic scandal / screw up / swindle. It's still very funny ten years on.

      I must look up the BBC's remake. As long a Ricky Gervais has nothing to do with it I figure it sounds promising.

  8. Chris Miller
    Thumb Down

    This will have come as no surprise

    to those who watched the 'documentary' Twenty Twelve on BBC4 last night.

  9. The BigYin

    Oh gods...

    ...18 more months about this jumped-up sports jamboree.

    1. Anton Ivanov

      Fixed that for ya

      ...18 more months about this jumped-up MARKETING jamboree.

      If you want to do sports take your son out on the grass and kick some ball. Or get him to try to kick you (I throughly enjoyed helping him polish his karate skills this morning for 30 mins at 8:00 am out on the grass in front of the house). That is sport.

      The thing happening in London is not sport. It is marketing and brand placement.

      1. Elmer Phud

        How could you . . .

        you are dissing Boris's Barclays Olympics.

        They are doing thier best to price out the riff-raff from attending. No corporate ticket? sod off working-class scum.

        Have you no compassion for the one who claims it all to be his idea and then paints it all blue?

      2. John H Woods Silver badge

        oh be fair ...

        ... there's a substantial element of pharmacological research

  10. Stephane Mabille


    Might they have poached the "engineer" responsible for the Apple iPhone Clock application?

    Will probably restart tomorrow but counting up...

  11. Tegne

    Did Apple have anything to do with the coding for this timepiece?

    Their track history on timekeeping hasn't been so great lately.

    1. AndrueC Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Or Sony

      My PS3 loses about four minutes a week. The fact it has such a shit clock is bad enough..but the bloody thing has a permanent Internet connection /and the ability to reset the time using NTP/.

      So it has access to some of the most accurate clocks on the planet..but it won't synchronize unless I tell it to.

  12. Harry

    Never mind ...

    We all know that the Olympics themselves will ... go just like clockwork ???

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Omen

    "The London Olympics countdown clock has clapped out after less than a day"

    If you think that's embarrassing, wait 'til you see what happens when they light the Olympic flame...

    1. Elmer Phud

      Is that . .

      . . the bloke on YouTube who lights his farts?

    2. Bobby Omelette

      Nah ...

      ... Health & Safety will put the mockers on that.

      The 'flame' will be a piece of shaped silk being blown upwards by a fan, with a yellow LED underneath it (for effect).

      An even that will probably fail due to procurement insisting they buy the batteries from Poundland.

  14. Anonymous Coward

    web site wont go down....

    ...because of the huge price of tickets! ouch , those are some high prices.

    even worse, if you've got a little baby, who'll be on your lap, you have to pay full price for almost all events.

    ..and, in another almight f"**k up, key events are limited to 4 tough luck if you've got

    a bigger than 4 member family... you'll have to ditch the remaining kid(s) somewhere... and enjoy the spectacle hoping they are safe and sound.

    I'm not even going to go into the whole financial shenanigans (such as when you put yourself down for tickets, they'll take the money...then work out that you arent going to that event, then give you a refund more than 1 month later. thanks for that VISA you filthy money grabbing wh**es)

    oh yes, VISA. you can only pay with VISA. thats nice. real nice. wheres the competition commission and european equality armies when you need 'em?

    very disappointed with how much the UK can seriously f**K up some sports

    1. Jim Hague
      Thumb Down

      Re: web site wont go down...

      The Olympic Visa-only rort is not a UK invention, and is nothing new. You could definitely only pay with Visa at the Sydney Olympics. Blame the IOC, not Coe's lot.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Goat Jam

      If it is anything like "Sydeny"

      then it'll get worse too.

      Assuming that you can overcome all the aforementioned hurdles, you will find it almost impossible to get in to any really interesting event and you will be forced to settle for "Laos vs Belgium" in the Womens Basketball or something equally uninteresting, but hey, at least you get to "soak up the olympic atmos, right?"

      Once you get there, you find that the stadium is empty but lo!, the only seats that are in use are around the rim of the stadium, up in the nose bleed zone. You see, the seats down front are all pre booked for *every* event by corporates and VIP's and whether they intend to actually attend the event is completely irrelevant. When they choose not to attend they just sit there empty, even though there are thousands of punters out there who would love the opportunity to use them were they just give the opportunity to do so.

      The whole thing is an elitist circle jerk club that is paid for by the likes of you and me but without us having the opportunity to share in in what we have paid for.

      Personally, after my experience at Sydney I can no longer bring myself to show any interest whatsoever. I don't even bother watching it on TV.

  15. Ocular Sinister
    Thumb Up

    Good to see you've got in the spirit already

    You can't report on anything Olympics without mentioning the name of at least one sponsor, after all the point of the Olympics is to engage in orgy of brand recognition!

  16. This post has been deleted by its author

  17. peterb

    Fully featured API

    They've included code in the firmware to deal with the games being delayed.

  18. Syed

    For Fucks Sake

    My old Casio watch from umpty-five years ago had a stopwatch / countdown timer function.

    Maybe they can project the image from one of these relics onto a big wall in Trafalgar Square - it would be a whole lot cheaper to boot.

    And to re-iterate my previous point from the title -- FOR FUCKS SAKE!!!

    also -- Je5u5 Fucking H Christ!!!

    and -- What a bunch of incompetent fucktards!!!

    and -- CUPID STUNTS!!!

    --END OF RANT--

    P.S. Can we please have a combined WTF and FAIL icon?

  19. Richard 33

    The only "Olympic tickets" I'm buying ...

    ... will be a 2 week holiday plus a few days either side, somewhere a very long way away from London.

  20. Tom 38

    I live in Newham

    Before they started "upgrading" Stratford Station (I'll believe what they've done will improve peak hours only when I've seen it), we had a clock counting down to the start - it was there when I moved to Stratford in 2005. They removed it as it is was in the way of the new mall entrance.

    @AC: its worse than that, you have to apply up front for your tickets, and if you want to see anything at all, you'll need to apply for multiple tickets, without knowing what ones you will get in the ballot. Eg, if you assume a 10% chance of getting tickets (its probably less), then you might want to apply for 10 different events to maximise your chance of getting tickets.

    If you are 'lucky' and win all 10, the first you will know of it is when they take the money from your visa (and only visa) card. If you do get too many tickets, no problem, you can sell them back to the organizers for face value .... 6 months after you've bought them.

    Also, if you want to see a particular event, it is worth applying for more expensive tickets, as the more expensive brackets are less likely to be massively over-subscribed (only moderately over-subscribed).

    TBH, I think I'll watch it on TV, open the window and I'll be able to hear the stadium anyway, its only half a mile away.

  21. Patrick O'Reilly

    Time in the Slime

    Wow, that clock seems as ill fated as Dublin's 'millennium clock'

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    The BBC and Sky haven't cut to endless speculation of what will happen if power can't be restored.

  23. JaitcH

    The clock failure could also portend the potential failure of ...

    the Blair Olympics.

    What a heritage! What a bill!

  24. wiggers

    500 and counting (not)

    Shirly, as soon as it started ticking it should have gone to 499d 23h 59m 59s? So are they planning to start a day late?

  25. Anonymous Coward

    Olympics tech shocker - not

    The BBC has just announced that the clock has actually started counting backwards. Oh, and by the way, you can only use VISA on the ticketing website. It is not accepting cards that expire before 11/2011. So situation normal then.

    1. Anonymous John


      Can anyone set up an e-commerce site that doesn't accept all in-date cards?

  26. Matt West

    Sack off Omega

    @Syed - You've missed the point entirely. Casio watches are reliable, they don't need to spend millions on marketing. Swatch and Omega on the other hand peddle over-priced, unreliable tat to idiots, thus the need for big stunts like this.

    In an ideal world we'd see their now-tainted brands banned from the London Olympics.

    1. Anonymous Coward


      Matt West is probably like me - wears his ancient, RELIABLE Casio watch having replaced the plastic strap umpteen times just because they WEAR OUT, the battery because they don't last forever, but the watch goes on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on........ You get the message!

      I could also have lent the Olympic committee an old digital countdown clock (which still works) and they could have a TV camera looking at that and project the image onto a big screen.

      How much did this failed clock COST?

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's not unusual

    In Athens we couldn't stop the clock on the Marathon truck, three days later it was happily ticking away in a hanger. Might still be there...

  28. Cameron Colley

    So, Omega don't always make functioning timepieces.

    I was about to shell out two grand for one but, apparently, they were involved in the olympic non-countdown in England, so I'll pick up a cheap Poljot instead.

    I'm awaiting the amazing service which will be rendered by England's transport network also -- I'm told it's bloody good.

    With any luck the olympics will demonstrate how well marketing shit and decades of government theft has turned the UK into a pointless waste of resources.

  29. K.o.R

    If it's counting down the 500 days...

    ...then shouldn't it be reading "499 days xx:yy:zz" ?

  30. Robin Szemeti

    There is nothing wrong with the clock

    It's working perfectly, correctly showing the remaining time to the start of the games. Its just that it is counting down to the actual start time, not the planned start time ... the two events may not be coincident ;)

  31. Lloyd

    It counts backwards???

    "So let me get this right, it counts backwards from 27th July 2012 from now? So on the 27th July 2012 it says the date is today?"

    Did no one else watch Twenty Twelve on BBC4 last night, it was genius.

  32. Anonymous Coward

    It's not broken

    It is adjusting the time estimate based on delays in the project but come 2021 I'm sure the games will be great.

  33. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge


    Have they taken into account DST, clocks going forward and back, or will it be an hour out when the actual Olympic event happens ?

    That was a cock-up for many Millennium Count-Down Clocks, though some would say that the big error was in being off by a year.

    1. Anonymous John

      Next year is a leap year.

      I hope they've allowed for that.

      Hang on.... No I don't.

  34. Jock in a Frock


    Ah ha ha! Ah ha ha ha ha! Ah hahahahahahaha haha ah haha

    Ah haaaaaahaaaaa Aha ahem aha hmmmm

    That is all.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Great news

    500 days left? That should create a good dozen full time jobs for maintenance.

    It shows that sometimes, you don't get what you pay for.

  36. The Mighty Spang

    did you see the whole thing?

    an ugly piece of angular metal crap. and it looks like they've installed it in the middle of trafalgar square. way to ruin hundreds of tourists photos.... not seen anything so inappropriate since thousands of fuckwits were allows to arse about on the spare plinth.

  37. ShaggyDoggy

    Says it all

    Still, when they eventually get it restarted, perhaps they can have the actual remining time on there, since I never understood how a 500 day countdown can be showing currently more than 500 days to go.

    I suppose we have the Olympic flame going out episode still to come * etc etc

    * you read it here first

  38. Dr Patrick J R Harkin

    I've emailed them a possible fix.

    "Have you tried turning it off and on again?"

  39. b-a-r-k-i-n-g-m-a-d

    Omega not impressed...

    I have an Omega Seamaster (self-winder) - been back to them twice now (for 6-8 weeks at a time!) and still runs slow - guess based on the Olympic clock I should be glad it runs at all.

  40. Chris Hunt

    Don't forget the sponsor!

    I'm shocked at the title of this story. Surely it should be

    "The OMEGA London 2012 countdown clock claps out"

    No mention of this cack-handed chronometer should be made without mention of the company that made it - how else are they to be sure of receiving the recognition they deserve?

  41. Equitas

    100m sprint ............

    Timed to the nearest day (or thereabouts) by Omega.

  42. John 61


    to my fellow posters for giving me a huge laugh. I hate sport for what it has become. I take my nephews on the park with a football bought from the pound shop. They're quite happy with that. When you think about all the costs involved why didn't they build an enterpirse zone (like the Germans do) and housing? Then again people would benefit from that. I heard a comedian on the radio a year or so ago who said "There's a Bangladeshi community in East London just aching for an Equine Centre" (I forget his name), which sums it up.

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