back to article Bloke with hammer fixes London's Olympic clock

We're delighted to report that London's high-tech Olympic chronometer is once again counting down to the opening of next year's celebration of performance-enhancing drugs sporting excellence. The OMEGA London 2012 countdown clock clapped out yesterday less than 24 hours after it was switched on to a backdrop of fireworks, …


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  1. Robert Hill

    An OMEGA?

    I've always wanted to trade up my TAG for an Omega at some point...but after seeing how their Olympic clock isn't so Olympic, perhaps I'll just stay with my TAG...or trade up to a Timex!

    1. Code Monkey

      After this...

      ...losing your Omega will feel like an upgrade.

  2. Will Godfrey Silver badge


    What kind of world have we stumbled into when 'professionals' can't even design a reliable clock!

    Also, when I did some work on information systems for a transport company, a requirement was that if anything at all went wrong with the kit the display should shut down - no information is better than wrong information.

    P.S. That was 20 years ago!

  3. Dave Murray
    Thumb Down


    So has anyone asked Swatch for our money back?

  4. Andy Watt

    ERROR -- 201 -- 01 --

    I see the Clock is running some kind of apache/SQL mishmash. Swatch should adopt closed-source approaches.

    Seriously though, this obviously was tested, but NOT FOR 24 HOURS STRAIGHT.

    Clueless c****.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      You're saying it's running open source software? So, I should be able to browse on over to their website and request a copy of the code?

      Let's hope it's not web connected eh?

      *evil grin*

    2. The BigYin

      Why... the name of buggery would you need Apache/MySQL for that? (Isn't "201" a stanard error code anyway, not related to the server?)

      A couple of quid for a standard PCB (found in any washing machine, VCR...) and a few more quid for a display, done. Heck, they could have got a local tech college to make it and promoted UK training, skills and people.

      Oh wait, the Olympics is about corporate shcmoozing not people. I forgot.

  5. Cazzo Enorme


    Cheap, plastic crap from Switzerland. Shame Britain hasn't got a decent clock maker anymore - Enfield went out of business years ago, and Smiths dumped their clock making division which then also went out of business.

    1. mhoulden

      British Clockmakers

      If they wanted to go for a genuinely British company rather than a publicity-seeking Swiss one, there's always the Cumbria Clock Company ( They maintain a lot of town hall clocks, not to mention that big one at Westminster. Obviously I'm not a customer, although the idea of installing a clock tower on the roof would be a tempting one if my landlord would let me.

      1. Shane Orahilly
        Thumb Up

        Or even J B Joyce of Whitchurch

        Claimed (although contested by Thwaites & Reed) to be the oldest continuing clock manufacturer in the world, and based in Shropshire, the home of the Modern Olympics (Even if they did decide to commemorate this by creating an animated penis of a mascot) . Far more appropriate than a piece of cheap foreign junk.

  6. Colin Brett


    I had expected a Playmobil reconstruction.

  7. Will's

    Start, Hammer time

    couldn't resist

    1. Elmer Phud

      posts like that

      Can't touch 'em.

      1. Will's

        Bloke with the batteries:

        I've got the power

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    The Three Laws of Mechanics.

    1) Always use the right tool for the job.

    2) A hammer is always the right tool for the job.

    3) Any tool can be used as a hammer.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      RE: The Three Laws of Mechanics

      When in doubt, give it a clout. And if it breaks? Well, it was broken before, wasn't it?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Bloke with 'an 'ammer

        Good old percussive maintenance, works every time.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Thumb Up

          precussive maintenance

          As they say, when the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a thumb

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Otherwise known as a Glasgow Screwdriver

      1. Spot the Cat

        re Hammer

        Birmingham screwdriver, shirley?

    3. Mike48US

      what title

      If it doesn't work, hit it with a hammer...

      If it still doesn't work...get a bigger hammer!

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: An OMEGA?

    Clock is Swatch, we're just in that situation where something is made by one company but has another company's name on it for sponsorship reasons - happens a lot with sports, pro cyclists will ride a bike made by one company as they prefer it, but for sponsorship reasons it'll have their sponsor bike company's name all over it as if it were made by them.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Really? :( Meh and there I was thinking I couldn't get more cynical....

    2. TeeCee Gold badge

      Re: Re: An OMEGA?

      They should sack their marketing dweebs then.

      Right way: Write on it: "Sponsored by OMEGA", so when it goes titsup everyone knows it's not your fault.

      EPIC FAIL way: Badge it as yours, so when it goes titsup everyone thinks your product's shit.

    3. Adrian Challinor
      Paris Hilton

      I bet Omega is really pleased

      Or is this an evil plot by Swatch to muddy Omega's good name?

      I wonder who is doing the timing for the men's 100m? Could we trust we time recorded?

      "And the Swatch time for Usain Bolt is 200 days, 10 hours and 31 sec... sorry thats SQL error 201 - 01. Here's one for question of sport!"

      Paris, because she doesn't need a watch for a good time, but anyone can watch her have a good time.

    4. caffeine addict

      letters and/or digits.

      Omega is owned by Swatch.

  10. Anonymous Coward

    apprenticeships ?

    Is this one of the apprenticeships that the radio adverts keeping banging on about in action?

    Wonder if there’s a lot of demand for massive clock repairs?

    Certainly took their TIME about fixing it!

    I know I know I'll get my coat.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I was just wondering

    if the yellow boards and red/white placcy tape is a permanent part of the installation..?

    Wouldn't be at all surprised.

  12. Big_Boomer Silver badge


    If I was there instead of John Oates I would have been loudly humming the Countdown theme. :-)

  13. Ian Ferguson

    Life imitating art

    The question is, is the clock counting DOWN backwards to the Olmypics, or counting up FORWARDS to the Omlypics?

    (Watch the excellent comedy Twenty Twelve on BBC4 to see what else is likely to happen...)

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As me mom-in-law is fond of saying

    Every problem can be solved with a hammer. The bigger the problem, the bigger the hammer.

  15. Piro Silver badge

    They still need to re-think that logo

    Because all I can see is a certain cartoon character performing a lewd act.

    1. Mr Young

      I agree - that 2012 logo really is something else!

      It seems to be totally beyond my comprehension! It maybe sort of looks like a piece of cat puke or something?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      certain cartoon character performing a lewd act.

      Still haven't found a link to that drawn up properly..just so that people can see what were always on about... mind you it is probably illeagles, under some prohibited use of a pencil law...

      1. Bilgepipe

        Try this

        Try this, dudes...

        Pretty much explains it.

  16. ShaggyDoggy

    5 digits

    Why, in all that's sane, do they have a CUSTOM-MADE clock for a 500 day count, that has 5 DIGITS for the day number.

    WTF ^googol

    1. LaeMing
      Thumb Down


      It is so they can charge us for them.

  17. The Fuzzy Wotnot

    Yeah! Yeah! We're number one!!! UK rules!

    #1 for childhood asthma!

    #1 for childhood obesity!

    #1 for heart-disease!

    #1 for mending complex gadgets with f**k-off big tools!

    #1 for taking a relatively simple thing like running a major sporting event and turning it into a major cock-up of Benny Hill proportions!

    Sod the sports, I can't wait to see what the organisers will get up to next!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I think your on to something

      Benny Hill Olympic events.

      I might even watch them!

  18. I Like Heckling Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    It's true

    I did an engineering apprenticeship when I left school... and one of the priceless bits of information that was offered was.

    'If the spanner doesn't fit... get a bigger hammer'

    It's as true today as it was then.

  19. Ivan Headache


    it's not a British timer so we can't be blamed for this clock-up!

  20. spiny norman

    Big Clock 101

    Don't go to Aldi for the batteries.

  21. stucs201

    Lets hope the actual race timing clocks are more reliable.

    I'm not too sure the marathon runners would be too please if the official at the finish line told them, "Sorry lads, bit of a cock-up with the timing, can you do another lap?".

  22. Graham Bartlett

    AC, Benny Hill Olympics

    I look forward to all male runners being pursued by a dozen topless women to the tune of Yakety Sax. And you might as well run it on fast-forward so that you can see more events in the same time. Winner all round, I reckon.

  23. Mark Fenton
    Paris Hilton

    @Piro re logo...

    ..yup, once you've envisaged young Ms Simpson on her knees, that is all you can see.


  24. Valerion

    Was he pissed?

    Looks like the 2nd picture was taken whilst falling down.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Black Helicopters

      re. Was he pissed?

      Nah; probably got tased by the plod 'coz he was using a camera in London (which, as all pollicemen know, is a potential terrorist target, so it's illegal to photograph it).

    2. LaeMing

      He's a Reg reporter

      That should be enough to answer the question!

  25. A. Lewis
    Black Helicopters

    Hang on a mo...

    Bloke fixing things with hammer, youthful assistant standing by? Surely it's the BOFH! I smell a plot here. Watch out for broken lifts!

  26. Ian Nichol

    too expert for yellow jacketage

    Someone call health and safety, the main clock guru is not wearing regulation dayglo, someone might walk into him!!!

    1. Anonymous Coward

      but but...

      he has the barriers up with the stripy tape!

      I always wonder why such a little thing as a bloke with a hammer would require so much elf n safety.

  27. Matt Hawkins

    Let's Snuff The Olympic Flame

    How is it we can't even get a digital clock to work these days? How much of our money was spent on something that most people could build themselves with bits from Maplin?

    Why are they using Apache/SQL when all they needed was a £1.99 digital watch?

    Just another bit of the rather expensive white elephant that is the Olympic Games. If people want to watch some people running round a track then fine. But please make the ticket price reflect the true cost of organising the whole thing.

    Haven't we got better things to spend our tax money on?

  28. Anonymous Coward

    Only in Britain

    Would we win the bid to host the Olympics, right in the middle of a global financial meltdown, host it in the shit-hole of London where everywhere is still being built and the place is already full and over-priced, and then have a clock to countdown break day 1.

    Welcome to the arsehole of the world.

    1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Only in Britain

      Oh, *do* fuck off.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      "Welcome to the arsehole of the world."

      Were you looking in the mirror when you typed that.

  29. John Goodwin 4

    A frank admission, straight from the horse's mouth

    I admit I was bored yesterday, and wrote to Swatch Group asking why their clock was crap.

    Dear Mr. Goodwin,

    Thank you for your message of yesterday evening.

    Yes, it is embarrassing, especially as we are the timekeeper of almost all the Olympic Games since 1936 and have proven time after time how accurate we are. But mistakes happen.

    The important thing is that we fixed it.

    Best wishes from Switzerland,

    Béatrice Howald

    Head of Media Relations, Spokesperson

    The Swatch Group Ltd.

    Seevorstadt 6

    CH-2501 Biel/Bienne

    1. Anonymous Coward


      You've been "goodwinned".

  30. Andrew Jones 2

    re: overcomplicated?

    I still don't understand this - and I reckon we should demand a detailed technical explanation as to what exactly happened we did after all pay for the bloody thing / will pay for the bloody thing.

    As a programmer I can only see 2 things that could of gone wrong.

    1) it crashed.... Christ knows why it would - but it could of.

    2) the function that stops the clock from counting down when it reaches 0 so we don't see negative numbers has a glitch / misplaced comma / alcohol induced lazy arsed coding error.

    I would however like to know WHY the clock stopped and what they have done to stop it from doing so in future.

    I'd also quite like to know what the point of it is in the first place too - but I guess we won't get a satisfactory answer to that one. They will probably say something like "it is to remind you" yeah - because with the amount of news it will be taking up in the coming months - it will be SO easy to forget.

  31. Christoph

    Did they get the clock from NASA?

    Every so often it stops counting down and goes into a built-in hold.

  32. Equitas
    Thumb Down

    Omega service .................

    must be provided by the manufacturer. Hope they did that one under warranty!

  33. John 62

    countdown to when?

    They couldn't decide if they should have done the countdown to 2012 or 2013

  34. Anonymous Coward


    I thought it said in victory from the jaws of de feet. Although I didn't know de feet had jaws. I'll go have a lie-down now.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    While we're at it

    Can they add a counter for counting up the cock-ups 'til opening day? I think 5 digits should suffice...

  36. Martin Usher

    Shouldn't it be flashing "12:00"?

    It would be so fitting....

  37. Mips
    Jobs Horns

    Press the Reset!

    Plenty of opportunity to comment here:

    "next year's celebration of performance-enhancing drugs sporting excellence." Yeh. That's what the clock needs: enhanced performance. Hur. Hur.

    "developed by our experts and fully tested", as a Swatch spokesman put it. But will you ever get it on your wrist?

  38. Flat Phillip

    2012 logo

    Why does it have a stylised australia in the top right corner? The blob with the rings on it sure looks like to me. Tassie's a bit of a worry though.

  39. Chika

    A man with a hammer and his youthful sidekick?

    BOFH and PFY? Surely not!

  40. ShaggyDoggy

    5 digits !!

    I've figured out (groan) why a 500 day counter has 5 digits.

    It doesn't go to zero, it goes to a display of "TODAY"

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