Braun BNC400 Alarm Clock Review: How To Ruin Good Design

Braun BNC400 Alarm Clock Review: How To Ruin Good Design

I have something of a sleep problem. Or I guess, more accurately, a waking up problem. And my alarm clock died. So I bought this re-issue of Braun’s Dietrich Labs and Dieter Rams-designed BNC004 travel alarm clock. You should not.

What Is It?

A reissue of a classic Braun travel alarm clock, by design demigod Dieter Rams.

Who’s It For?

People who need to wake up to simple, well-designed alarm clocks before they face all the ugly out there in the rest of the world.


Uhhh, that’s why you bought it, right?

Using It

So simple. A dial in the back sets the alarm, in 12-hour intervals. Smashing the top button turns it off. Or you can yell at it, but you need to scream like a banshee or practically swallow the clock for the voice-activated snooze to work. No other features or frills to speak of.

The Best Part

Looking at it. And the steady, subtle ticking, unless that kind of thing drives you insane.

Tragic Flaw

Genius German industrial design ruined by horribly cheap Chinese manufacturing.

This Is Weird…

It’s really tiny! And feels really cheap. Which is weird, because it looks — even as you’re about to pull it out of the box — like it’s constructed as well as it’s designed. And it’s not.

Test Notes

The shrill, piercing alarm successfully roused me from slumber two days in a row. Runs off a single double A battery.

Should You Buy It?

No, unless you like being sad.

Braun BNC004 Price: ~$US40