WOLF retro DESIGN REVIEW. 23rd August 2022
How’s this for a bedside clock radio that is over half a century old?
A retro review looks at products that are at least over ten years old from a present-day WOLF design perspective. While the technology and fashion of the period influence design, and are taken into consideration, great design ideas will transcend their eras to be timeless.
Interesting and factual information may be provided, but our review aims to deliver insight from the perspective of a designer’s mind and eyes.
As with most reviews the focus is on the design and its evolution within the industry. The functioning systems and sound quality are not necessarily considered.
The 7FC-89W was available from 1971 as a compact bedside radio clock alarm.
Price and Availability.
The 7FC-89W was a popular bedside item in the early 70s, and there used to always be one or two for sale on eBay. They have since become highly sought after by collectors and good working ones are now very rare. You can pick up a broken one for under $50, but expect to pay well over $100 for a clean working example.
The 7FC marked a new direction for SONY with compact clock radios. It was also more cube like in form which was a departure from the older 8FC models that were more rectangular and lower to the surface.
First impression/ Delight
This clock radio is very retro and cool. We would describe it as perky, positive, and a great way to start the day!
Exterior Design Review
This upright clock radio is 136mm x 195mm x 155mm and considered rather compact in 1971. The main body is like a box and made from a wood-grain look plastic. The left side of the box has a series of slots for the speaker sound and on the opposite side is a relatively large single dial. Centred on the top towards the front edge is a single large chromed push button.
The front face is in brushed aluminium and wraps around the left and right sides by approx. 10mm. This creates the illusion that the front face is thick and substantial. Focal in the centre is the analogue clock. Framing this is a thick black band on the aluminium face with clock numbers cut out. It’s a striking look that gives this clock a lot of its character. Curiously there are round knobs protruding directly out of where 3 and 9 are supposed to be.
The wood look plastic is smooth without texture and doesn’t trick you into believing it to be real wood. However, it is relatively durable so many have survived better than other models made from real wood veneers.
The aluminium face panel has a nice brushed finish which was very futuristic in 1971, but the surface is soft. It’s hard to find these clocks without a lot of dints and scratches on the aluminium face plate. All the dials are made from real metal and feel nice to touch and turn.
The buttons all protrude from the surfaces proudly so are easy to access. Everything turns and moves with a slight weightiness that that represents quality. The big button on top is particularly nice in our opinion.
While designed to be compact it’s probably still a little large for a bedside table and being upright it’s vulnerable to being knocked onto the floor.
The Telechron clock with its red, black and silver needles is striking. It has a light so in the dark it looks rather sexy when illuminated.
Desirability / Collectability and what to look for.
The 7FC-89W was a creative and playful new concept for SONY who were rather conservative at the time with regards to product design. This design feels like a celebration for the beginning of a new decade and still feels rather fresh, even after 50 years. In recent times many of the good ones have been snapped up by collectors. A clean working clock with dint and scratch free aluminium is hard to find but do come up from time to time. You may need to pay more than you would like but they are sure to continue appreciating.
WORD OF THE WOLF
This clock radio is a great display and talking piece. As such we don’t think it’s essential to have fully functioning one, but it should look as close to mint as possible. The light inside the clock creates great mood, so it’s important for that it can still illuminate at the very least.
WOLF DESIGN EXCELLENCE SCORE = 6.7
The information in this review is intended for informational or educational purposes to provide readers an understanding of how something may be seen from a certain design perspective. In this case it is from the view point of WOLF DESIGNS. As design is subjective this review should only be considered as an independent opinion. Information further to being of an opinion is provided to the best of our knowledge based on our own research at the time of doing the review. We cannot be held responsible for any inaccuracies or inconsistencies and reserve the right to change or update any content as appropriate.
The final responsibility of the design resides with the original manufacturer.