My last entry was in March… and I’m hearing more and more from my enthusiasts (J. Davis, noted), that I need to keep plugging away. So here is a slightly philosophical perspective on time … Analog vs Digital. After a nice fishing trip in eastern Washington with a watchmaker buddy of mine, his son and Oscar (of course), I had some time to think. Driving has a way of offering that time to ponder, especially if the radio is off, which it was for most of the 7 hour return journey to Bozeman.
A number of years ago an elementary teacher came into the shop and saw a particular selection of analog watches, which we’ve sold for a number of years. Slap watches. One of the few pieces that I’ll stock from “over there”. She asked if she could get a discount for a bulk purchase. And after I inquired why, she informed me that she wanted to get one for each of her students to assist them with learning how to read analog time. Hallelujah! YES!
Why am I so stuck on hands and numerals? Some of this may harken back to my college years as a philosophy major. Some of it may simply be the vocation that I’ve chosen. In an effort to blend the two, I’ve been one of those that simply likes to witness the passage of time being a fluid motion…. cyclical, not digital. When the second hand on the watch passes a marker, you can visually see where it’s been and where it's heading. In the digital realm, once it passes, there is no reference to where it’s been. It is simply gone.
When one looks at the pages of a calendar, it is clear that the days, weeks and years have passed. The year 2020 is behind us (thankfully), and 2022 is ahead. But there is something about the circular markings of a watch face that offer a better (optimistically speaking) chance to see the time ahead of us and the time thus past. From a digital perspective, those numbers just appear and then disappear in intervals that don't give us much perspective as to where they came from and where they are going. They are more like the calendar. Once they are there, then they are gone. Flip the yearly calendar over and after 12 months, in the bin it goes. But the face of a watch is different.
A number of years ago, I was asked to be part of a panel with distinguished Montana State University professors. A former employee had arranged this and I was excited and nervous at the same time. It was to be held in an auditorium for the MSU Honors College. . The subject was time. The other speakers were an astrophysicist, the dean of the Honours College, a cultural anthropologist and me…. me, a watchmaker. The concept behind this venue was to offer an opportunity for the students to question the panel as to their perspective on time. Please understand that I felt completely and thoroughly outclassed from a scholastic perspective. But then I did have an employee who was also a philosophy professor to help calm my nerves.
One of the most thought provoking concepts was this…. and I can assure you that it has been something you have experienced as well in one form or another. Why is it that when one is, for example, on a date with an individual and it is going very well, that time seems to FLY by? But when the match is not such a great one, that time seems to drag on and on and on? The same can be said of a day at work (or at least in my case). When things are happening and there are lots of customers, busy work etc., inevitably by mid afternoon, someone says, “is it really 3:00 in the afternoon?”
What exactly creates this juxtaposition in the perception of “keeping time”? A second is a second, a minute and hour are no longer or shorter than they were yesterday. Imagine if one day you thought a length of 12 feet was shorter than the day before? Our perception of that does not necessarily change, unless you caught a large fish and didn’t measure it.
Regardless, there are only so many seconds in a minute, minutes in an hour and hours in a day. Make the best of all of them and hold fast the memories that you created. When we were children, it took SO very long for Christmas or summer break to come and now, as adults, it seems to pass so quickly.
My next entry, and I promise it will not be 4 months, will offer something about the new brand I’ve created. Some of the trials and tribulations that I experienced along the way, Covid included!
Be well, stay healthy and keep ‘em ticking!