“Someone once told me, ‘Time is a flat circle. ‘ Everything we’ve ever done or will do, we’re gonna do over and over and over again.” – True Detective, Season 1
What’s the purpose of a watch in the era of social distancing? As we sit home, anxious about the future and with far too little to do in the present, the last thing most of us want to focus on is the slow elapse of hours, minutes and seconds as we drift further into the unknown. Sure, putting on your watch in the morning—along with a button-down shirt and a pair of proper shoes—might serve as a bulwark against the inevitable slide into wearing pyjamas all day, but that’s not all a watch can be good for. While every watch is designed to measure the passage of time, not all of them treat it equally. Some, like the ones below, are designed to change the way we perceive time altogether, and perhaps think about it a little more philosophically. At the very least they might make watching the clock a little more enjoyable.
HYT HO Black Fluid
A liquid-filled glass capillary measures the elapse of hours around the circumference of HYT’s HO, challenging the notion of time as something that can be neatly divided by the ticking of a conventional hand. This model, however, with black fluid set against a matte black monochrome face, turns time into even more of an abstraction, giving you plenty to contemplate while you admire the unusual mechanics of the movement.
Hermès Arceau L’heure de la Lune
Pretty much every high-end watch brand makes a moon phase complication, but leave it to Hermès to turn the idea on its head. Instead of marking the waxing and waning of the moon on a small subdial, this watch dedicates the entirety of its face (available in polished meteorite or aventurine quartz) to the function. Two subdials—one for hours and minutes, the other for the date—act as hands, circling the dial and displaying the phase of the moon in both northern and southern hemispheres. Instead of making a full rotation once every 12 hours, it takes 59 days for the dials to circle the watch’s face. If you’re in need of a reminder to slow down every now and then, it doesn’t get much better than this.
Urwerk UR-100 Spacetime
We define time by the rotation of our planet around the sun, a journey that’s been handily divided into seconds, hours, days and years. This watch, however, offers a more direct way to think about time by measuring the distance our planet travels along its orbit, along with how far the earth has rotated over the equator, in 20-minute intervals. After all, we’re all just hanging on to a rock hurtling through space, right?
H. Moser Swiss Alp Watch
This riff on the world’s most popular smartwatch makes a strong argument in favour of mechanical watchmaking. This watch does in fact tell the time (pressing a button on the side of the case will strike a series of chimes according to the hour and minute) but it answers another, bigger question at the same time: what is the value of a watch beyond a set of ticking hands?
Franck Muller Vanguard Crazy Hours
At a glance you might notice the raised numerals, the fetching blue and black colour scheme or the subtle sunray dial, but look closer and you’ll see how this watch earns its name. While the numbers on the face appear to have been placed in random order, the movement inside knows exactly what time it is, snapping to the correct hour at the right time, regardless of where it appears on the dial. Isn’t that crazy?