Time Out: Watch This!

“And what is the use of a book without pictures or conversations?” asked Alice.

She may well have asked “And what is the use of a watch that does not tell the time?”

There is a riddle, the punch-line of which involves selecting a watch that has stropped, rather than one that is accurate unto a second a year – because the former tells the correct time twice daily, and the other, only once in a very, very long time.

Someone has just gone one better; by inventing a watch that does not tell the time at all… and we are not talking about cardboard watches made by kindergarteners who decide the hour-and minute-hands were extraneous and gave them to the dog to eat. Calling this watch “second hand” – simply because parts of it are made from recycled steel, will simply not do, either.

The timepiece in question costs a cool £150,000 – and the said steel is a part of what has been salvaged from the Titanic.

Now do you have a sinking feeling?

Would it help to know that these limited edition status symbols (cymbals?) were sold out within 48 hours of being launched?

Brazilian footballer Ronaldo was given the first one, presumably before intending to take ‘time out’ out with the three transvestites whom he met at a nightclub in the posh Barra da Tijuca district. The other clients, however, remain nameless. A spokesperson for the Geneva -based firm Romain Jerome reassures us, however, that they are all “very rich clients, who have taste for the luxurious.”

And probably more money than sense, too. This is more of a sapphire-encrusted chronometer than a watch; because all it does (apart from show its innards) is divide 24 hours into two sections – a light-coloured half for day, and a darker night, according to its mechanism, rather than according to whether the moon or the sun reign supreme in the sky.

Going by the oh-so-original name of “Day and Night”, this chunky thing attaches to the wrist with a crocodile skin strap. No wonder they were snapped up, then.

The advertising spiel includes “Day & Night offers a new way of measuring time, splitting the universe of time into two fundamentally opposing sections: day versus night…. An avant-garde approach, that is different and even disturbing…”

Yes, quite. The watch goes by “interpreting time” as ordained by two tourbillions (French for “whirlwind”) that operate alternately and sequentially.

This type of mechanism was invented by Abraham-Louis Breguetin 1795 that is designed to counter the effects of forces, including gravity, on the accuracy of a watch. This ruse was very useful, considering that fob watches, unlike today’s wrist watches, remained in much the same position for most of the day… and night. This was both an engineering and design coup for the time. Although strictly speaking, therefore, a tourbillion is not required to produce highly watches, those containing it ironically sell for tens of thousands of Euro.

It is typical of these watches to be crafted such that the actual tourbillion may be seen moving through a window in the watch face; the mechanism, rotating once each minute, will serve act as a second hand. Is this watch is special, then, because it has two tourbillions?

Yvan Arpa, CEO at Romain Jerome, insists that what makes it special is that “When you ask people what is the ultimate luxury, 80 per cent answer ‘time’.” How’s that for conspicuous consumption?

Asked the time, most of us would look at the sun and hazard a guess. Others would glance at their cellular phones; and others, of course, at their wristwatches. However, there exist those people for whom time is a malleable hypothesis that allows them to eat when they are hungry, sleep when they are tired – and work if and when they feel like it.

These people would not know what to do with a Day and Night watch. Indeed its raison d’etre, that of differentiating between set blocks of rest and work, would be useless. These people do not need advertising jargon to learn that the “ultimate luxury is to take one’s time…”


A lightening bolt flash
A glimpse of the horizon
A moment in time.

Begin at the end
dusk is but a dawn rewound
live your life anew.

Time, in outer space,
Does not follow any rules;
It’s not bound by clocks.

Live your life now
Yesterday will not re-wind;
Tomorrow’s distant!

Days fade into nights
And these wait for mornings new
Over and over.

When the ocean moves
At the turn of each neap tide
Life’s cycles renew.

Rainbows straddling skies
Emerging after tempests
Colouring my life

The longest journey
Starts with the first tiny step;
So does the shortest!


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