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Editor's Note

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Prior to the electronic age of tracking time, absolute accuracy was the unachievable goal that so many watchmakers had strived for with spring and lever. When you think about it, it really wasn't all that long ago that annual chronometric and observatory competitions would laud the winners of mechanical accuracy for timekeepers that strived for an unachievable perfection based solely on the power stored in a metal spring.

These winning watches would deviate only a few seconds (or less) per day and were the very best examples of the time. As recently as the 1960's and 70's, fine-tuned machines were designed with new escapements to mitigate the effect of gravity, new materials to overcome magnetic and temperature effects, and new devices to supply a steady and even amount of force to the mechanical heart of the watch - the escapement. Over the course of more than six hundred years mechanical clocks and later watches graduated in accuracy from hours, to minutes, and then to seconds per day.

Late in the 1960's, the miniaturization of the quartz-controlled timekeeper allowed for the creation of a wristwatch that shattered any previous expectations of accuracy and made moot the challenges that had for the previous six centuries driven the watch and clockmakers of their day. Only fifty years later our world now marches to the cadence of cesium atomic regulated time accurate to the millisecond and displayed on almost all of our electronic devices.

As humans do we really need that type of accuracy on a day to day basis? If you're running behind schedule does it matter if you are exactly 4 minutes and 33.321 seconds late to a meeting? I guess knowing the exact time is nice, but a certain amount of give is only human. That's why I love my mechanical watches. Yes they are still 99.9% accurate, but as a human and not a super computer I'm more than happy to allow my watch to run a bit less than perfectly, because no one is perfect in any case.

Many native Americans had no need for watches. Time was a looser concept for them, with roots in the grander cycles of nature and not the frenetic needs of the moment. Jamaicans might reply soon-come if asked when they would arrive somewhere, leaving a wide and very natural window that meant they would be there - when they got there. As for me, the ticking heart of a mechanical watch represents a wonderful balance between cesium and seasons.

It's AboutTime - keeping.

Gary

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