Effect of precise timekeeping on the society

In this forum, as most other watch enthusiast and collector’s forums we show and discuss different watches, their, complications, their implantations, materials out of which those devices are made and sometimes their history.  A lot of times we talk about watch manufacturers and their history or lack of it.  Sometimes we talk about individual watchmakers and their contributions to the watch and clock technological advancements. All of these are fascinating topics and we, as enthusiasts, can talk about them for hours. But one thing that I have not seen discussed it the impact of invention of relatively precise time measuring on humanity.

Every significant invention can be used for good as well as bad.  Just like nuclear power can provide us with an uninterrupted source of electrical power, it can kill millions of people very efficiently. Or airplanes can make it easier for people to travel long distances, visiting foreign lands and learning about new cultures. Airplanes also makes easier for people to deliver bombs over long distances.

I recently read a book “Hands of Time” by Rebecca Struthers and in there she mentioned a negative aspect of using clock at the beginning of Industrial Revolution in Great Britain.  There she described how at the end of 18th and beginning 19th centuries in the factories, only managers had control of clocks.  And since watches were very expensive, the workers did not have them.  So, the managers manipulated the clocks to make people work longer and stiff them on wages.

So, I would like to make list of positive effects of invention of watches and negative ones.  I did a little research, thanks to Google and ChatGPT, and came up with the following lists:

Positives:

 · Precise timekeeping allowed people to better coordinate and plan their activities, making them more productive in manufacturing, agriculture, transportation, and commerce.

·  Precise timekeeping allowed us to understand physical laws and make advances in engineering, science.

·  Global time synchronization and coordination allowed us to improve communication and collaboration between individuals in different parts of the world.

·  The concept of time and its measurement has inspired artistic expression and creativity in various forms, like arts, music, literature, and films.

Negatives:

· The clock introduced a sense of urgency, leading to increased stress and anxiety as people feel pressure to adhere to schedules and deadlines.

· The artificial division of time into precise units can lead to disconnection from natural rhythms and cycles, disrupting sleep patterns, mealtimes, and overall wellbeing.

· Clock-driven culture prioritizes productivity and efficiency over creativity and quality of life.

· “Time is Money“ mentality undervalues non-economic aspects of human life.

· The emphasis on punctuality and efficiency can lead to social disconnection and alienation, as people prioritize tasks and schedules over meaningful social interactions and relationships.

· The constant awareness of time can detract from mindfulness and present-moment awareness, as individuals become preoccupied with past and future obligations rather than fully engaging in their current experiences and surroundings.

· The imposition of standardized time systems can undermine cultural diversity and traditional practices rooted in local customs, leading to the loss of unique cultural identities.

These are my lists of pros and cons of precise time keeping. What are your thoughts, as people who are very interested in time keeping and measuring devices, on their impact on our society?

Reply
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Well not need to worry about negative effects most use automatics here

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Enter Mr Jones watches...

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Precise timekeeping hasn't bent our values I think, it's allowed us to bend time to our values more effectively. It's the values I think deserve the scrutiny here. Like you said, clocks are just tools.

In ancient cultures the conception of time was not the sort of Judeo Christian idea of history progressing in linear fashion to a finite end point (which is all but universal now). It was cyclical, based on concepts from nature (seasonal agriculture, astronomical cycles). Made them look at things like death and economy very differently. Mayans (for example) had pretty damn precise timekeeping if you look at it, but their methods were informed by a totally different philosophy than the methods we use today, which meant the outcomes were different too. Not sure that one is better than the other though

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You wrote this essay on a computer/tablet/smartphone. Those things can be produced and are affordable to general public only in societyes that can measure precisely time and a lot of other phisical things.

I can see you have a point, if you write the essay by hand on paper and nailed the papers on the doors of every church in your area...

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florincccc

You wrote this essay on a computer/tablet/smartphone. Those things can be produced and are affordable to general public only in societyes that can measure precisely time and a lot of other phisical things.

I can see you have a point, if you write the essay by hand on paper and nailed the papers on the doors of every church in your area...

I completely agree with you about precise time keeping spurred progress of technology to the level where we can write something like this and get a response from someone thousands mile away in a couple of hours and not a couple of months.

The idea behind this essay was to point out that clock and watch inventions had not only positive, but also negative consequences. Just some food for thought.

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KlausKinskisIllegitimateSon

Precise timekeeping hasn't bent our values I think, it's allowed us to bend time to our values more effectively. It's the values I think deserve the scrutiny here. Like you said, clocks are just tools.

In ancient cultures the conception of time was not the sort of Judeo Christian idea of history progressing in linear fashion to a finite end point (which is all but universal now). It was cyclical, based on concepts from nature (seasonal agriculture, astronomical cycles). Made them look at things like death and economy very differently. Mayans (for example) had pretty damn precise timekeeping if you look at it, but their methods were informed by a totally different philosophy than the methods we use today, which meant the outcomes were different too. Not sure that one is better than the other though

Yes, I agree that precise timekeeping has not changed our values and that those values need to be scrutinized. But did timekeeping made good better and bad worse? Or did it not have any effect on us? That is what I wanted to start discussing.

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Not sure why you've received the pushback on this you have, but if you're looking for additional reading: 'About Time' (authors name forgotten sorry) is a similar book following the impacts of timekeeping throughout human history.

Some of my personal favorite anecdotes were the reasons why the British built churches with clock towers in the various lands/settlements they "visited" and the reasoning behind public places like banks having large clocks.

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Nuclear1711

Not sure why you've received the pushback on this you have, but if you're looking for additional reading: 'About Time' (authors name forgotten sorry) is a similar book following the impacts of timekeeping throughout human history.

Some of my personal favorite anecdotes were the reasons why the British built churches with clock towers in the various lands/settlements they "visited" and the reasoning behind public places like banks having large clocks.

Thank you for the suggestion. You probably mean the book "About Time: A History of Civilization in Twelve Clocks" by David Rooney. It is on my list to read in the near future.