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花花花 SuperLaserNino 花花花

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How not to design a watch

17 May 2015

376 words

[This gets kinda rant-y. Don’t worry though, it’s not about the Watch.]

I found it irritating that I had to adjust the time on my wristwatch twice every year because of DST, so I bought a radio controlled watch that would do this automatically, and it’s working fantastically: Now I don’t even notice when DST starts or ends. Except when I stop and ask myself why I’m feeling so tired all of a sudden – but that’s beside the point. Here’s the thing:

Every 24 hours, the watch stops for around 20 seconds to look for a signal and reset itself to the correct time. This is good, of course. Otherwise the watch wouldn’t know when DST starts or ends, and it would all be for naught. And besides, you don’t need the second-hand most of the time anyway.

The watch.
The watch.

Still, it would be good to put the reset time at some point when most people don’t look at their watches. “How about at night?” one engineer probably said. “What a fantastic idea!” another exclaimed, “People sleep at night!” And they went forth and set the reset time to midnight. Of course things aren’t always accurate, so my watch stops every night at around 2–3 seconds before midnight.

There are not many times at which I need a sort of accurate second-hand, but the last few seconds before midnight are practically the worst time I can imagine for an interruption to happen. First of all, I would assume that a lot more people are asleep at, like, 3 AM than at midnight, and second of all, midnight is like the number one Schelling Point for things to count down to. Think birthdays or New Year’s. Nino is like, “You guys, I got this. I have an accurate watch.” And then everyone is like, “yeah, ok,” and then they say “10 … 9 … 8 …” and when they’re at “3” the watch stops and Nino is confused and the others keep counting, and this is not okay.

Why couldn’t they make the watch reset at 10 seconds after midnight? Or at 2 or 3 AM?

I have a feeling that this wasn’t super well thought through.