Can anybody really know what time it is?

(Disclaimer: This is not an endorsement.  As I said last winter, I wouldn’t buy this stuff with money I found in the street.  Your money may vary.)

After my recent misadventure with the time-space continuum, I started wondering whether there was any sort of device I could use to help me navigate these trying times.  Fortunately, there’s help.  My good friends at Hammacher-Schlemmer have been sending me e-mail offers since 2013, so I know there’s a world of gift ideas for the time-challenged among us.  With that in mind, I offer the following gift ideas from the H-S Temporal Obfuscation catalog, home of the original Faceless Watch (above).



The Classic Calculator Keypad Watch  $59.99

Simply press any key, and white LEDs behind the corresponding numbers will illuminate, in order to show the hour and minute.  0-6-4-5, for example, means 6:45, or 6:54, or 4:56, or maybe 5:46.  Pressing the pound sign reveals the month and day using the same method.  1-2-3, for example, means January 23rd, or possibly December 3rd.  Its chunky plastic keycaps recall the ugly design of the world’s first handheld calculator, while the order of the numbers mirrors the layout of IBM’s seminal Model M keypad, which didn’t have a pound sign, because it wasn’t a telephone.  The links in the silicone strap resemble a chain of space bars (Quark’s, Ten-Forward, the Cantina from Star Wars, etc.), unless you look at them, or are familiar with bars in space.

tick mark watch

The Tick Mark Wristwatch  $99.95

This wristwatch has 28 LEDs that illuminate in sequence to indicate the time, date, and day of the week in some weird form of digital cuneiform that linguists have been unable to translate.  Two vertical rows of blue LEDs match with numbers etched into the watch face, which would make the LEDs superfluous if the etched numbers could be seen without a microscope (not included).  As the time elapses, the corresponding LEDs illuminate to create an ever-changing display of meaningless tick marks.  (10:15 is shown above, according to UFO crackpots who believe ancient aliens built the Pyramids using base-28 math.)


The Now Watch  $129.95

This is the watch ideal for the recipient who has nowhere to be and nothing to do.  The watch’s crystal obscures the entirety of the face, save for a small window that reveals only the current hour and minute.  (The picture above shows that it’s some time between 2:15 and 3:20, if that helps.)   The dappled edges of the window render the hours both prior and pending in a hazy view, reinforcing the hazy fog most people go through life in.  Perfect for time travelers who are confused about what year they have appeared in, and great for their companions who get hung up on their own parochial ideas of “the past” and “the future”.


The Geometrist’s Watch  $149.95

Unlike common digital watches that employ numbers to represent time, this watch’s LCD is a beehive of seven hexagons set in three rows to show the hour, minute, and second to bees and other creatures with compound eyes. Though the stylized hexagonal numerals are easy for insects to recognize, they appear as an unfathomable polygonal nightmare to humans.  The watch’s constantly shifting tessellation mesmerizes both Euclidean and non-Euclidean geometrists, allowing the Cult of Somewhat Euclidean Insect Geometrists to finally seize power and rule Geometrism for all eternity!  (Disclaimer: You only need 6 hexagons to represent hours, minutes and seconds.  The seventh — no one knows for sure which one — is the one used to mesmerize geometrists.) 


The Prismatic Hue Watch  $199.95

This is the watch with a face that replaces conventional notions of time with pretty colors.  Ideal for the busy parent on the go, who has to juggle a dentist’s appointment at quarter to Magenta, soccer practice at Yellow:30, and still make it home for dinner by Teal o’clock sharp!


The Celestial Watch  $219.95

This watch displays a celestial depiction of the Earth, Moon, Sun, and a comet, and lets you figure out what time it is yourself.  Its design is reminiscent of late 17th-century English pocket watches, and how utterly useless they were in telling the time.  This watch replaces the original crescent window with a Sun and Moon that revolve around the entire face whenever they want, casting the Earth and all its inhabitants into daylight or darkness in order to bring about the End of Days.  Accurate Swiss quartz movement provides reliable timekeeping in other watches, but here it just moves a fiery comet around in a circle.

meteorite watch

The Genuine Meteorite Watch  $7000

This watch is constructed with a cross-section from a genuine nickel-iron meteorite that landed in the Gobi Desert when no one was looking.  The watch face’s Widmanstatten pattern (long intersecting bands with cool names like “kamicite” and “taenite”, but are probably just nickel and iron) reveal the most likely source of origin to be an M-type asteroid lying between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.  Made in Germany (an M-type asteroid lying between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter), the watch works as a lunar phase chronometer (or “watch”) for either the northern or southern hemisphere, but not both.  A strontium aluminate coating illuminates the Moon, in case you have trouble seeing the Moon, like when it’s daylight, or during a new moon.  (Warning: Requires only the motion of the hand to keep the watch powered, so don’t buy this if you got one of those $18,000 gyroscopic watch winders last year for Christmas.)



The Gravity Defying Clock  $49.95

Instead of conventional hands that indicate what time it is, the clock has a red magnetic sphere that just goes around in a circle.  The sphere advances in 15 minute increments to provide casual timekeeping that attempts to usurp the tyrannical rule of punctuality and politeness.  The one-handed clock takes a minimalist approach to timekeeping and assumes the hour can be deduced by looking at your watch (assuming your watch is not also from Hammacher-Schlemmer).


24th Century Time Machine – $31,000

This is the machine that coalesces visions of interstellar travel and the universality of time into a $31,000 clock.  It is expertly crafted by L’epee, the last remaining specialized maker of timepieces nobody can afford.  Suggesting a remote station set amid the void of space, but not actually saying it is Deep Space Nine for copyright reasons, this $31,000 clock masterfully depicts the time on a hard-to-see central dome obscured by what would be docking bays if this were Deep Space Nine, which it definitely isn’t.
With a robust history of watchmaking that spans 175 years (2260-2435 A.D.), L’Epee’s renowned clocks will have been given as gifts to elite guests from the Centauri Republic and have kept time for those traveling aboard the Battlestar Galactica.  Twin “laser cannons” deploy technobabble every 20 seconds, serving as a double retrograde seconds complication. Five main-spring barrels and an escapement platform provide up to 5 barrels of escapement, allowing the owner to travel into the future at an amazing 3600 seconds per hour!  Gold-pressed latinum and adamantium-treated corbomite construction.

5 thoughts on “Can anybody really know what time it is?

  1. Oh, my aunt bought me one of those tick mark wristwatches years go, although it was an earlier model that had fewer tick marks and I never figured out how to read them. I don’t know if it was ever set to the right time, or any time. Actually, I can’t swear that it wasn’t counting down until the self-destruct mechanism in the evil lair was supposed to fire.

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