When I pushed my face gingerly into the loving embrace of my first pair of Kirk’s, I knew I’d found a new way of looking at the world – and the world was going to find a new way of looking at me. From ocular necessity to style statement. Even without being able to focus on my reflection in the hand mirror, I knew the week it would take to get them glazed to my particularly wonky prescription was going to be agonising. But the wait was worth it: from the day they were delivered and for the next two years, when I arranged meetings with strangers, I would say ‘You’ll recognise me, I’m wearing the best glasses in the room.’ And I was always right.
I got a similar feeling of welcome but unexpected reassurance from the Slow Watches website. Their watches are more about what isn’t there than what is: no date, no second hand, no minute hand… Just the one hand, the hour hand, making one graceful 360° revolution every 24 hours.
The Lilliputians thought that Gulliver worshiped his watch as a god, since he did nothing without consulting it. In Lilliput, the Slow Watch is a timepiece for atheists. I would make a good Gulliver: ‘better an hour early than a second late’ is the mantra that has found me helping to set up many a party or glugging coffee outside a meeting venue.
At around the £200 mark, these watches won’t break the bank, and I can certainly see one of these objects gracing the wrist of a certain type of entrepreneur – not the ball-breaking character-voids from The Apprentice, but one of those real people who creates soft and lovely businesses that customers feel cozy about. There is no automatic version – yet – which raises the question of how long it will take the wearer to realise that their Slow Watch has stopped entirely, but this will surely be the step that makes this a must-have for the sort of people who have people to make sure they are on time for things.
This philosophising is at odds with the highly functional look of the watch itself. Available in black, silver, steel and gold, plus a range of straps, the watch is a square block built around a reliable Swiss made Ronda Caliber 505.24H GMT Quartz movement. Watches are always a meeting of functional crafts and artistic design, but the design in this has been in creating the clean lines rather than fussy detail. Even the logo is absent from the face, which has been built to make the wearer more aware of where they are in their day, rather than where they are in an hour.
This could be the treatment for those of us who have raised punctuality above an art form and into actual pathology. The claim on the website is that the product ‘fundamentally changes the way you look at your watch and it will give you a much better consciousness about the progression of your day.’ Dispensing with the minutes means making the half hours matter, but I can already see a future of stood-up dates stretching ahead of me. I can also imagine biting the inside of my mouth in a panic as I try to work out which side of the quarter hour my watch is now reading. But I can also dream of a brave day dawning when I become relaxed about time: ‘it is what it is,’ I shall say to the departing train, catch myself about to order a flat white, and instead asking for a camomile tea.
Like the Kirk’s, I can see this watch changing my life – for better or ill, I cannot tell. One day, I might even turn up to a party when the crisps are already out.