“Our life is very detailed. An honest man need not count more than his ten fingers, or in extreme cases he may add his ten fingers and freeze the rest. Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say, your affairs are not two or three, a hundred or a thousand. .” -Henry David Thoreau, Walden
But how You can start with your watch and get rid of the second hand – no one plans a second one anyway. But, what about the minute hand? Can you live without it? This is exactly what some watchmakers have done, echoing Thoreau’s sentiment and telling you, Just relaaax.
Single-hand watches are relatively rare, but they are a clever and recognizable curiosity in the scientific world. They work perfectly for telling time, if less accurate than traditional clocks, but their concept is driven by the lofty idea of changing what you think about time and its importance. Once you start reading them, the theory goes, you’ll see the futility of counting all those little things between minutes. Here’s how it works:
For one-handed watches, all the work is done by the hash marks around the dial. If you think about it, it’s easy to spot the half-hour marker between the two hour markers and the 15-minute mark halfway between them. Depending on the watch, you will have two markers indicating 5 minute increments between them. As long as the hour hand is long and straight enough to indicate them accurately, you can read the time to the nearest five minutes – or know that it’s currently between 5:20 and 5:25.
The existence of such watches begs the question: do you really? required More accurate or timely than that? Sure, you probably do at times, but you’re probably keeping track of time on your phone during those times.
The other part of the concept is that this approach provides a big-picture view of time: they give you a sense of where you are in the day or the hour. You can look more closely if you want a more accurate reading, but these watchmakers are betting you won’t have to or want to often.
Against popular cultural stereotypes of solidity and punctuality, there are watch brands in Germany that are famous for telling you “don’t sweat the small stuff” this way. While the one-hand watch concept is best known to enthusiasts by the company Meistersinger (founded in 2001), another German brand is Botta, which has been making one-hand wristwatches since the 1980s.
Although the transcendental concept these brands propose is relatively new, there is plenty of historical precedent for this type of time dating back centuries. Many early clocks were not accurate enough to measure minutes until the late 16th century, and an hour hand on clock towers was easy to read from a distance. Even later watches and pocket watches were sometimes produced in this way.
Do people love watches because they keep you on time to the second? No: People are fascinated and mesmerized by the immaculate second hand, analog dials, refined details and the idea of old-world craftsmanship. In a world of dinging notifications and regimented workdays, most clocks serve a calming purpose anyway – something Thoreau might well approve of.
Here are some examples from leading brands that specialize in single-handed watches.
Meistersinger is a brand built around the single-hand watch concept. It took many forms and designs with the moonface and other issues or features, but its earliest production. The N°01 watch, still represents the essence of the brand. It’s often larger at 43mm wide, perhaps giving more space for indicators and easier reading, but we prefer a 40mm watch and think it’s more than adequate for a relaxed wrist presence. Gen-like experience Meistersinger touts.
Movement: Cellita SW 210 Automatic
Botta has a typically Bauhaus approach to design and offers classical and more modern-concept interpretations of the one-hand watch (as well as some other traditional collections). This variation puts the hour in a 24-hour format for a clearer reading – as you follow the sun’s path during the day. The dial is lighter at the top, indicating the hours of the day with noon at the 12 o’clock position, and darker at night with midnight at the bottom. Its 45mm titanium case should be reasonably wearable thanks to its very small lugs.
Movement: ETA 2893-2 automatic
Appropriately minimalist in design And Functionality, this model represents the one-hand watch concept to its extreme: you can only really read up to the nearest 15-minute increment. (The German brand also offers other models with 5-minute accuracy as well as traditional two- and three-hand watches.) It’s a great look for the design-conscious and for those with (or desired) lifestyles. loosely time management
Movement: ETA 2824-2 automatic
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