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Monday, August 17, 2009

Where Does the Time Go?

Jaeger-LeCoultre: Hybris Mechanica à Grande Sonnerie

2009 ProfessionalWatches™ (

The quick, uncomplicated answer is seldom useful. The questions we ask may seem simple, but the answers we seek often require reading and understanding volumes of information. Everyone would like to take a shortcut to enlightenment. In an age when speed is equivalent to power and often a faulty substitute for quality, substantial investigation is lacking. Wise people must exhibit patience with thoughtful acquisition.

Pressures from society and self-imposed tension serve as blocks to thorough thinking, which requires the commodities of time and reflection for a degree of perfection. The more complicated the mechanisms, the more considerations are required in the production. For example, complications appear endless in even the simpler inventions such as the watch. In horology, the science of measuring time, the term complication refers to "any feature beyond the simple display of hours, minutes, and seconds in a timepiece." A watch can be a relatively simple device to keep track of hours and minutes; however,the more complications in a watch, the more difficult it is to design, create, assemble, and repair. Depending upon the owner, simplicity or grandiose design is the answer to measuring time. According to Wikipedia, watches with several complications are referred to as grandes complications. The initial ultra-complicated watches appeared due to watchmakers' ambitious attempts to unite a great number of functions in a case of a single timepiece. The mechanical clocks with a wide range of functions, including astronomical indications, suggested ideas to the developers of the first pocket watches. Examples of ultra-complicated watch-making companies are Breguet, Patek Philippe, and Vacheron Constantin. Complications include (but are not limited to) self-winding, chonograph, double chonograph, date display, second time zone, solar time, alarm, signs of the zodiac, moon phases, star chart, week of year, five-minute repeater, and passing strike. The Hybris Mechanica Grande Sonnerie is the world's most complicated wristwatch. It is powered by the Jaeger LeCoultre Calibre 182 movement, with 26 complications and over 1300 parts. Here is a partial list: Westminster Chimes, Grande Sonnerie, Petit Sonnerie, silent mode, minute repeater, flying tourbillon, perpetual calendar, instantaneous jumping digital hours, minutes, days retrograde, months retrograde, date retrograde, display of the leap year, inertia blocking; tone power reserve, mainspring power reserve, time setting in steps of one hour and minute by one minute jumps, clockwise and counterclockwise.( hybris mechan.html#more) The invention of the watch and its many complications show man's reliance on knowing what he considers to be time as a constant presence in his life. The watch does not mean, however, that he understands the concept of time as an exacting measurement. The watch merely lends credibility that thinking people possess an understanding of a deep concept (time) at varying degrees on a very shallow, mechanical level. At least that's better than no understanding of time at all. But what about a philosophical level of understanding, or even a scientific level of understanding? Most have heard that one of Einstein's consequences of general relativity is "time goes more slowly in higher gravitational fields." But, few understand the consequences as it relates to the universe of which they are a part. And, to be quite honest, few harbor much care to learn about such theories of relativity. So, where are the shortcuts to understanding? The Dummy's Guide to the Big Questions or "Operating Guidelines in Ten Easy Steps"? The unique composition of every individual dispels the worth of such publications. Within each of us lies answers and limitations, simplicities and complications, knowledge and ignorance that will reveal not only our personal solutions but our own shortcomings. A human being who stops seeking answers essentially stops living. When no limits are placed on knowledge, we live in a constantly changing environment of adaptation to change. To be open to new complications is often painful but essential in the struggle toward understanding. A proper sail must be capable of capturing energy for movement from all directions. "Clocks slay time... time is dead as long as it is being clicked off by little wheels; only when the clock stops does time come to life." -- William Faulkner
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