Keeping up with time when it changes

Noticed our vintage grandfather clock in the entrance foyer clanged too many times this afternoon after returning home from more pressing matters on this Nov. 1.

My watch time read an hour earlier. It had reset automatically at 0200 (2 a.m.) back to 0100 (2 a.m.) to compensate for the end of Daylight Savings Time. I had forgotten about the time change overnight. Too busy on other things. My watch, however, took care of it without any manual involvement.

The clocks on the screens of my Mac were correct when I plopped into the seat to check the day’s emails and news. The Internet clock reset our desktop and laptops overnight.

This Sunday chores during the afternoon included a mix of old and new. Some timepieces needed to be moved back an hour. Others had done so, thanks to electronics.

When it comes to keeping time, times have changed.

An awareness of time was important during my years as a newsman and also during my time working on Capitol Hill in Washington. Some offices in The Pentagon ran on the 24-hour Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), or UTC (Universal Time Code). If someone said i should meet them at 1200 hours, it meant 8 a.m. if we were on Eastern Standard Time (EST) or 7 a.m. EST.

I wore a GMT/UTC watch that had a fourth hand that showed GMT (also referred as Zulu Time) on a 24-hour dial.

I also used that watch when traveling the world on assignments. The normal minute hand was set for the time zone of wherever I was and the GMT/UTC hand was set either for the “home” time in Washington, DC, or the “Zulu” time of the world’s central clock in Greenwich, England.

An Air Force friend recommended the then-new “Atomic Time” radio-controlled watch by Citizens, which could reset the watch to whatever time zone I was in by a radio signal sent out around 2 a.m. each morning.

It was a quartz watch that still needed to replace the battery every couple of years until Citizens introduced its “solar” light source technology in 1998 and the battery was deemed usable for at least 40 years.

I wore a Citizen Skyhawk multi-timezone, Eco-drive, A-T chronograph from that I bought in 1998 in Hong Kong for a price that was less than one-tenth of what one pays for a Rolex GMT-Master II automatic.

I still have that Skyhawk. It still has the original solar battery and was on time when I checked it this morning. It is fully-charged by the sunlight that comes into second-story bedroom window and keeps exact time to the second, thanks to the 2 a.m. connection it makes automatically to the U.S. National Atomic Time Clock in Fort Collins, CO, each day.

A newer Citizen “Blue Angels” Eco-Drive, A-T “world chronograph,” a gift, also provides current, exact time on both 12-hour and 24-hour dials. It sits in the watch box, fully charged by light. It was a gift from a couple of years ago. I general wear it once or twice a week.

Oh, I still have a few vintage “automatic” or “hand wound” mechanical timepieces as collector items but my wristwatches of choice now are relatively-inexpensive ones made by Citizens, Bulova (now owned by Citizens) or Luminox, lightweight carbon-fiber models that are easily readable in the dark.

The two Bulovas are “precisionist” models that use a new, higher-frequency crystal that is supposed to be accurate up to 10 seconds a year. When I reset them to the current local time today, I will see if they are still accurate to the second. The last time I checked was when DST kicked in earlier this year, and they were still exactly on time. They were gifts.

The Luminox models have Swiss quarts movements that provide GMT readouts. Both were on sale on Amazon when purchased a couple of years ago. The visible hands and numbers are tiny lights powered by the watch’s battery, which lasts 2-3 years. I wonder when parent Bulova company Citizens will apply the solar technology with the precisionist movement.

A number of friends no longer wear wristwatches. They depend on the time readouts on their smartphones. The clock in the radio in our 18-year-old Jeep Liberty is connected to the WWV Time Clock, so it is always accurate.

Times change. So do the way we keep track of it.

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