Timekeepers by Simon Garfield (Part 2)

Roger Bannister Goes Round and Round. He was the first man who ran a sub-four-minute mile. His was an outstanding and timeless run. I had the honour to meet him. He trained 2 years for that moment. Everyone was inspired by his story. Beating the 4 min mark was psychological too. Later, many other people could beat the mark. In 1999, Moroccan Hicham El Guerrouj ran 3:43. Better nutrition and training has improved the timing. Limits are surpassed year after year and it is outstanding prove of the human condition. Later, his running shoes were auctioned off for sale. It fetched over 266 thousand pounds. After track, he devoted himself to medicine. He worked on nerves and brain disorders. He also studied Parkinson’s disease. Roger was proud of his record as it inspired younger people to think that nothing was impossible. Running and timing had the ability to inspire others.

Vietnam. Napalm. Girl. The photo of the Vietnam Napalm Girl is famous. It happened on 8 June 1972. The photographer captured the napalm from the plane. The photographer accomplished an injured girl to the hospital. Later, she died. Some of the photos captured were iconic as it captured the pain of those who were suffering. However, as she was naked, some people found it offensive. The image reminded people of the horrors of war and that the Vietnam War needed to end soon. Nick Ut was the photographer. Everyone gathered to celebrate the technological advance for the machinery and the development of the camera. Leica was the brand of his camera. The Leica story shows that it is important for a photographer to be at the right place at the right time in the first place. Henri Cartier-Bresson used his Leica and treated like his weapon, the reflex of the shutter like the reflex of a gun.

Horology Part 2: How to Sell the Time. I bought a Timex for 60 bucks. It was a quartz and had no other functions. I did not need other features like illuminated features etc. Blame it on the watches’ marketing departments. Advertisements are very attractive and catch readers’ attention. These advertisements overreach to try to appeal to us. Harry Winston Opus 3 took 2 years just to form a prototype. It was a masterpiece that costs $1 million pounds. People buy watches because you have the chance to wear something historic. For instance, your watch is made from a dinosaur bone. Bremont is a British company. Advertisements often like to play on heritage. Product placement is really important nowadays. Baselworld is the biggest watch fair in town. Accuracy on your wrist is not so important as you have your cell phone with you. Baselworld is filled with jubilation and wealth. You can express your personality from the watch you wear. The wristwatch is a sign that humans have mastered the time. It was a magnificent feat of engineering. Watches have ambassadors, like Jose Mourinho. I went to the Baselworld just to look at the marketing, and not buy anything as I couldn’t afford them. Most of the watches are set to 10:10 as it makes the watch appear to be smiling. The key setting is 10.09:36. Alternatively, one could set the time at 8:19. Watch demand came down in 2014 and it hurt the Swiss watch industry. Quartz watches have been present since the 1920s. The Swiss managed to fight the quartz crisis in the 1970s and 1980s by producing the Swatch, which was colourful etc. Patek Philippe has great workmanship and tradition. You never actually own one, you merely look after it for the next generation. It was a very famous line of marketing. It was a perfect line of marketing. The man who created it was Tim Delaney. The author spoke to Delaney. Patek wasn’t owned by the conglomerates, but was still family-owned. Delaney also analysed why certain previous campaigns worked and why some didn’t. Delaney wears an Aquanaut. To him, only the Patek campaigns have been outstanding. Omega’s Speedmaster went to the Moon and was NASA’s timekeeper of choice. It was the Moonwatch and that was a hugely attractive USP. There are many variants of the Speedmaster. Omega is under the Swatch Group.

What began as a pendulum and evolved into an escapement has now become a tiny, light and elegant contraption to regulate a frantic world. – Simon Garfield

More significantly, why does anyone living in the 21st century ever need to buy another watch of any sort ever again? – Simon Garfield

I bought a watch, and so will millions of others, purely because of marketing: we are sold the need to keep and display time at every turn, and the more we don’t need to buy a watch, the more pervasive the sell. – Simon Garfield

Advertisements tell principally of wonder and adventure, often in the form of humankind against the elements or humankind achieving ultimate goals – a watch to wear when competing in the America’s Cup, a timepiece to wear when you’ve won 7 Grand Slams. – Simon Garfield

Because some men want jangly stuff to define their status, and have done since the time of Henry VIII. Suited and moneyed men don’t get away with wearing much jewellery these days, not least when they are posing up mountain and beneath lake, so a watch solves all desires and expectations. – Simon Garfield

Tradition and craftsmanship still counted for a lot in the pixelated world; wearing a mechanical watch simply makes us more human, and that is something we may always like to feel. – Simon Garfield

Time Tactics that Work. The Berry Season. I do not have time to read all the self-improvement books. There are many books to help with time management. Most books suggest the same thing, which is to save mornings for real work, stop multi-tasking, do one thing well etc. Some argue against making to-do lists. One should keep a well maintained and rigorous calendar. Being busy makes us feel important. Delegation is important and it helps you save time. Delegation means less stress and negative emotions on yourself. Some tactics are to turn off social media and don’t go out in the evenings. Schedule ‘me time’. You can also learn on developing a holistic work-life balance in your life. Remember that the berry season is short. Divide your time into weekly time grids. Strike off a grid when you do something. Most people exercise flexibility in their daily life. Working hours might not an indication of productivity. White collar workers tend to inflate their hours in order to compete with the guy next door. Learn to adapt the lean email simple system. Stephen Covey emphasizes on time management. Divide your tasks into the following: 1) urgent and important; 2) not urgent but important; 3) urgent and not important; 4) not urgent and not important. Urgent doesn’t mean important. Learn to focus on Quadrant II. The key is to do important things first. Arnold Bennett’s guidance was original and insightful. Sleep is for slackers and for those who are bored. He suggested poetry was a good way to fill time. Respect your daily schedule. Do not be enslaved by your schedule though. Do not be a prig. Thoreau wrote Walden, a book about living simply. It was a re-think of the soul. Can things be rushed? Is there such a thing as a quick fix to time management problems? You must have time for the long haul. Split things into smaller parts.

The supply of time is truly a daily miracle. An affair genuinely astonish when one examines it. You wake up in the morning and lo! Your purse is magically filled with 24 hours of the unmanufactured tissue of the Universe of your life. – Arnold Bennett

Slowing Down the World. A Place where Time Stands Still. Prince Charles had a plan for the community. The place was big. It was called Poundbury. It combined an English lifestyle with the Internet age. It was a novel place and looked like a dream. It was a new urban movement. There were many facilities and amenities around. Poundbury was self-contained and because could take life at a slower pace. To me, it is still an admirable place. However, the purists still criticize the place. Living them forces you to re-think about life and practise mindfulness. It is way of living which is potentially more meaningful. The goal is care and patience. Slow living could also be more environmentally friendly and help to save the planet. Chez Panisse is a restaurant which is respectful to the French. Slow food was about eating with integrity. It is traditional food. He encouraged people to savour their food. The world has been infested by the virus of fast life. People had lost pleasure from dining at the table. Rushed and bland food could have the effects of insulting a culture. Along with fast food comes a lot of environmental concerns. One important factor of food is good communication. The issue with modern people is that they are in a hurry. Fast food contains a lot of sugar and salt. Tech is now playing a bigger part in food. Rhinehart invented Soylent, which is a food replacement drink. It took just 10 seconds to drink. It didn’t taste too bad as well. The problem was that there was no variety in taste. The new food was utility over pleasure. Soylent is full of different vitamins and minerals. It can free up time because it can be consumed really quickly. The popularity for Soylent appears to be increasing.

Slow living is less of a style and more of a deeply personal mentality… Slow living isn’t about determining how little we can live with – it’s about working out what we can’t live without. – Nathan Williams

Using Soylent as a resource means that you can take the time you would normally spend preparing, eating and cleaning up after meals, and put that time into other areas of your life. Soylent gives you the freedom to live life the way you want to live. – Soylent advertisement

Epilogue. Humility Watch. I am going to buy a watch made in 1957 which has a rich history. The watch loses 72 seconds a day. You can measure the accuracy using the multifunction timegrapher. I bought a vintage watch. There is such a thing as ‘the humility watch’ and the ‘stress watch’. There is also the discretion watch and other type of interesting watches available. It would be cool to have a watch without a minute hand but only an hour hand.

Most technologies that are 10 years old look incredibly outdated, so that if I use a phone from 10 years ago it’s almost a provocation, and it makes me look massively eccentric. But you’re wearing your wristwatch from the 1950s and it doesn’t seem extraordinary. – Simon Garfield

With watches, you can weave in a lot of interesting stories and remap the concepts of how we think about time. – Simon Garfield




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