Time Pieces

This is an entry from our Saturday “Off the Clock” edition — a little something that lands somewhere between Timeless & Timely.

Have you heard of the 10,000 Year Clock? It’s also called the Clock of the Long Now.

Its purpose is to help us think not in terms of today but longer term. The Long Now Foundation wants people to look at everything through the eyes of someone who may live 1,000 years.

If you’d like to get a look at the 10,000 Year Clock, you can check out prototypes at the Science Museum in London or at the Long Now Museum and Store at Fort Mason Center in San Francisco.

Or you could make your way to a remote mountain on Jeff Bezos’ property in Texas.


Clocks Through Time

Earlier iterations of clocks included a mechanical clock powered by water given to Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne by Abbasid caliph Harun al-Rashid in 807. At noon a weight dropped, bells sounded, and twelve brass horsemen emerged from twelve windows.

And then there was a clock commissioned by the duke of Milan, Azzo Visconti, in 1336. This one had bells that struck “twenty-four times according to the number of the twenty-four hours of the day and night.” It is the first documented hour-striking clock in a public setting. A Milanese chronicle later reported Visconti’s time of death as August 14, 1339, in the twentieth hour—the first modern reference to an hour indicator in such a context.


The Clock That Had No Hands

Writer and newspaper columnist Herbert Kaufman wrote a short book in 1912 called The Clock That Had No Hands and Nineteen Other Essays.

In the first chapter, titled “The Clock That Had No Hands,” he made a case for advertising, noting it was neither a luxury nor a debatable policy. To him, it was as plain as the nose on his face.

“Newspaper advertising is to business, what hands are to a clock. It is a direct and certain means of letting the public know what you are doing. In these days of intense and vigilant commercial contest, a dealer who does not advertise is like a clock that has no hands. He has no way of recording his movements. He can no more expect a twentieth century success with nineteenth century methods, than he can wear the same sized shoes as a man, which fitted him in his boyhood.”

One wonders what Mr. Kaufman would make of digital newspapers and Apple Watches today.

From this week’s essays:

It's About Time

On the Shortness of Life

Thanks, and I’ll see you on the internet.