Thread: OT - quartz watches with Chinese displays

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  1. #1
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    Picture OT - quartz watches with Chinese displays

    Hi. My main interest is 24 hour watches, but I have recently becomes intrigued by some of the alternative Chinese displays on clocks and watches. The history of time in China is fascinating, with the day being divided into 12 'hours' at some stages, and also into 100 (and later 108 or other variations) periods.

    I have found the two watches below on eBay. They are quartz watches, so outside the formal scope of this forum, but I'm hoping members might be knowledgable about the dials.

    The Walensa watch looks like a conventional 12 hour watch, and I assume that the inner twelve characters are the numbers 1-12, and the outer twelve the characters corresponding to the twelve two hour periods?

    The Iguzzini is a bit more complicated. It is described as a 'world time' watch, so maybe the 24 hour ring can be rotated in some way, or perhaps it lists time differences relative to China. Are the characters city names?
    And what about the numbers in the middle? I assume again that it is a 12 hour watch, with the numbers 0, 3, 6, and 9 as conventional hours. But what do the lower numbers mean? The sequence seems rather odd. Any ideas?

    Thanks, Phil.
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  2. #2
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    Re: OT - quartz watches with Chinese displays

    Indeed, Chinese timekeeping is very intersting. It is rather about rhythm than linear western time. The Swiss watch firm STADLIN is making watches with this time system and a booklet for download will also be available soon.

    The Chinese time keeping system is based on the I-GING, the book of changes. It indicates the various energetic stages during the 24hour cycle. For simplicity the Chinese used the 12 Zodiac animals, however for the indication of hours they use special ideograms that are different than the one used for years and month. This particular 12 ideograms are also very important for medical use, however without fundamental knowledge not easy to understand.

    You are right, the WALENSA watch indicates in the inner circle the conventional hours in Chinese (1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12) and in the outer circle the 12 ideograms, however the correlation conventional hours and 12 ideograms are not correct. It does not make sense.

    The Iguzzini is a little confusing. Looks more like a Feng Shui watch? There are two classic books that focus on Chinese (Japanese) timekeeping.

    - La Montre Chinoise, A. Chapuis
    - A Collection of Japanese Clocks, N.H.N. Mody

    Both books are in the watch museum library in La Chaux de Fonds (Switzerland) and very interesting to read.

  3. #3
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    Re: OT - quartz watches with Chinese displays

    The first watch, the external characters are 12 Earchly Branches, see this link for more information:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earthly_Branches

    The second one, the names of the major cities around the world. For example, the hour hand is between Kabol and Islamabad, The minute hand is between Cairo and Paris, and the second hand is between Chicago and Salt Lake City.

  4. #4
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    Re: OT - quartz watches with Chinese displays

    Quote Originally Posted by sphinx88 View Post
    The second one, the names of the major cities around the world. For example, the hour hand is between Kabol and Islamabad, The minute hand is between Cairo and Paris, and the second hand is between Chicago and Salt Lake City.
    Yes, it's not so much a world-time watch (i.e. with an active interface for reading the current time in all the major timezones), rather it is a watch bearing a fixed reference chart representing the major timezones, and in particular Beijing's place in the world.

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    Re: OT - quartz watches with Chinese displays

    Quote Originally Posted by Chascomm View Post
    Yes, it's not so much a world-time watch (i.e. with an active interface for reading the current time in all the major timezones), rather it is a watch bearing a fixed reference chart representing the major timezones, and in particular Beijing's place in the world.
    Hmm, but, what if you can turn the dial?

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