Nov 9, 2017

Schrödinger's movement: The watch with the opaque crystal

Actually, that's not quite true. The crystal is domed saphire. But a plate of opaque metal covers the Swiss automatic movement. The movement works, as long as you move, and you can "set" the time with the crown, but you have no idea what time you're setting it to.
The company calls it a "superposition" watch (a term from quantum physics). "The time cannot be read. We do not follow the time. We take the time with us."
Do you want to be part of this piece of performance art? It's guaranteed to be a great way to start conversations with people ... who will then slowly back away from you and run. Only 2,000 euros, limited to 36 pieces.
Wikipedia entry on Schrödinger's cat:ödinger%27s_cat


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By the way, when they're not pranking us with Schrödinger watches the Krypton guys do sell a normal dive watch, nice and chunky at 47 mm x 19.5 mm, 4,000 meters, 7-mm sapphire crystal, ETA 2824-2, about $1,650.


I really like the watch, but I have no money to buy it now, and it triggers my pet peeve of being a diver without a metal bracelet with proper end links. The mesh is O.K., but there are no end links.
A very expensive Pet Rock.
Step 1: Buy watch, walk around, tell people you're richer than them, get some laughs.
Step 2: Buy pliers.
Step 3: Upgrade watch with pliers. Walk around, tell people you're smarter than them, get some laughs.
Another one: This watch doesn't tell the time, but it indicates whether it is day or night, and it needs two tourbillons to do that. Additionally, it is manufactured out of rusty steel from the wreak of the Titanic. The $300,000 price does not include tetanus shots. The watch was produced in a limited edition of 9. Since initial media reports date from 2008 and the watch is still listed on the company's website, it appears that sales have been slow.

Sort of like a too-enthusiastic forced patina on a bronze watch.
Correction: According to the Wall Street Journal, the watch sold out instantly.


April 25, 2008, 11:54 am The $300,000 Watch That Doesn’t Tell Time
A $300,000 watch? Luxury. A $300,000 watch that doesn’t tell time — and that sells out? Pure genius.
According to several news reports flagged by my friends at Luxist, Swiss watchmaker Romain Jerome just launched the “Day&Night” watch. The watch won’t tell you what time it is. That’s so yesterday. But it does tell you whether it’s day or night — helpful, I guess, for billionaire types who can’t afford windows.
As the company’s Web site boasts: “With no display for the hours, minutes or seconds, the Day&Night offers a new way of measuring time, splitting the universe of time into two fundamentally opposing sections: day versus night.”
What’s most impressive about the Day&Night is its complexity, given its absolute uselessness. The watch features two tourbillons — devices that overcome the ill effects of earth’s gravity on a watch’s accuracy — connected by a differential mechanism. Instead of hands, the watch has a “contemplative tourbillon operation whereby the ‘Day’ tourbillon operates for 12 hours to symbolize working life, while the ‘Night’ tourbillon takes over afterward to represent an individual’s private time.”
Like other Romain Jerome watches, the watch is made in part with steel salvaged from the sunken Titanic, along with material from the shipyard where it was built. That sounds creepy to me, but maybe today’s buyers prefer morbid metals.
The company’s chief executive, Yvan Arpa, cited statistical studies to explain how the watch better reflects the time-philosophy of today’s wealthy.
“When you ask people what is the ultimate luxury, 80 percent answer ‘time’. Then when you look at other studies, 67 percent don’t look at their watch to tell what time it is,” he told Reuters.
He added that anyone can buy a watch that tells time — only a truly discerning customer can buy one that doesn’t.
And here’s the best part: The watch sold out within 48 hours of its launch.
More details from A Blog to Watch.

The bezel is "stabilized oxidized steel," not ordinary rusted steel.

I still can't figure out how to read the day-night time. There are obviously two tourbillons, a sun tourbillon on top and a moon below. There appear to be tiny stubby hands on each tourbillon, but I suppose that these are not hour and minute hands. The movement, RJ One, is described as a double tourbillon, differential sequential, whatever that means. Perhaps the energy of the mainspring is passed off from one to the other every 12 hours. But how is that indicated?

You'd think that the company was founded by a nutcase artsy type, but no:

"Originally founded in 2004 when several professional golfers admitted there was a place for a genuine golfer’s watch, Romain Jérome produced its first niche watch, the Hole in One Golf Counter. This wristwatch displayed a golfer’s score throughout the 18 holes, enabling players to follow their own progress along the course, count the strokes played for each hole and add them up in the process. Aesthetically designed to feature symbols such as clubs, tees and golf balls, the brand quickly established itself within this niche market."

same shit, different day
You have the love the attention to detail: There's a cyclops lens on the crystal, even though the face is completely blank.
I want to like this because it's so ballsy, but I can't get past the fact that this seems to be based on a fundamental misapprehension of the Schrödinger's Cat paradox.

[Skip this paragraph if you already know all about the Schrödinger's Cat paradox] Essentially, under a popular interpretation of quantum physics, a quantum system (e.g. a radioactive atom) exists in a superposition of various possible states but does not adopt any given state until it is observed or interacted with. Erwin Schrödinger proposed his cat paradox to highlight the absurdity of this interpretation; essentially, you put a cat in an opaque box that is rigged to a small amount of radioactive material, such that if the radioactive material decays and triggers a geiger counter, poison will be released into the box and the cat will die. Since the radioactive material exists in a superposition of states (decayed and non-decayed), and the cat's being alive or dead depends on the state of the radioactive material, then the cat must consequently also be in a superposition of states; i.e. both alive and dead. It is only when you open the box that both the radioactive material and the cat's state collapse into one or the other.

There are two problems with this conception of "Schrödinger's Watch". First, a watch movement is not a quantum system, and doesn't exhibit quantum effects. Second, and more significantly, the uncertainty derived from not being able to actually read your watch is trivial. Either your watch is accurate, or it is not. Either way, there is an objective measure of time that is external to your watch and will keep marching on regardless of what your watch says (or doesn't say because you can't read it).

There is a way to make a truly meaningful Schrödinger's Watch. The first step would involve miniaturizing an ultra high-precision atomic clock to the size of a wristwatch. Next, get all the countries in the world to agree that this miniature atomic clock is the world's master clock (i.e. whatever time it displays, that is The Time for the entire human race). The world must also agree that its existing network of atomic clocks is not definitive but merely an approximation of the master clock. Finally, fully cover or remove the display of the new master clock, mount it on straps, and sell it.

This would truly be Schrödinger's Watch. This miniature atomic clock would be a quantum system which is unobserved and therefore exists in a superposition of states (decaying faster, slower, or not at all). Since what Time it is depends on the state of the Watch, the Time is therefore also in a superposition of states, which could be literally any time from the manufacture of the Schrödinger's Watch.

The upshot is that the owner of Schrödinger's Watch will never again be late for a meeting, because the Time could well be whatever he says it is. This is what it would truly mean to not follow the time, but take the time with you.
Pretentious stuff for pretentious idiots.
Figure the watch is from the same factory that make cat-killing boxes
A line in the description of this watch on the website seems to imply (it's unclear because of the weird translation from German) that the second hand (but no other hand) can be seen once per minute, presumably passing through the circular hole that the face plate seems to have at the top.
I fucking love this. It's so very odd. If I had way, way too much money to spend I would buy one.
Yeah all cool, great story but... How can you tell the time or how to not with this 2k $ watch.?
I read about this a while back..... I applaud the ballsy effort, and wish them all the luck that quantum physics will allow in selling this quite useless (though minimally attractive) bracelet.... erm..... watch
Great. Check out the whole story:
The whole concept of time is weird. It has become a parameter that we discretize our lives with.

(step on to soap box)

Somehow we have become convinced that it is a reasonable measure of progress, success, etc. Consider the hourly wage as a metric of success, is it really possible to measure the worth of someones life per unit time? Life is the most precious thing we have, and every moment can be our last.
This gets more confusing when you think about how much life can be experienced within a unit of time. The quantity of experience, if quantifiable at all, seems to vary with the rate of experiencing; i.e. time seems to pass slower when you are super alert.

(step off)

My primary reason for wearing a watch is to coordinate, in time, with other people. This watch would not serve that purpose.