Swatch Internet Time

I came across an interesting site recently called timeanddate.com which has answers to pretty much any and all time/date related questions. Among their many articles and resources, I found an extremely thorough explanation of Swatch Internet Time, including a tool for converting Internet Time to “standard” time in about 130 different time zones.

What is Internet Time?

I wrote about Internet Time in my review of the Swatch Paparazzi (watch pictured at right). Internet Time is to time what the metric system is to measurement. It was invented by Swatch, and as far as I know, isn’t much more than a marketing gimmick at this point, although I personally think it’s a pretty interesting concept. Internet Time does away with time zones, and with the basically arbitrary units of 60 and 24. The day is divided into 1000 “beats” with each beat equaling 1 minute and 26.4 seconds. Since there are no time zones in Internet Time, the time is the same all over the world with the reference point being Biel, Switzerland, the location of Swatch Group’s headquarters. This “new meridian” is referred to as BMT, or Biel Mean Time. Internet Time is expressed by the number of beats proceeded by an “at” (@) symbol. For instance, 2:27 PM in San Francisco is expressed as @997.

I really like the concept of Internet Time for two primary reasons:

  1. It has the same kind of intuitive logic as the metric system.
  2. You don’t have to worry about time zones. I often work with people all over the world, and doing the conversions can be a pain.

Of course, time zones do serve a very valuable purpose. They allow us to relate more easily to other parts of the world. For instance, if I schedule a meeting at @997, and I’m expecting people from all over the world to join, I have no way of knowing if @997 is in the middle of the night, early in the morning, or right smack in the middle of the day for the other attendees. Time zones, on the other hand, allow me to get a relative sense of time so I can schedule meetings at times that are convenient for all parties.

Check out the article on timeanddate.com for a much more thorough analysis of Internet Time.

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