Letter Re: Time “OUT”


I very much enjoyed the article. Great information. This is something that I have thought about for quite some time. My question is how do I re-synchronize my watch to the proper time if I forget and let it die overnight? Thanks for the awesome blog and all the insight. – MRM

HJL Replies: There are a variety of ways that you can use to determine the time without another watch, some more accurate than others. A Google search will reveal at least 20 different ways. There are two that I remember right off the cuff, but you have to remember that there are inaccuracies that will seep into it. Absolute accuracy isn’t as important as synchronization with members of your group or other objects. As long as everyone using the time uses the same time, the inaccuracies don’t matter.

  1. Use the sun. When the sun is at its highest point in the sky (or directly above you), it’s 1200 (hence, the term “High Noon”).
  2. Use the North Star and Ursa Major (the big dipper). This only works in the northern hemisphere. Find the North Star and Ursa Major. The two stars on the dipper portion of Ursa Major line up with the North Star. Think of this picture as a clock face (12 on top, 3 to the right, 6 on bottom, 9 to the left of the North Star). The two stars that line up are an hour hand. Find the “raw” time by locating where on the clock face the two stars are. On March 7th, Ursa Major will be exactly at 0000 on midnight. You can add one hour for every month after March 7th. (Or, you can subtract one hour for every month before March 7th.) For example, if Ursa Major is at 0200 on April 7th, the time will be 0300. Then you double the time for the actual time. If the doubled time is more than 24, subtract the number from 48. The resultant number is military time for your location. You can get as accurate as you can envision the clock face and calculate months or partial months. Every 5 days will amount to about 10 minutes. (To be precise, you will add or subtract two minutes for every day after or before March 7th.)

Both methods will give you planetary time based on your location, which will not necessarily coordinate with your time zone. Just look at a time zone map of the world and you will see why. If your goal is absolute time with regards to UTC, you will have to calculate time with regard to your position within your time zone, as well as adjustments for seasonal variance.

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I enjoyed KT’s article on time pieces for SHTF. As a clock repairman and admirer of fine watches, I can say he has put a lot of thought into his entry. There is value in high-dollar watches, probably a much better investment than paper dollars!

I am a pocket watch guy and prefer the gentleman grade, Swiss movement of 17 to 21 jewels, stem wind stem set. Rail road watches are synonymous with “don’t drop them!” I own several good mechanical wrist watches and two Seiko battery watches. Plus, I keep a cigar box with some old watches as trade goods.

As to clocks, the Atmos is a high dollar clock and very collectible; sadly, there are some clock repairmen who will not repair them, as they require special tools to work on and are exotic in their atmospheric winding. Happily a good quality time only, 8 day, weight driven, long pendulum, wall clock with a fine threaded regulating nut on the bottom of the pendulum bob will probably keep better time and be much easier to keep running then the rotary pendulum Atmos.

At any rate for SHTF times, have both a battery clock and a mechanical clock you like and trust. Have several (the rule of 3) wind up pocket or wrist watches that suit your needs and station in life. (They are a status thing.) Sincerely – A.M.