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Discussion Starter #1
The question sounds rather trivial, however I think there is perhaps more to it than it seems on the first glance. Why? Because there are so many different watch face designs.

How do you read the time from an analogue watch

What I'm interested in is, in which order do you read it?

Some detailed questions to stimulate discussion: What is the mental representation of time in your mind? Do you read the whole time, or perhaps only the minutes? How precisely do you read it, to the second, or perhaps only to a few minutes? How long does it take you to read the time? Do you notice large differences reading time from different watches? How often do you read time from your watch? Is it easier to you reading from a digital watch? Do you find some aspects of time representation confusing? Do you add error intervals in your head?
 

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Huh? Damn, that's like asking, "Can you explain all the individual steps and thought processes to button a shirt?" Simple procedure, but actually very complex if you break it down to the component finger movements. I guess I look at the hands and just see the time (I process the whole image, not individual parts). I don't even look at the gradations unless someone asks me specifically (like at a station). I just approximate based on position in my head. In that sense, it is quicker than actually reading a digital display for me. I only process that error rate when I'm working off of another timer/clock that I know if off compared to mine.

It's only confusing if the watch/clock's hour/minute/second hand is designed in a way to be easily confused with each other at a quick glance. And I guess it's annoying if the minute hand is covering the date.
 
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I just simply look at the hour hand, then the minute hand.
 
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Some weird, Freudian questions here...

How do I read it ? By looking at the watch face ? Or at the lume dots if its dark ? :think:

How long does it take me to read the time? Well, when I was 5-6 it used to take me a few seconds maybe. Now, as long as it takes to glance at it, of course there are some watch dials with easier to spot time than other but mine are pretty easy.

How often do I check the time ? Probably 5-10 times a day, maybe less. How often do I check my watch , without checking the time, just admiring it ? If it's a newer one, 100's of times per day :-!

Is it easier to read the time on a digital? Yes, probably, as the brain processes that info in a split second whereas on a analog dial I guess it take a few milliseconds longer. Does it matter? Not really, unless those milliseconds make some difference for you.

Do I read the seconds ? I'm not that OCD! No, unless I'm checking it against time.is or something.

Do I find some aspects of time representation confusing? No, not really but then again I'm not into weird dial/display watches as there are many out there. What I do find confusing is how many people buy pseudo-Swiss or barely Swiss junk, I won't mention brand names but we all know them, when there's so much more fauna to choose from out there.

Now I have a question for you>

What was the purpose of these (unusual) questions ?
 

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Some weird, Freudian questions here...

How do I read it ? By looking at the watch face ? Or at the lume dots if its dark ? :think:

How long does it take me to read the time? Well, when I was 5-6 it used to take me a few seconds maybe. Now, as long as it takes to glance at it, of course there are some watch dials with easier to spot time than other but mine are pretty easy.

How often do I check the time ? Probably 5-10 times a day, maybe less. How often do I check my watch , without checking the time, just admiring it ? If it's a newer one, 100's of times per day :-!

Is it easier to read the time on a digital? Yes, probably, as the brain processes that info in a split second whereas on a analog dial I guess it take a few milliseconds longer. Does it matter? Not really, unless those milliseconds make some difference for you.

Do I read the seconds ? I'm not that OCD! No, unless I'm checking it against time.is or something.

Do I find some aspects of time representation confusing? No, not really but then again I'm not into weird dial/display watches as there are many out there. What I do find confusing is how many people buy pseudo-Swiss or barely Swiss junk, I won't mention brand names but we all know them, when there's so much more fauna to choose from out there.

Now I have a question for you>

What was the purpose of these (unusual) questions ?
He wants to know what makes us tick.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
From time to time I'm teaching in labs for first year physics courses. Explaining how to read micrometer screws, vernier calipers, old fashioned scales and so on.*

Watches are in general much less intuitive to read, as two different units are displayed on one scale. The hours on a scale with 12 increments, and minutes and seconds in 60 increments. So one has to switch the asignment of scales when reading. Based on this, and also on the difficulties my students have reading a vernier scale, I don't think it is so trivial. (We always have to hide the digital caliper.)

I can explain how i do the reading: I don't perceive reading the hours. If I do it at all, in general i know the hour. Reading the minute before the seconds, as the seconds would be off by the time i have the seconds.

I found out that my B-Type Seiko SNK803, where minutes are written at five minute ticks is much faster to read than my much larger and high contrast watch where the ticks are not labeled with numbers for minutes.

My watch is highly symmetric, at times where my sense of time doesn't help me i can easily confuse times, for example 17:55 looks nearly identical to 18:05. My own feeling for time is often not good enough to notice that. The direction the second hand moves gives it away though, it still is a confusion. Having some numbers on the dial would prevent that.


*I think this was also one of the incentives to get an old fashioned watch, somehow there is a good old tradition of reading with the principle: Pointer indicates value on a scale.
 

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I read the time to within 5 minutes or so...quarter 'til 8, 10 past 3, etc. However, I try to set my watches within a second or two. Weird, now that I think about it.
 

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I read the time to within 5 minutes or so...quarter 'til 8, 10 past 3, etc. However, I try to set my watches within a second or two. Weird, now that I think about it.
But within a second or two of what? An atomic or GPS signal? Even the Japanese subway system gives a minute or so leeway.
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
Huh? Damn, that's like asking, "Can you explain all the individual steps and thought processes to button a shirt?" Simple procedure, but actually very complex if you break it down to the component finger movements. I guess I look at the hands and just see the time (I process the whole image, not individual parts). I don't even look at the gradations unless someone asks me specifically (like at a station). I just approximate based on position in my head. In that sense, it is quicker than actually reading a digital display for me. I only process that error rate when I'm working off of another timer/clock that I know if off compared to mine.
Well you can button a shirt from the top, or the bottom, or just open the top buttons and put it on like one does with a t-shirt.

But you answered a lot of questions (thank you!): you read with a five minute accuracy, by not reading the scale per se, but comparing to memorized clock positions. It'd be interesting if you break it down into memorized positions for hour and minute hand, or if you memorized positions for all possible positions, or and that might the most likely — a superposition of both concepts. But that might be only found out in a functional MRT. \grin

That is rather interesting. Perhaps we shall see if that is typical or not.

Some weird, Freudian questions here...
While I'm not a psychologist, i'm not fond of Freud at all. *sdog goes away to sulk in a dark subforum. j/k
Is it easier to read the time on a digital? Yes, probably, as the brain processes that info in a split second whereas on a analog dial I guess it take a few milliseconds longer. Does it matter? Not really, unless those milliseconds make some difference for you.
It takes a bit more concentration and thought, at least for me. I'd say a second or two more than digital. Especially the first time. If i repeat the measurement after a minute or two it's much faster.

Do I read the seconds ? I'm not that OCD! No, unless I'm checking it against time.is or something.

I teach to read instruments to their accuracy and drop data that is not required in the next step. This is not a good argument here, as with routine people do not tend to stick to it.

I find the second hand very important, as at times it is important for me whether it is 17:58:05 or 17:58:50. The former means i can walk, the latter means i have to run, to arrive before 18:00:00. While that matters to me perhaps once or twice a month, i try to practice reading the full time. So i can quickly do so when needed, wich also means i'm in a hurry.


Now I have a question for you>

What was the purpose of these (unusual) questions ?
This is a watch forum. i e it is foremost concerned with providing easily portable instruments to measure, and display time. The large variety of doing so suggests there are different strategies and requirements for that. (I outright ignore that some people are in WUS for the looks only, treat watches as jewelry only, and are not concerned with the time at all.) I thought it might be an interesting topic to discus, providing different enough points of view for debate, without falling into pointless brand squabble.

He wants to know what makes us tick.
Otto, i thought you were looking for that repair man in NYC for your collection, not for yourself. tock
 

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Discussion Starter #10
But within a second or two of what? An atomic or GPS signal? Even the Japanese subway system gives a minute or so leeway.
I've seen a subway driver in Tokyo publicly reprimanded because the train stopped 15 to 20 cm to far from a line on the ground. The poor man had to take a ruler, kneel down on the platform and confirm his supervisors measurement.

The same or another supervisor were also standing on the terminal platform reading their watches very ostentatiously when trains came in. I'm certain while they get a minute leeway, the drivers will be frowned upon by the supervisors for much less. I'm not certain if it is a figment of my memory, but i think to remember the supervisor used a pocket watch.
 

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I prefer analog watches, because it's easier to see that the time is 5 minutes to 8, or a quarter to ten.

John
 

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Well, am I reading the time for me or for someone else that asked me for the time?

For myself it's pretty simple really ..... I see the direction that the minute hand is pointing and I know that I've got to get where I'm going by the time the minute reaches my target time ..... nothing else needs to be said
 
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I don't know! I just do...:-s
I tried thinking about how I breathed, passed out....that was scary. I don't think about those
kind of things anymore, too dangerous. I gave up after, which sock/shoe/pants leg, do you put
on first, and why....:-s
 
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I love neuroscience. How we do the mundane is pretty cool because you dont actually think about it most of the time. Us older folks (meaning people who grew up with analog watches) long ago learned to recognise most of the possible options the watch presents. From there the brain commits it to heuristics. You recognise the time just like a friends face. You only have to think about it when you need to be more accurate or you need to make a comparison or calculation. At least that's the way I understood what I read. For my teenagers who dont wear watches or wear digital, they need to read each position. Like i said...you have to love this stuff...very very cool.

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I tend to look at both the hour & minute hands at the same time, noting approx. distance to the nearest five minute increment. While I like to watch second hands, I was just noting last night how I appreciated the way the second hand was practically invisible on one watch unless your looking for it or the light hits it just right.
 

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I like how an analog dial helps me 'visualize' time. Looking at a digital merely presents me with the time in a digital, sterile way.

Looking at an analog dial presents me with time as not only the current time but how the current time is in relation to the whole spectrum of the twelve hour period. Does that make sense?
 

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I tend to glance at the face and then process the data as a whole while I am looking up again. At a glance that should get me within 5 minutes. If I need a more exact time I will look back at the minute hand. I generally am not aware of the second hand unless I am looking for it.
 

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Minute - Hour - Seconds. In that order. Always.

I read analog MUCH quicker than seeing the time in digital form (on pc, phone, whatever). I only look at the date when I need it, and only the date (day is stupid, never matters, but there is a cool factor on the weekends). I have to wake up to a digital time display (clock or phone) or it takes too long to process. Never thought about it before I read this post, maybe I have too much "time" on my "hands". Clever, right?
 

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I tend to look at both the hour & minute hands at the same time, noting approx. distance to the nearest five minute increment. While I like to watch second hands, I was just noting last night how I appreciated the way the second hand was practically invisible on one watch unless your looking for it or the light hits it just right.
Yes, this too.

But without a seconds hand I always worry that the watch might not be running. (I do realize that I may have greater problems than time keeping)
 

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I'll look at the minutes hand first, and then the hours hand. I know this, because when someone asks me what time it is, I'll usually reply something like, "It's 20 past 3." As I'm saying the "20 past" I'm looking at the hours hand, and by the time I've read it, I could give the hour of "3."

But that's only when someone asks me. When I say the time in my head, I'm sure I would say it as "3:20," but I would also assume that I use the same cognitive process to get there.
 
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