What time is it?
July 5, 2009 7:43 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a clock. Here's the catch: I don't want it to be able to keep the right time.

I want a clock that will be within say +/- 10 minutes of the actual time. It should stay randomly in that range so that I can tell the approximate time without knowing the actual time. I find that once I get into a routine I am constantly cutting the time close to leaving. Mind you I'm never late but I'm also rarely early. I figure a random clock will force me to leave earlier because I'll be basing my decision on the worst case scenario. Just setting my clock 5 minutes fast won't solve anything if I know that it's always 5 minutes fast.

So does anyone make a clock that doesn't keep time?
posted by woolylambkin to Technology (20 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Get a cheap mechanical watch, never adjust it, and only set it to the correct time once or twice a year. Or never.
posted by Nonce at 7:46 PM on July 5, 2009

Riffing on odinsdream's suggestion: replace an appropriate portion of the minute hand with a piece of flexible wire, or a feather, etc.
posted by a halcyon day at 7:49 PM on July 5, 2009 [2 favorites]

Take off the minute hand altogether. You can guesstimate the time just by where the hour hand is.
posted by qwip at 7:49 PM on July 5, 2009

Best answer: Most clocks with an error will tend to accumulate that error in one direction or the other, not randomly stay in some error range. For a digital clock, just tape over the last digit.
posted by Krrrlson at 7:50 PM on July 5, 2009

It's not a physical clock, but if you have a Mac, you can use FuzzyClock to view the approximate time in the upper right hand corner of the screen. For example, right now instead of a number it says "nearly eleven."
posted by itstheclamsname at 7:58 PM on July 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

This watch with no hands looks like it keeps good time, but with a display that has the vagueness of accuracy you're looking for. Or maybe this one will work.
posted by Prospero at 8:00 PM on July 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

I used to keep my clock at whatever time it happened to be at whenever the power went out. So if at 5:42 I discovered it was blinking 12:00 I would set it to 12:01 to fix the blinking. Then I'd know it was about 6 hours and 20 minutes fast. And if I needed to know what time it was I could do the math, but the math was hard so I never quite new exactly what time it was, but if I really needed to know, I could figure it out more or less.

*If you're wondering why I would do this. First, I was too lazy to set the clock. Second, I hate waking up in the middle of the night and being confronted with the time and thinking "oh I've only been in bed an hour" or "only two more hours to sleep." My fake-time clock never resulted in being involuntarily confronted with the time. I only knew the time if I made the choice to do the math.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 8:03 PM on July 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

Here's another clock you'd have to work hard to read accurately.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 8:11 PM on July 5, 2009

Have a different friends set the clock when they come over at different times during the week. Don't let them tell you what they set it at.
posted by deezil at 8:26 PM on July 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

This watch gives the closest five minutes. It's expensive, but would probably be fairly simple to DIY, especially on a full-size clock.

Or you could set all your clocks (alarm, car, computer, kitchen, stereo, work, etc.) to slightly different wrong times. Works for me and I didn't even do it on purpose.
posted by Bigfoot Mandala at 8:47 PM on July 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

I set my clock to 17 minutes ahead. Like IOIHAP, I can figure out the time if I want to, but it's faster to guess.
posted by LSK at 10:02 PM on July 5, 2009

Google "Approximate Time Clock" for ones like this day clock.
posted by TDIpod at 10:29 PM on July 5, 2009

I used to keep my car clock 8 minutes fast and even though I knew it was fast, I still made it early to most things because just having the clock say "2:59" instead of the real time, "2:51" helped me be on time.
posted by IndigoRain at 10:32 PM on July 5, 2009

what about a dozen identical clocks all slightly out, that you can see all at once
posted by compound eye at 12:13 AM on July 6, 2009

I can see a new project forming...

A clock face with twelve dowel pegs around the edge, then replacing the minute hand with a piece of springy metal that is long enough that the tip gets stuck on a peg for three or four minutes. So that at 5 past the hand touches the dowel and holds there until about 8 or 9 past, and then notches forwards onto the next bay...
posted by twine42 at 3:47 AM on July 6, 2009

Can you have someone else set your clocks at your house for slightly off times so you don't know which is right?
posted by murrey at 5:17 AM on July 6, 2009

Best answer: There's a flash app that does exactly this: A Chindogu clock for procrastinators. Apparently a physical version has been patented, but I don't know if anyone's actually making them.
posted by embrangled at 5:24 AM on July 6, 2009

murrey has it.
Have a friend set your clocks for you, within your 20 minute window around the actual time, and not tell you. Could be 10 minutes early could be 10 minutes late...only your friend really knows.
posted by nineRED at 6:33 AM on July 6, 2009

The only drawback to having someone else set it, is that you will eventually know. My cell phone keeps perfect time since it gets it from the network, and if I ever compare the phone to the (off) clock even once, I'll know the difference and will remember it. Not being able to figure this out prevents me from every defeating myself, if I were to do this.

The idea of intentionally obscuring the minutes part of the clock seems like the best option to me.
posted by GJSchaller at 9:46 AM on July 6, 2009

Response by poster: embrangled has exactly what I'm looking for. Until I can find a physical Chindogu clock though I will be the proud owner of a digital clock with a piece of duct tape on it.

Thanks for the help everyone!
posted by woolylambkin at 12:45 PM on July 6, 2009

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