What is Time?

Each year seems to pass like a flashing light, even sometimes accelerating without me having any control over it.

Moments are fleeting times we can only lock up in our memories because time never stops, not for you, not for me…

Each passing moment is a grim reminder of dreams unfulfilled or time wasted searching the wrong ideals. But it is also a declaration of life, of new beginnings, of rebirth.

Whilst it is true that time is the SINGLE thing humanity shares synchronously, its value however is not so obviously shared. Some wish they could stop it while others cannot wait for it to pass. To some, time is money, to others it carries pain and suffering.

I am fascinated by the emotional charge that lies in time.

“I wish…..”

“…I could turn back time and have had more memories with my grandma before she passed.”

“…I could take back the hurtful things I said to my friend.”

“If only time could have slowed down when I was with my love.”

Have you ever wished to go back in time and undo certain actions or repeat others?

Time is an interesting thing as it is both a reality and a concept. Does it really exist or is it a figment of our imagination? Is time the important factor or is it what we do with it and how we experience it?

“The Key of Time” 

Life has an interesting way to show up. It always teaches the best lessons in the least expected manner, at the least expected moment.

I was attending an event organised by a big name in the watch industry and happened to sit next to the brand’s Director of Research & Development, Mathias Buttet. We didn’t really engage in a conversation until only the end of the night as I was about to take off. I’m so glad I didn’t!

Mathias is a scientist with the heart of a poet. Since the topic of the evening was watches, talking about time seemed quite relevant and fitting. However the turn that the conversation took was not only unexpected but oh so exhilarating, to the point that I asked him if I could properly interview him. The way he described time and his relationship to it touched and inspired me so much that I wanted to know more.

I wanted to understand the drive and reasoning behind the invention of his infamous “Key of Time”. 

This unique watch was born out of a desire to give time a new meaning, to prolong beautiful and special moments in our lives and speed up the ones we dread the most. Basically it is designed to let us live life at our own speed.

By Mathias Buttet

La Clef du Temps” is my all time favorite piece out of all the complicated devices I have created until now. I am always late and genuinely dislike the idea of time and what it means. I don’t wear watches unless I have to (quite interesting coming from a man developing watches!). To me a watch is a contract we make with the world which forces everyone to move at the same speed, with no regards to our possible emotional attachment to time.

Does Time really exist? I’m not convinced of it.

I was eager to create a piece which would respect time the way I wanted to respect it. When spending time with a beautiful lady or with my kids I would like one hour to last for ever. And when I am with someone I don’t care for, I would love the possibility to end the meeting fast.

With this crazy idea in mind, we invented a watch that can slow down time or speed it up by four. A simple button can change the course of a day or even a life.

It was quite a complicated and expensive undertaking that took over 1.5 years to conceive. 

As proud as I am, I must also admit that this watch is the perfect device to lose friends because you inevitably are always late! But if you are prepared and willing to play the game fully, it is the most fantastic toy because it helps you realise how little time matters. It is not about what time it is but more about what you do with it.

Time does not care about wealth or power – it cannot be bought or coerced. We may be able to extend our life with a healthy lifestyle but we cannot extend the number of hours in a day.

We all have emotional stories related to time and they are seldom beautiful – always attached to a sad moment or thought. We are young then one day we look in the mirror and we notice wrinkles, gray hair. Our body starts to ache. We then try everything we can to slow down time and reverse the ageing process but sadly no amount of plastic surgery will ever change reality.

So imagine if you could, with a push of a button, spend four more hours doing what makes you happy?

The Key of Time is not as poetic as it is a statement – it screams “Fuck Off Time”!

I remember as a kid, while at boarding school with nuns, I became fascinated with St. Augustine’s Confessions Book XI – Time and Eternity.

In this book, he has a feud with God. He says that God may not exist because time does not exist. The next part that captivated my attention the most was his surprising monologue about time.

” It’s clear that the past does not exist, or at least does not exist anymore. It existed once but not anymore. We can all agree that the past is the past and we cannot make it come back. There is nothing we can do, it has already passed. The future does not yet exist but it will. It does not exist yet and we cannot create it. It will come and we cannot do anything about it. It will be the way it will be and we will be forced to deal with it the way it is. So the future does not exist yet as the past does not exist anymore.”

Then he turns to the present which seems to be the only time that exists and says “but how long does the present last for in reality? One day? One minute? One hour? As we are discussing it, it sits already in the past!

Time is therefore quite an animal! To exist, one must transform into past therefore it cannot exist any longer in the present. So if the present does not exist , the future does not exist and the past does not exist, then time simply does not exist! Then what was before God existed? “

Nothing because Time did not exist!

St. Augustine’s perspective reminds us that we live not for the past or the future, but always for this moment, the Now. 

Written by Ariane Tavakol