What Is A 24 Hour Analog Watch And Why Use One?

A 24 hour analog watch is a mechanical watch that uses the 24 hour clock system of timekeeping. In fact, many countries today use the 24 hour format! You can easily find a 24 hour watch on popular online marketplaces such as Amazon and Ebay.

In this article, we will be discussing the 24 hour analog watch. I feel that it is important to make the distinction between the analog watch, and digital watches, as many digital and smartwatches can also be switched to 24 hour time. To start, let’s discuss how to tell time on a 24 hour analog watch.

How To Tell Time On A 24 Hour Analog Watch

tell time on a 24 hour analog watch

The first, and most obvious thing you will notice about a 24 hour watch is that instead of being numbered to 12, it is numbered to 24. While a standard mechanical watch has to have the watch hands travel around the dial twice in 1 day, the 24 hour watch hands only have to travel around the dial once in 1 day.

In 24 hour time, there is no am or pm. As such, many 24 hour watches may only feature a single hand. Do not, however, confuse these with a one handed watch. A one handed watch will still use the 12 hour time format. It just does so using a single hand.

To tell time on a 24 hour watch you start at the 24. The 24th marker stands for midnight, and can be read as 2400 or 0000 hours. You would say it in a sentence as twenty-four hundred or zero hundred hours. Everything after that is read like that as you see it.

Further Explanation

So to further explain this, 1:00 would be read as 0100 or spoken as O one-hundred hours. 2:00 would be 0200, or O two-hundred hours, and so on, and so on. 4:15 would be 0415 or O four-hundred fifteen. You get the picture.

Where people start getting confused is after 12:00 pm. But it is really quite simple. You just keep going up until you get to 24. So 1:00 pm would be 13:00 or thirteen-hundred hours. That’s pretty much all there is to it.

The only other thing that could be a cause of confusion is that the 24th hour marker can be placed in different locations on the watch, depending on what type of 24 hour watch you are looking at.

For instance, sometimes the 24th hour marker can be on the top or bottom of the watch face, or even on the sides. Regardless of where the 24th hour marker is located, you would still count the hours the same way starting from there.

Why Use 24 Hour Watches?

The next question that you may have is, why even use 24 hour time on a watch at all? Well, 24 hour time is more accurate, and less prone to errors. As stated earlier, 24 hour time doesn’t have an am or pm since it is a full 24 hours, rather than two 12 hour segments split into am and pm. This means there is less room for making errors like mistaking the am for pm.

This is part of the reason why you always hear 24 hour time referred to as “military time”. The 24 hour format is used in more specialized fields such as the military, navigation, science and computing, as well as hospitals. This lack of need for a distinction between am and pm makes 24 hour watches far more useful in such areas.

Actual 24 hour analog watches are far less common nowadays. These types of watches fit more into the watch enthusiast niche. The 24 hour analog watch is more likely to be sought out by watch collectors than by everyday people. Well at this point you may have been wondering how the 24 hour format came to be in the first place. We’ll dive right into that next!

How Did 24 Hour Time Start?

how did 24 hour time start

Ancient Origins

24 hour time is actually the oldest form of time keeping. 24 hour time started with sundials. On a sundial, it was the position of the shadow cast by the sun onto the sundial that marked what time it was in the day. It was basically the equivalent of a 24 hour clock.

The earliest forms of sundials were first known to be used in ancient Egypt. It wasn’t until much later on during the 14th century, however, that 24 hour time was introduced into mechanical clocks.

12 Hour Timekeeping During The Middle Ages

Later, around the 15th and 16th century near the end of the Middle Ages the 12 hour timekeeping system started gaining popularity. This is when you started to see 12 hour clocks being used more and more frequently.

It was around this time, that the 12 hour system was adopted as the main timekeeping system in Europe. However, the 24 hour time format was still being used in professional applications, such as astronomy and other sciences.

Near The Turn Of The 20th Century

24 hour time made a comeback though, in 1893, as Italy became the first country to formally standardize the 24 hour time format. From there, many other European countries made the 24 hour their national method of timekeeping. By the early 1920’s, many Latin American countries were also now using 24 hour time.

Integration Into Military Applications

Finally, it was during World War 1 that the 24 hour format inched its way into military use. Starting first, with the British Royal Navy in 1915, then the Canadian military in 1917. Next was the United States Navy in 1920. The United Sates Army, however, didn’t start using military time until 1942 during World War 2.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, 24 hour time has quite a rich history before ever even making it into the 24 hour analog watch. This would be part of the appeal to collectors and watch enthusiasts. By owning that watch, you are also owning a piece of that history.

That concludes this article on 24 hour analog watches. I hope that this article has been both interesting and informative!

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