Sunday, May 2, 2010

Scientist's Watch

I was doing some logo research for a friend working on a swimsuit company logo and ended up on the Rolex website. After waiting for the Flash to load I jumped back with revulsion at the Yacht-master II. Then I found the switch to go to HTML mode and I went through the selection of Oyster watches. After The Yacht-Master comes The Submariner, chosen by professionals with a taste for style and the deep (complete with link to David Doubilet's website. I want a sponsorship like that!). Then to my great surprise, The Milgauss: The Scientist's Watch. "The Oyster Perpetual Milgauss is the ultimate reference for those with a passion for the worlds of science and discovery." It has an orange lightning bolt for a second hand. And the minutes are labeled 5, 10, 15, 20, etc. Well that's handy, but why don't they put 13 through 24 on there so people like me who can't add 12 in their head have an easier time writing 24 hour time on our scientific documentation? Anyway, I suppose it's a moot point. Any scientist still filling out logs in the field when they can afford to wear a freaking Rolex with an orange lightning bolt second hand has bigger problems. If I was that scientist I would have a somebody write me a special app for my 3G iPad with GPS to automatically record my position and time whenever I needed to record field notes.

I was typing this while I was still reading the Rolex website because now that I get farther along I see that they already thought of my concern with 24 hour time -- The Explorer II. "A prolonged absence of natural light when exploring polar regions or caving can lead to chronotaraxis (disorientation in time), which happens more often than one would imagine. The 24-hour graduated bezel of the Explorer II in conjunction with the red 24-hour hand assists explorers in distinguishing night hours from day hours, no matter their location." Well I suppose chronotaraxis does sound less embarrassing than admitting to dyscalculia, my inability to add 12 in my head.

The second hand on the Milgauss looks just like this, only orange with an arrow on one end.

Rolex has a video for this watch. It doesn't do anything but show closeups of the watch with light painting effects behind it. I am ashamed of myself for thinking it was kind of awesome.

But what's special about it? Why Milgauss? Is it resistant to magnetic fields as close as one thousandth of an inch? Well after going through 5 more pages of HTML I find out mil isn't one thousandth of an inch, it's short for mille, or French for a thousand. This watch can resist magnetic fields of up to 1,000 gauss. That's 1/10th of a tesla. They have Maxwell's equations in French written out behind the graphic of they shield for the movement. Classy.

So what's a Milgauss good for? Can you wear this watch near an MRI machine? Well according to Wikipedia those are 9.4 T, so I'm going to say no. Tesla is an SI unit equivalent to one volt second per meter squared. So the field drops off with the square of the distance in meters so you'd need to be more than 8 meters away from that high powered MRI machine for your Milgauss watch to be unharmed. I think the hospital ones may be more like 1.5 T, (so says How Stuff Works) so doctors sporting a Milgauss only have to stay back about 4 meters. That means they'd have to put those machines in the middle of a room 30 feet square to get 1/10 T field at the edge of the room. They sure don't look that big on House. Those Apple computers in the little glass room don't look like they're even 4 meters away. If a special Rolex isn't even as robust in a magnetic field as an Apple computer, then to hell with it. Why not just tell the time with your iPhone?

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