Here’s why your next watch should have a date window
In the “days before” most of our lives had a certain natural rhythm. Not only was the line between home and work more marked, but the year was marked by key events, whether it be travel, holidays or social gatherings. In retrospect, these calendar entries were surprisingly valuable as subtle sanity boosts. As well as providing something to look forward to on gray days, they helped demarcate weeks and months, creating indentations for your mind to chisel the sprawl of existence into manageable chunks.
And then came the global pandemic. In the midst of this permanent ordeal, the scaffolding of our daily life has been demolished. Schedules were forcibly removed and many plans canceled or suspended indefinitely. Whatever your age or stage, COVID will have erased some of the defining edges of your life. This is especially true during a foreclosure when the days can merge and the weekends lose their precious shine. In short, it’s easy to lose sight of
time, a phenomenon clinically known as “temporal dislocation”.
Disturbingly, temporal dislocation is often used by military interrogators as a form of mild torture. In the academic journal Extreme Physiology & Medicine, Dr John Leach, a former military psychologist, discusses how manipulating certain stimuli can help break a prisoner’s resistance. Temporal disorientation, he writes, along with isolation, sensory deprivation, and sleep deprivation, can accumulate stress on the cognitive system. The reason such tactics are useful for an interrogator is that they undermine the prisoner’s sense of control.
Leach discusses the psychological effects of temporal disorientation. “Denying people the way to tell the time or even know the day at night is a common practice designed to cause confusion and cognitive disorientation,” he explains. “This can be achieved by removing watches and other timepieces, manipulating clocks, reversing sleep, excluding natural light, interrupted work schedules, assigning pseudo-random hours to meals, showers and other regular activities. “
It is no exaggeration to suggest that anyone who has experienced a COVID lockdown will have suffered a low-level temporal dislocation. When you’ve been stuck at home in your sweatpants all week, the previous days melt into a shapeless blur with no distinctive features. Obviously, as a reader of Men’s Health, you’re pretty resistant to gentle torture (your mind is a fortress, after all). But if you want to further strengthen your defenses, we suggest you wear a watch with a date window.
Some die-hard watch geeks tend to be a little funny about date windows. Their placement is sometimes seen as adding unnecessary bulk and disrupting the balance and symmetry of a dial. Functionally, however, a date window makes sense, especially in these formless COVID weeks where structure and routine are scarce. Rather than being sucked into the fog of lockdown, your timepiece can help you maintain a sense of control by chronicling the rolling days to keep you from undocking psychologically. Think of it as a little act of provocative optimism every time you look at your wrist. Yep, it might be another fucked up year, but you’re gonna be watching it in real time.