Monday, March 23, 2009


Greenwich v. Rolex: It's Preemption Time

In an unprecedented move, the Greenwich Observatory has issued a preemption preamble as part of new clock-setting guidelines that would bring sweeping changes in the arena of private timepieces.

“We’ve had to deal with this long enough,” declared Lord Midi Minuit, Director of the Observatory. “Time zones were already a stretch,” said Minuit. “How can it be 1:00 p.m. in London and 9:00 a.m. in New York? Ridiculous.”

But the Observatory is carrying the fight further than its long battle over time zones. It now declares that any clocks or watches anywhere - even in Greenwich - that pretend to proclaim the time are preempted. In a prepared statement, the Observatory notes: “There is no way this Institution can go about its business when people are constantly looking at their wrists and second-guessing our scientific expertise. It is simply intolerable that a private wristwatch or some art deco cat on the wall should trump our finely honed determinations.”

Minuit elaborates: “First of all, you end up with a chaos of conflicting standards. Our own research has shown that when people notice a chronographic discrepancy between their microwave and their cell phone, they become dangerously disoriented. Some sprint about aimlessly. Some become dazed and numb. We know of cases in which people retreated into a fetal position from which they were unable to be unwound until that thing went down in Times Square (which is also preempted).”

“Second, there are the dangers of overtiming. Think of how many meals have been destroyed because the roast spent too long in the oven. Family dinners are obliterated, marriages fall into disarray, and you end up with a sky-rocketing divorce rate that signals the end of the traditional family.”

A number of Time Preemption cases are headed to the Supreme Court, so we should soon know where this will wind up. To this point, courts have been divided. In Timex v. Leap Year, a federal court of appeals agreed with the plaintiff that GMT is not the final word in every instance, and that wristwatches deserve to go forward. In Earth’s Rotation v. Bulova, however, an Iowa district court upheld the Observatory’s new preemption position. The judge in that case noted, “Just because you know what time it is in Cedar Rapids, does not mean you know what time it is. The Earth occupies the field in these matters. Kinda by definition.”

While no one should throw away their wrist and pocket watches yet, most observers agree that the Observatory’s position is likely to be upheld. Indeed, its supporters are already beginning to focus on an upcoming battle over standardizing weights and measures. Many are looking forward to a major offensive in the arena of Quart Reform.


  1. What wound you up, Greenwich…who's setting off your alarm bells???

    Your preamble’s cuckoo. The Committee wants to know whose pocket you’re in and who’s pullin’ the chain. Tick-tock, these cops are gonna find out if your hands are dirty and what you knew and what time you knew it!!

    Time’s awastin’. Spill the beans, now, or someone’s gonna clean your clock!!

  2. Give me a few second, Beulah. While it may seem like a clockamamie idea to you, there are a lot of people counting on us for up to the minute expertise. We have nothing to disclose other than a consulting relationship with the Sun. Just shows how hot we are!

  3. Just hopped over from the other thread. Pretty sure I'm the MANIC PART!


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