Keeping track of the day

· mumblings ·

It can be difficult to keep a grip on time passing, particularly when you are working and living in the same place with little opportunity to travel to other places, and little variation in the pattern of your days and weeks. A few weeks ago, I discovered the ‘Solar Dial’ watch face on Apple Watch. I don’t know if it is new for WatchOS 7, or if it was there all the time and I hadn’t found it, but I really like it.

It is an attractive face, but what I enjoy most about it is that it helps me to stay connected to the passing of time and the rising and setting of the sun. The outer dial shows a 24 hour period, and a single hand with a disc representing the sun sweeps around this dial. The disc is filled to show the state of the sun, and the segment of the circle representing daylight hours changes colour to mimic the colour and brightness of the sky at that time of day. So, for example, the ‘sky’ becomes dimmer and pinky-golden around sunrise and sunset.

At our latitude, this display makes you acutely conscious of how much time you have in daylight, and how that sector shrinks as we move towards the shortest day. I am trying to make sure that I go out for at least 30 minutes every day and walk in the daylight, so the watch face helps to prompt me by showing me how little time I have left before I lose the light for another day. It was also interesting when the clocks went back an hour last weekend to see how the light sector ’tilted’ back an hour. In theory, of course, I know how this all works, but visualising it there on my wrist helps me to feel it somehow.

This connection to the natural world and natural cycles is going to become more important again this week as we go back into lockdown again for a month in England, but I think I would find it a useful practice anyway. Despite how it might sound, I love living in a temperate region, and I love the variety of the changing seasons. I don’t (most of the time) even mind the shorter days in winter, as it lends a preciousness to the time you do spend in the light, and a cosiness to the time in the dark. I love visiting tropical countries, but the regularity of the sunrise/sunset at 6am/pm (roughly) every day freaks me out a bit. I do enjoy the wonkiness of our path around the sun nearer the poles, and the ebb and flow of the light throughout the year. This watch face helps me to appreciate it more and be mindful about how I am spending my time.