Plutarch's Paradox

Posted on May 05, 2013 by Richard Hoptroff

12th April 2013, Clink Street, London

We'll soon be launching my first range of timekeeping devices on the world, and people are starting to ask to see my first watch, and perhaps suggesting that if I'm a good boy, maybe they one day it end up in a museum.

Unfortunately we bump up against Plutarch's paradox.  In his Life of Theseus, he asks if a ship rebuilt so many times that no original part remains, is still the same ship?  The same is true of my watchmaking bench.  That lovely George movement with its 14 hands that I once made is now only a shell on the bookshelf - most of the parts I used to make it have since been reused as I have advanced, step by step.  If I rebuilt the George, would it still be the first?

The same is true of finished watches.  Every time I walk out of the workshop with a timepiece on my wrist, it is 90% the same as the day before.  But something has changed.  Maybe a different dial, or case, different firmware definition, or finish such as plating or polish.  The design process involves trying out lots of ideas and throwing the many bad ones away.  It's hard to set aside museum pieces when you're in that tornado.

 

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