So… the minute hand shows progression — apparently we think of time in wildly different ways technology connextras

by alsaCEMusic



Yeah. Weird.

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So... the minute hand shows progression — apparently we think of time in wildly different ways

So… the minute hand shows progression — apparently we think of time in wildly different ways

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So… the minute hand shows progression — apparently we think of time in wildly different ways
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41 comments

ncdv47 31/12/2021 - 6:03 Chiều

Analogue dials show rate of change, something that is difficult to visualise on a pure digital readout. It's the same reason why I still prefer analogue speedometers, fuel gauges etc.

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David Paul Morgan 31/12/2021 - 6:03 Chiều

very interesting observations. It's quicker for us to analyse the 2 D shape of the analogue clock and, as you say, see the ratio, whereas "15:42" is more like a measurement in physics. in the natural world, we see the apparent movement of the sun indicating time and the circular clock reflects this.
An anecdote: some years ago, our National Bus company addressed the customer complaint that "they didn't understand the 24h clock".
company republished the timetables as 12h AM/PM clocks and the customers /still/ missed their buses.
The reason being they didn't understand 15:40 was 20 minutes to 4pm !

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IcyMidnight 31/12/2021 - 6:03 Chiều

RE: the hour hand.
I grew up on analogue time so was used to thinking of time more as divisions of a day or hour than a number. I then moved to Canada, still as a kid, and I found that North Americans tend to think of time more as a number than a fraction. To me when I read "3:45" on a digital clock, I read it as "quarter to four". The concept of "forty five minutes after 3 o'clock" isn't really useful to me/doesn't really tell you about the time. I think the trend around the North American world to think of time more as a number and less as a division of some other time is what trips people up. I think that fractional thinking comes from/makes it easier to use the hour hand: when the hour hand is closer to 4, it's still in the third hour, but time is relative to 4 and not 3.

"Three o'clock", "five past three", "ten past three", "quarter past three", "twenty past three", "twenty five past three", "half past three", "twenty five to four", "twenty to four", "quarter to four", "ten to four", "five to four", "four o'clock".

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Randall Wood 31/12/2021 - 6:03 Chiều

I never really thought about it that way, but the core of your argument makes sense. Incidentally, most (if not all) analog clocks on railroad platforms maintained by the Deutsche Bahn have no numbers on them. This may also be true of the London Tube analog clocks. This probably suggests that entire groups can be trained to think of time in absolute numbers or in slices of larger units.

I also find that that "cute/artsy" backwards analog clocks have such an incredible cognitive load (dealing with them angers me), probably because they completely screw with my ability to judge time as progress through the hour.

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Jan Stożek 31/12/2021 - 6:03 Chiều

I guess, what you struggle to explain is that when you have a glance at a clock you see and immediately know to what extent you need to hurry up without doing all the calculations – and without thinking whether it is 3:44 or 3:46 – it's still around the point when you should start concluding. It's a bit like breaking as soon as you see a red traffic light (or stop lights in a preceding car) without thinking "it's a red light, so it means that I will have to stop". And what symbols are printed on the dial – digits, roman numerals, sex positions for every hour – is quite irrelevant, because what matters is position of the hands, not the symbols themselves. Or I quickly look at the clock and think "damn, I wasted too much time in the Internet again" without consciously realizing what time it was.

A funny note: if I want to know what time it is, I usually look at the dial twice. At the first glance I usually look how the hands look like, as always, and then I need a more thorough look to actually read and process the digits.

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HaydenX 31/12/2021 - 6:03 Chiều

I used to do this, but in order to better visualize what minutes were as numbers for the passage of time (because analog clocks were disappearing), I actually did two things: 1. I equated all time to music and break things down the way BPM and notes do (this gave me an uncanny ability to be within 60 seconds of guessing the time without having seen it for an hour or more, and I'm not talking about rounding to the nearest 5 here…I'll say "It should be about 1:43" and it literally will be within 1 minute of that number); 2. I switched to a 24-hour clock. Analog 24-hour clocks are actually a bit of a pain in the ass simply because they shrink everything down. There is no guessing for "19:26", and equating it musically allows me to internalize it (life moves at 60 BPM, barring space-time distortion and relativistic dilation with various frames of reference).

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Officer_Baitlyn 31/12/2021 - 6:03 Chiều

okay boomer

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Ivan Peterson 31/12/2021 - 6:03 Chiều

As someone who never even learned to read an analog clock growing up I can see your point but I absolutely can not see it that way. I'm all digital mentally, I cannot look at an analog clock and intuit the passage of time, I have to mentally translate into actual numbers and then work it back out.

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Toni Schweiger 31/12/2021 - 6:03 Chiều

I've recently seen the poll on twitter but didn't think much about it at the time. Now that I'm watching the video, I totally understand what you're talking about and I agree with your points.

Concerning the readability of analog vs. digital clocks, I feel the same way. When I read a digital clock, I know the time as a number, but in order to know how late it is, I imagine the corresponding positions of the hands of an analog clock. On an analog clock, a brief glance is enough for me to know how late it is. I don't need to "read" the time. But if someone were to ask me for the time right after that, I couldn't tell them without looking on the clock again and "reading" it. I can't put that "knowledge" of how late it is into words without "reading" the hands' positions on the clock and translating them into the corresponding numbers again.

Concerning the hour hand and its readability (past the full hour): Maybe this has something to do with how we tell the time in my part of Germany (this might vary from region to region), but this has never been a problem for me.
We basically "switch" the hour half-way through the actual hour when telling someone the time. For example, 3:15 would be "Viertel nach drei" (quarter past three), which makes sense, because that's just the time it is. Then however, 3:30 becomes "halb vier" (half [to] four), since from now on, the hour hand is closer to the four than to the three. 3:45 would then be "Viertel vor vier" or "dreiviertel vier" (quarter to four / three quarters [of] four). So wherever the hour hand is closest to is the hour that's used when telling the time, making it way easier in my opinion.
Sometimes, we even use the half-way point as an additional reference point, so 3:20 might either be "Zwanzig nach drei" or "zehn vor halb vier" (twenty past three / ten to half [to] four) and similarly with 3:40.
I find this really intuitive. And now that I'm thinking about it, I am lacking an analog clock as well since I've moved out.

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Janne Peltonen 31/12/2021 - 6:03 Chiều

As a UX designer I often deal with data visualization and an analog clock is a great example of displaying digital information graphically in a way that is easier for the System 1 to process in an instant. Also when you see someone check their watch and then ask them what the time was and they check the watch again… you can tell it's an analog watch. They weren't interested in what exact point in time it is, they were interested if it's some specific point in time soon, say, five p.m. when they're supposed to be home for dinner. They'll be able to tell if they have plenty of time left without deciphering the actual time and that's why they won't be able to respond to you without taking another look at their watch.

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laremere 31/12/2021 - 6:03 Chiều

This reminds me of having conversations about temperature between people who were raised using Fahrenheit, and those using Celsius. We all have an intuitive sense of temperature's relation to the scale we're most familiar with. One number might be hot, one nice, one chilly, and another cold. Really, the intuition is the important bit, and the number is simply how we convey that intuition between people without exposing them to the actual temperature. Therefore when hearing a number on the unfamiliar scale, the best way to reach that intuition is to convert to the familiar scale. The numbers for the other scale contain just as much information, but the path to understanding is longer.

Similarly, it seems your native unit for having an intuition of time is angles on a clock, and not the number of minutes. 90 degrees movement on the minute hand and 15 minutes both convey the same information. Yet just like Fahrenheit versus Celsius, any given person is going to have one of those be better able to translate that into their internal intuition of time. So if you need rely on your internal sense of time to interrupt your current task, a clock that shows you have 60 degrees of minute hand rotation will be better than one that says 10 minutes will be better than one that says 14 millidays. It's less about it being a progress bar – others who have only used digital clocks won't have the same "native time intuition" that you do.

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der0hund 31/12/2021 - 6:03 Chiều

Hi! Digital clocks – well, when i read a digital clock, mostly i envision an analog clock. That's really weird, but now i recognize, that it is that way. Greetings from Vienna – and a magnificent new year!

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Poppy's Jeff Day 31/12/2021 - 6:03 Chiều

I feel like Alec was looking at 4:20 on the clock for too long one day and this became profound enough to make a video. But, he's right.

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TheDeathofMe. 31/12/2021 - 6:03 Chiều

I rarely use Analog clocks, but I can read them. Either way, the numbers are generated in my head and interpreted as a rough position in the day. I use the entire clock reading as a progress bar as you put it.

I feel, based on your description, that an analog clock to use would be just as useful without the numbers, a minimalist clock. It seems to me like your not seeing the numbers, but just the positions as your time reference. Because you don't immediately think of time as a set of numbers, you think of it as hand positions, you have to interpret it from hand positions to a set of numbers which is where the disconnect is.

It's like if i could read wingdings, grew up with them, and then tried to use times roman. I'd know the sounds and the order, but I have to interpret it to make it make sense to other people, and the given format (Non-wingding text) is less intuitive to me, but equally valid.

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I'm Me 31/12/2021 - 6:03 Chiều

I get where you are coming from. I tend to do the same thing, but more so with the hour hand. On the other hand, not the hand of the clock, when I was at work and needed to record the precise time of events, (when a problem was reported to me, when I arrived at the source of the problem, when I left that location) I preferred a digital watch. With a digital watch I did not have to convert the hand position into numbers to write down, and I did not have to parse what number to write down if the hand was between marks.

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greenaum 31/12/2021 - 6:03 Chiều

Alec, have they legalised weed where you live? When the clock-reading skill was "baked into your head", did something else get baked out of your head to compensate? Just askin'.

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D J Owen 31/12/2021 - 6:03 Chiều

Yup, the analogue clock acts more like a glyph or visual representation for me. It's strange, I never really thought about it before, I just assumed it was the same for everyone. Colour me amazed.

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zatramander 31/12/2021 - 6:03 Chiều

One practical use where an analog clock feels a lot more convenient than a digital one is calculating time differences between time zones, especially ones that are far apart.

E.g. I have to regularly calculate times between time zones that are 7 hours apart. With an analog clock it's super easy, since it's always the same fixed distance on the clock face; I only need a quick glance. Whereas with digital it sort of is "just numbers" and gets especially complicated whenever the two times are on different sides of 12 o'clock. When I only have a digital clock around, I often imagine an analog clock face mentally anyway.

By the way, I hate that Windows 10 only has a digital clock on the little pop-up thing you get by clicking on the taskbar clock. It used to be an analog clock, but now that isn't even an option.

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greenaum 31/12/2021 - 6:03 Chiều

The days are escaping you because it's winter and there's no sunlight. And more than that… you're getting old, mate! The years just ZOOM by. There were weeks of my childhood that seemed longer than years of my adulthood! Maybe I should do more stuff, but I don't want to. Maybe it's because kids learn so much more.

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Daniel Fransiscus 31/12/2021 - 6:03 Chiều

I think this would make a great main channel video! A discussion on how sayings like "quarter of" or "half an hour" might mean more than just saying the value of the time left might help explain things? Not evaluating the numerical value, but more absorbing the geometry of the clock and how it's changed/changing/going to change.

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Sardi Pax 31/12/2021 - 6:03 Chiều

I've never liked analogue clocks, and when I was growing up, there almost weren't any digital ones. I can read them but I have to look carefully and work it out. As for analogue clocks without the numerals, yuck. I was very happy to get my first digital watch (although I didn't get one of the first Sinclair Digital ones with LED displays, despite very much wanting one). Looking at an analogue clock for the time is almost like a brief headache for me. I understand what you meant about seeing the analogue dial as a progress bar but for me, I get the same from seeing the digits on a digital display, I don't need to spend any time processing it. I also prefer digital as a 24hr display, it becomes less easy as a 12hr format (which analogue clock displays are of course).

As for time flying, I'm quite a bit older than you and can assure you the phenomenon of time 'getting away from you' is part of how our perceptions change as we age. When you are 10, an hour seems a lifetime. Thirty years later and an hour is rarely enough time to get anything done (it seems).

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Ben Smith-Mannschott 31/12/2021 - 6:03 Chiều

I have a strong preference for digital time display. In my head I automatically convert the minute portion to a fraction no more precise than n/6. I find it hard to judge the angle of the hour hand on an analog clock on account of the hand being generally short and wide, so I often make off-by-one (hour) errors when glancing at the clock face. Honestly, I think I'd be very happy with an analog clock if it had only an hour hand but this spanned the full radius and the arc between the hours was divided into 3 to 6 segments. I don't need minute-level precision from an analog clock. The conventional design doesn't give me the progress-bar feeling. It's digital (and a little effortless mental arithmetic) for me.

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Brooks Rownd 31/12/2021 - 6:03 Chiều

I grew up with analog clocks everywhere, so when I see a digital time my mind always forms an image of an analog clock face showing that time. I also look at numerical dates and put them on a calendar track in my mental image. And digital speedometers are just forbidden!

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MrRobobear 31/12/2021 - 6:03 Chiều

Analog watches are also preferred by many pilots because digital watches just don't give you as good of a feel for the passage of time when it comes down to individual seconds. The second hand makes it far easier to predict how much time you actually have left because you watch it steadily move towards its destination.

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adcs88 31/12/2021 - 6:03 Chiều

Get what you’re saying but here in digital Europe it’s not 3:45, it’s15:45 which is a progress bar for the day (which to me is more relevant), without the ambiguity of the location of the hour hand etc. It’s the 60 minutes in the hour that’s your problem. If there were 100 minutes in an hour, 45 minutes would mean 45% of the hour would have elapsed, which is easier to parse than visually segmenting an arc.

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greenaum 31/12/2021 - 6:03 Chiều

I've been able to read analogue clocks since we learned at school age about 7. But it takes me a while to work it out in my head. Since digital clocks have now been invented, why not just use them? It's obvious what they say. You know that psychological trick thing, where you read the word "blue" but the letters are actually red? And you have to say the colour "red", not the word "blue"? It's really tricky to do because reading, once you learn, is like a reflex, words appear in your awareness as soon as you see them. That's not the same as angles and pointy hands.

Analogue clocks are an evolution of sundials and thank the gods they're obsolete now, so let's not buy them so they won't make any more and the world will be rid of such a useless compromise. You have a supercomputer in your pocket. People have more computing power in their watches than existed in the entire world in, I dunno, 1975. Stupid metaphorical time-sticks had their day and can now go forward to well-earned oblivion.

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P Jones 31/12/2021 - 6:03 Chiều

I've loved clocks since I was a baby (apparently) and I have probably a dozen of them in my small living space (although that's also because pretty much everything with a display has a clock on it now). Analog, digital, smart displays, and my pride and joy, a late '60s Panasonic flip clock that keeps almost perfect time. I definitely get this line of thought – digital clocks are useful as a "fact" and as a countdown (for me, generally a countdown to the next meeting, especially because there's always one in my peripheral vision) but in terms of a quick glance, analog still has a more primal element somehow. For the digital stuff I have everything possible as 24 hour. For some reason I don't care for representations of analog clocks on screens though.

The Google Home hub has an interesting hybrid face – it's a digital clock where the numbers slide up to the top of the screen as the unit elapses (i.e. the current minute slides fastest). Quite elegant and does incorporate a bit of "progress bar" element.

FWIW, I much prefer analog gauges in a car. But that might just be because I like old cars.

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Peter R. 31/12/2021 - 6:03 Chiều

It's like how when I go outside, I can just feel the temperature. Like…exactly…..every time. 74 feels "74-ish" 90 feels "90-ish." Each temperature has its own particular feel to me. That's pretty weird, too.

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Akku Ankka 31/12/2021 - 6:03 Chiều

Counting the time to the next hour is, in at least Southern Germany, how time works. If you wanted to say 4:45, you would go "dreiviertel fünf", three-quarters five, as in, the fifth hour of the day (rather half-day) is ¾ done.

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oojagapivy 31/12/2021 - 6:03 Chiều

You took an awful long TIME to make your point, if you feel you did. I also took an almost equally long time, maybe a FRACTION of the time, to realise this wasn't your main channel. I didn't know you had a SECOND channel. I'm thinking, any MINUTE now, he'll complete his thought.
You see the whole, and parts of the whole, and the minute hand represents which part you're focus is on, whether it's a fraction past the start of the hour or a fraction to the next hour.
Picture a sundial. We put the numbers on there, but if you just stick a stick in the ground, it will show you an indication till noon and an indication past noon.

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Peter R. 31/12/2021 - 6:03 Chiều

The hour hand represents the sun. Sunrise and sunset are roughly at the bottom of the clock. Solar noon is near the top of the clock.
What you're describing, is like how I felt when switching from imperial to metric. I knew what a cup was, because it was literally a cup. When I tried starting to think of it as 240 mL, it make no intuitive sense to me. I knew what a pound was, because I could pick up a 16 ounce bottle of water and that was a pound. 454 grams? 100 grams? 1000 grams? What even is that!?! 10 years later, I now think in metric with intuition.

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Kate O'R 31/12/2021 - 6:03 Chiều

the minute hand as a progress bar blew my mind. to me analogue clocks make perfect sense. I see :45 and i know exactly how far we are into an hour and how long until the next hour without even thinking, but i look at an analogue clock and i spend ten seconds thinking 'okay the minute hand is on 9, and that means 45 minutes, so it's :45'. i've been trying to force myself to get used to analogue clocks, but this may have fixed the problem for me.

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servvo1 31/12/2021 - 6:03 Chiều

this video has completely opened my eyes. i know that this is how i process so much thought, yet I've always used digital clocks. I've just now changed my watch face to something analog, because I've got a feeling familiarity is the main thing keeping me on team digital. I'd definitely love to see a more structured and researched main channel video on this, if for no other reason than that more people will wtart thinking more consciously about how they think

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TheHaelian 31/12/2021 - 6:03 Chiều

I have never thought about this, but you're right 🤯
My brain functions the same.

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greenaum 31/12/2021 - 6:03 Chiều

So what's the master plan for the hair, Alec? It grows nice and thick, so you could grow it to any length you like. Had long hair before?

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Angus Pearson 31/12/2021 - 6:03 Chiều

For the “it displays time with how it looks” the best way to explain it (to me) is to say a minimal clock with no numbers or notches is just as easy to read as a clock that does have those, as you’re actually reading the angles of the hands relative to vertical, and not what number they point to

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Francis Bickerstaff 31/12/2021 - 6:03 Chiều

I agree I can look at an analog click and no if I have enough time without really processing it quit often my wife will ask what time is it I will say I dont know and get told but you just checked a clock or watch. Intriguing point I had never considered.

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Christian Baune 31/12/2021 - 6:03 Chiều

11:17 It's already studied. That's why you will find gauges for metrics, because they are much quicker to parse and can bee seen from further away. It's also why cars still show some kind of progress bar (or gauge) for speed like you say at 14:23.

16:37 The hour hand points also at the same ratio between two consecutive ticks than the minute hand around the whole clock. So, with the hour hand alone, you can tell the time (less accurately).
When you've internalized those two facts, it's impossible to mess the hour hand as the worse case would be that the hour hand is right between two hours, but then it's obvious that you are still in the previous hour. And if the hour hand is very close to the next hour, then the minute hand too, which quickly tell you that the hour didn't lapse yet.
So, such confusion only arise when reading clock hands in isolation. Clocks have to be read as whole.

I also don't "decipher" the clock, unless I am specifically asked what time it is. I also use it to compute time visually like circular sliding rulers. It's much easier to evaluate the span between current and target hand position than doing the time subtraction ^^

The funny thing is that I have a digital clock on my always on display and I unlock the phone to see the big analog clock ^^

And to be fair, I do the same with the calendar…

Now the scientific part. Arithmetic and symbol manipulation are from System 2, which takes a fair dime on the brain. It's what digital clock requires.
Vision processing is system 1 which is overseen by system 3 (which decides if more involved processing is required by system 2).
So, the brain sees a clock (system 1) and can use automatism he already got like comparing the size of two things (very vital for our survival, so it became very inexpensive as the brain has dedicated pathways). When someone ask "What time is it ?", then system 3 will wake up system 2 to do a more precise processing of the clock and convert it in its digital representation.
It's why you'll get a rough time, then think a bit to give a more precise time.
So, as a neurological point of view, digital clocks are costlier anyway.

And no, people can't read digital clocks, they can read them out; But they usually don't have a sense of the meaning.

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Stephen Philp 31/12/2021 - 6:03 Chiều

Analogue displays convey far more information than digital ever can.

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Tilde 31/12/2021 - 6:03 Chiều

This same concept applies to music. When you play an instrument your brain translates the notes on a score to the motor movements necessary to play the note. There is no parsing of what the actual note is, then how to play that note on the instrument. You are reading different music from one instrument to another even if the notes on the page are the same.

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ThatCrazyWuff 31/12/2021 - 6:03 Chiều

also the hour hand isn't an issue for me because it just a "progress bar" from one hour to the next. In fact you can tell the time just with the hour hand alone. I mean it might not be precise. But the minute hand as the some "problem" as the hour hand if you compare it to the second hand.

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