Object Lesson: Swatch beat watch

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So here we are at the end of the millennium and we're clearly all obsessed with the passage of time, because Swatch has come up with a new way of telling it. The Swatch Beat Watch runs on the new global Internet time, which divides our 24-hour days into 1,000 "beats". So each beat lasts one minute and 26.4 seconds. The idea is that you can arrange to talk to someone at the other side of the world by saying: "I'll call you at 500 Swatch beats." Whatever time zone you're in, Internet time is the same all over the world. What Swatch neglects to mention is that you'll still have to do the same calculation for Internet time (let's see, it's 237 beats now, so 500 beats will be in, er... ) as when you allow 11 hours difference when calling Australia. I have a hunch that it won't catch on.

Meanwhile, the watch offers a whole range of functions, including a second time zone for those frequent flyers, and a dedicated count-down to the year 2000. Just in case we forget, perhaps. Furthermore, there's a timer function (ominously indicated by a bomb icon), an alarm and an animated scene. Oh yes, and it lights up as well. Priced at pounds 50, available from Swatch shops, or ring 01703 646 800.