Following last year’s digital TV transition, the federal government announced a similar move Wednesday for switching all clocks and watches over to digital time.
Consumers of timepieces have until March 18, 2094 to switch to digital in order to still receive time. After that date, old analog devices will cease displaying.
While many clocks and watches will seamlessly make the switch, many others will need replacement in order to work properly after the deadline.
“With less than 84 years before the transition, there’s going to be a scramble to upgrade old watches and clocks that still use minute and hour hands,” said Bernie Kruhd, spokesman for the Federal Clock Commission. “We plan to run ads and crawlers on television networks for the next eight decades to make sure the public is aware of the change.”
Congress originally introduced legislation to require the switch in 1997. But the bill languished in committee because of controversy over amendments to fund condom distributions to Canadians and build a new souvenir shop at the Panama Canal. The transition finally became law in 2007 and the FCC was charged with its implementation.
One reason the switch is being made is to free up the time-space continuum to enable the government to research time travel.
“When time-reading goes digital, we’ll really be able to explore the realm of time travel,” Kruhd noted. “Obviously this will provide tremendous benefits, such as preventing major disasters and being able to pick winning lottery numbers, the money from which can be used for future bailouts of corporations and financial institutions.”
The FCC originally offered consumers a $20 coupon towards the purchase of a new watch or clock. However, with the economic recession draining available resources, consumers must now pay an additional $20 tax on top of the price and sales tax for the devices. The money will be used to help fund the change.
The move comes after the 2009 switch to digital television. But the FCC is hoping that the same problems which plagued that transition – including several famines and a six-month war in Oregon – won’t affect this one.
To ensure the process goes smoothly, the FCC is setting up a hotline and Web site for consumers to learn more. The agency also plans to set up a recycling drive to collect analog timepieces and convert them into military machinery.
“We can take the gears, hands and faces out of old watches and clocks and use them to replace parts of tanks and missiles,” said Department of Defense spokesman Elliot Anderson. “With America’s military in 180 countries worldwide, we can definitely put these devices to productive use.”
Many consumers find the latest digital transition confusing and unnecessary.
“Why is the government spending all this time and money on how we read time?” asked Mary Walters, a customer shopping for a watch at an Akron, Ohio department store.