Collecting time

Collecting time

When my son was born just over a year ago, I got an Apple Watch from my brother as a gift. It was quite ironic to get a timekeeping device with a first child — many told me that I wouldn't have much of it for a while.


Soon after I got the watch, I started to notice something strange happening: often when I checked the time, the hours and minutes would be the same numbers, i.e. 09:09 or 17:17. At first, I didn’t make much of it, but over time, I started to notice that I would see these hours and minutes more and more.

Intrigued by this coincidence, I decided to turn it into a game with a mission to collect all 24 hours by taking screenshots of each hour.

There was only 1 rule: I’m not allowed to wait for it to be the same double numbers. For example, if I check the time and it was 08:07, I'm not allowed to wait until 08:08 to take a screenshot.

And so the game began!

I’m happy to say that I’ve collected all hours within 6 months.

The problem though is that I can’t unsee these double numbers anymore; I now see them multiple times a day, almost every day.

I’m not exactly sure what the reason for this strange phenomenon is but, after doing some research, I found a couple of possibilities:

Angels & demons

Some call these double numbers, mirror hours. They believe that your guardian angel wants to warn you about something, a person is thinking of you or an evil spirit has made contact with you.

I’m not very convinced by this reasoning.

Psychology & Biology

It could also be slightly related to the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon. This occurs when your brain starts to selectively see things because it’s excited about something new you learn.

(A good example of this phenomenon in action is when you are super interested in buying a new car and all of a sudden you notice that everyone is driving the exact same car you're interested in.)

The problem with this theory, though is that it doesn't seem to explain why I would lift my arm exactly when the time is a double number. I could lift my arm at any other time, but why 11:11 or 19:19?

I have a hypotheses, one that I don’t have any scientific backing for:
Could it be that my brain and body is synced up with time, giving me a small nudge to lift my arm right when the time is a double number? And could it be that because of this, together with the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon, I see double numbers all the time now?

Maybe. Maybe not. Either way, I’ll end off with some tips on how to collect time:

  • Make sure you get a watch that can give you both hours and minutes. Most watches have them these days.
  • If you have a watch that gives you seconds as well, I would like to wish you good luck collecting all triple numbers (11:11:11)…
  • If you’re not an evening or early morning person and is worried that you’ll never get those crazy hours, I would highly recommend getting a baby. It worked like a dream for me.

I want to dedicate this post to my brother; the one I mentioned in the opening paragraph. Nico committed suicide on 15 Dec 2019, shortly after I finished the first draft of this post. There was no time to say goodbye.

Time is short and life unpredictable — collect the moments.

Steyn & Nico at their last run together
Our last run together

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