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Editorial - Time for peace?

Editorial Time for peace?

The synchronization of North Korea's time zone with that of South Korea is a good news for politics, but not for watch lovers.

On 22nd September 2017 North Korea’s supreme leader Kim Jong Un called U.S. President Donald Trump a “mentally deranged dotard” in a statement that was as unusual for its directness as it was for its revival of an archaic English insult. The swipe came within days of Trump threatening to “totally destroy” North Korea at his maiden speech to the United Nations, at roughly the same time as he coined the nickname “little rocket man” for the North Korean leader. 

Since then, the rhetoric has taken on a more conciliatory tone. After a secret visit from the head of the C.I.A., Kim Jong Un met his counterpart Moon Jae-In from the south on 27th April, the two crossing briefly back into North Korea and planting a tree using soil from both countries. The two sides also subsequently agreed to stop blaring out their propaganda across the demilitarised zone. The two leaders are now expected to be meeting in the coming weeks, if not days. Would you have bet your slot on the waiting list for a Patek Philippe Nautilus on that six months ago? 

Although the symbolic gestures were hard to ignore, many people highlighted the lack of any substance to the discussions. On 5th May, however, North Korea took a step further by bringing its time zone back into synchronisation with the South, at GMT +9. The move might seem important, were it not for the fact that the time zone had been shifted back 30 minutes only three years ago. Yet it shows how so much power can be concentrated in the hands of just one individual (Kim apparently made the change after seeing two clocks together showing the different times on his visit to Panmunjom). 

Last week I was bemoaning the alarming news that some people are unable to read the time on a classic clock face. It would appear that Kim Jong Un has no problem with this and that he recognises the symbolic importance of time, with both Koreas now synchronised ahead of the milestone summit with the U.S. President. And if he does strike a deal to make North Korea great again, we might even see, many years hence, a promising new market for Swiss watches, and a better supply to collectors of the country’s only vintage watches from the now-defunct Moranbong watch brand. In the shorter term, however, the news is less good for owners of world time watches that can display all 36 time zones, like the Glashütte Original Senator Cosmpolite, since the offset for Pyongyang marked on their world time discs is now out of date.