Friday, January 11, 2019

Brother Sebastian's Hourglass: The Most Advanced Timekeeping Piece You Can Buy

Temperance bearing an hourglass, 1338

What if medieval hourglass reviews were written like contemporary watch reviews? 

Thanks to the generosity of Brother Sebastian of Chancy Monastery, we are fortunate to have our hands on his new, manual turn hourglass.

Who is Brother Sebastian? He’s England’s premier hourglass maker and quite a spiritual guy. Brother Sebastian knows the answers to all the world’s questions, past, present and future.

Who are we? We are the barber-surgeon-minister-lawyer-inn keeper team of Wallace and Timothy, tending to London's finest since 1345. I'm Timothy. We're just a five minute stroll from Windy Dock on the Thames. If you want to visit us after noon, walk east with the sun toward your back. When you see the chicken pen turn left. Continue until you pass the guy who's shouting to the sky about The End (he's always there, day and night), then go another block past Thom's Barber (but don't stop for treatment; they're so backwards they don't even use leeches!). Finally, saunter another minute continuing with the sun on your left until you reach us.

As for Brother Sebastian’s technology: I'm impressed. There have been definite improvements in glass manufacturing since 1377 when we last acquired one of Brother Sebastian’s timepieces: The unreflective clarity of the hourglass surpasses eyeglass transparency. Looking at the hourglass as you circle 360 degrees, it's as if the glass isn't even there. Unlike other, inferior hourglasses, you don’t need to hold a candle to this one to read the time.

This hourglass measures nearly two hands tall and three nails wide at the top and bottom, which I consider to be a perfect size for an hourglass. Its large size lets you see the time remaining from two fathoms away. As Brother Sebastian wrote, “this is an hourglass of panerai proportions.”

The colorful reflection from the Brother Sebastian Hourglass's bronze encasement warmed my soul. While a wooden frame can be carved with all sorts of free flying angels, bronze is more enduring and plays better with light. Thanks to the considerable hay in which the hourglass was packed before it was transported to us, the frame itself was smooth to the touch and unscratched. Undoubtedly over the years the hourglass will develop a delightful patina.

I like the bulbous, utilitarian shape of Brother Sebastian's hourglass more than the more svelte, fashion timepieces exported by the French. I also like how Brother Sebastian borrowed from the Greek urn style, loutrophoros, popular not too many centuries ago, without overdoing that design style.

The hourglass has a heft to it, which makes it suitable for use around cats who like nothing better than to knock important objects over. The hourglass looks shock resistant enough to survive a fall of up to a cubit, especially if it's on to something soft like manure, thanks in large measure to the three-pillar encasement, a step up from the older two-pillar frames. This isn't an hourglass you'd carry with you everywhere, but it's suitable for home use to calculate birthing or cooking, on ships for helping figure longitude, or for surgical purposes such as timing blood letting.

The hourglass works at all temperatures, and is more practical than a water clock because it will not freeze in winter. It's completely sealed so you can use it indoors and out.

Brother Sebastian's accompanying letter bragged about the imported Egyptian sand he filled the hourglass with. The grains, white as clouds, appear especially uniform, yielding a consistent flow through the hourglass’ waist. Egyptian sand adds to the hourglass’ cost, but is worth every shilling.

I ran the hourglass several times at night on a perfectly horizontal table, testing the time against cricket chirps. Brother Sebastian's hourglass accurately measured thirty minutes during each of our seven tests, never varying by more than five seconds. In short, the hourglass' accuracy exceeded COSC, Christ Observer Standards Committee, which specifies an accuracy of plus or minus ten seconds every half hour.

Unlike less technically advanced water clocks, the hourglass will remain accurate at an inclination of up to 10 degrees, according to Brother Sebastian's note. The Brother Sebastian Hourglass is said to be able withstand the strongest witches’ spells, too, so if your enemy tries to mess with your timekeeping, their attempts will be thwarted.

I recommend Brother Sebastian's hourglass. It's state of the art, uses the the most advanced materials, has a shine and polish you see on few hourglasses, is resistant to curses and incantations, and will give you and your descendants unparalleled accuracy and reliability for centuries to come. The hourglass will be available starting next January as a limited edition of fifty copies, as soon as Brother Sebastian trains his fellow monks in the high art of hourglass making.

Brother Sebastian's hourglass will look great in the thatched hut, castle, or stable.

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