Wetenschap - 24 oktober 1996

Time to adjust your watches

Time to adjust your watches

When you go to bed on the last Saturday in October, you should adjust your watch and set the time one hour ahead.

Last Sunday at two in the afternoon a Zimbabwean friend called and asked what time it was. It might seem a rather odd question to ask over the phone, but he explained that he had heard about a Dutch custom whereby the time changes by one hour at this time of the year. He had an appointment at three in the afternoon and he wondered whether the hour had already changed, which would make him late for his date. It is strange, but he was right. You will be able to enjoy an extra hour of sleep on the night of 26 October.

Professor Wieringa of the Department of Meteorology explains that in 1977, several west European countries, with the exception of Britain and Ireland, decided to adopt what is known as summer time. They agreed to move the time to one hour later between April and October. The main reason for this time change is the fact that for civilian society, traffic rush hours and office hours should be during daylight as much as possible. Unlike agriculture, which is based on sun hours, office hours are fixed. Instead of changing office hours, they decided to change the time", explains Wieringa.