Swatch Internet Time (or beat time) is a decimal time concept
introduced in 1998 by the
Swatch corporation as part of their
marketing campaign for their line of "Beat" watches.
Instead of hours and minutes, the mean solar day is divided into 1000
parts called ".beats". Each .beat is equal to one decimal minute in
the French Revolutionary decimal time system and lasts 1 minute and
26.4 seconds (86.4 seconds) in standard time. Times are notated as a
3-digit number out of 1000 after midnight. So, @248 would indicate a
time 248 .beats after midnight representing 248/1000 of a day, just
over 5 hours and 57 minutes.
There are no time zones in
Swatch Internet Time; instead, the new time
scale of Biel Meantime (BMT) is used, based on Swatch's headquarters
in Biel, Switzerland and equivalent to Central European Time, West
Africa Time, and UTC+01. Unlike civil time in Switzerland and many
Swatch Internet Time does not observe daylight saving
1.2 Beatnik satellite controversy
2.2 Time zones
2.4 Time unit conversion
2.5 Calculation from UTC+1
3 See also
5 External links
Swatch Internet Time was announced on October 23, 1998, in a ceremony
at the Junior Summit '98, attended by Nicolas G. Hayek, President and
CEO of the
Swatch Group, G.N. Hayek, President of
Swatch Ltd., and
Nicholas Negroponte, founder and then-director of the MIT Media Lab.
During the Summit,
Swatch Internet Time became the official time
system for Nation1, an online country (supposedly) created and run by
Swatch watch showing .beat time in the bottom part of the display
Swatch produced several models of watch, branded "Swatch
.beat", that displayed
Swatch Internet Time as well as standard time,
and even convinced a few websites (such as CNN.com) to use the new
format. PHP's date() function has a format specifier 'B' which
Swatch Internet Time notation for a given time stamp.
It is also used as a time reference on ICQ, and the online
Phantasy Star Online
Phantasy Star Online has used it since its launch on
Dreamcast in 2000 to try to facilitate cross-continent gaming (as
the game allowed Japanese, American and European players to mingle on
the same servers). In March 2001,
Ericsson released the T20e, a mobile
phone which gave the user the option of displaying Internet Time.
Outside these areas, it is infrequently used. While
offers the concept on its website, it no longer markets beat
watches. In July 2016,
Swatch released Touch Zero
Two, its second wirelessly connected watch, with
Swatch Internet Time
Beatnik satellite controversy
In early 1999,
Swatch began a marketing campaign about the launch of
their Beatnik satellite, intended to service a set of Internet Time
watches. They were criticized for planning to use an amateur radio
frequency for broadcasting a commercial message (an act banned by
Swatch reallocated the transmitter batteries
to a different function on the
Mir space station, thus the satellite
The concept was touted as an alternative, decimal measure of time. One
of the supposed goals was to simplify the way people in different time
zones communicate about time, mostly by eliminating time zones
Instead of hours and minutes, the mean solar day is divided into 1,000
parts called ".beats". Each .beat lasts 1 minute and 26.4 seconds. One
.beat is equal to one decimal minute in French decimal time.
Swatch does not specify units smaller than one .beat, third
party implementations have extended the standard by adding
"centibeats" or "sub-beats", for extended precision: @248.00. Each
"centibeat" is a hundredth of a .beat and is therefore equal to one
decimal second (0.864 seconds).
There are no time zones; instead, the new time scale of Biel Meantime
(BMT) is used, based on the company's headquarters in Biel,
Switzerland. Despite the name, BMT does not refer to mean solar time
at the Biel meridian (7°15′E), but to the standard time there. It
is equivalent to the
Central European Time
Central European Time and
West Africa Time
West Africa Time or
Swatch Internet Time is the same throughout the world. For
example, when the time is 875 .beats, or @875, in New York, it is also
@875 in Tokyo: 0.875 × 24 hours = 21:00 BMT = 20:00 UTC. Unlike civil
time in most European countries, Internet Time does not observe
daylight saving time and thus it matches
Central European Time
Central European Time during
(European) winter and Western European Summer Time, which is observed
by the United Kingdom, Ireland, Portugal and the Canary Islands
(Spain), during summer.
The most distinctive aspect of
Swatch Internet Time is its notation;
as an example, "@248" would indicate a time 248 .beats after midnight,
equivalent to a fractional day of 0.248 CET, or 04:57:07.2 UTC. No
explicit format was provided for dates, although the
formerly displayed the
Gregorian calendar date in the order
day-month-year, separated by periods and prefixed by the letter d
Time unit conversion
Note that units smaller than 1 .beat are not officially recognized by
Calculation from UTC+1
The formula for calculating the current time in .beats from UTC+1 is:
(UTC+1seconds + (UTC+1minutes * 60) + (UTC+1hours * 3600)) / 86.4
Round down the outcome.
French Republican Calendar
ke = 10 'beats'
New Earth Time
Coordinated Universal Time
Coordinated Universal Time (UTC)
^ "TLDR #15 – Internet Time". On The Media. Retrieved 31 March
^ "PHP: date".
PHP Manual. Retrieved 12 January 2014.
^ "Hams jam space spam". BBC News. 1999-04-16. Retrieved
^ "Nucleus Plugin: NP_InternetTime". TeRanEX Wiki.
^ "iBeat". Archived from the original on 2007-10-08.
^ "How do I get the current time in
Swatch Internet Time in Java?".
StackOverflow. Retrieved 28 March 2014.
A short descriptio