The Goods

Who Would Buy Nunc’s Fancy Marble Watch That Can’t Tell Time?

Three watches that can't tell time.
Photo illustration by Slate, watch by Nunc.

Who Would Buy This Thing? is a series that spotlights particularly egregious commercial objects and tries to imagine who might indeed pay money to own them.

Another day, another sign that traditional clock faces are going the way of the sun dial.
First, U.K. schools decided to remove analog clocks from testing rooms after discovering students had trouble reading them. And now, the Swedish company Nunc is selling a bracelet featuring a blank circle of Italian marble—in other words, a watch that doesn’t tell time. For the low price of €160 (or around $188), you can own what the company deems “more than a product,” but a “philosophy and a way of life.” That philosophy came to the wider world’s attention after a screenshot of the company responding to a confused Facebook user went viral on Twitter. Nunc freely admits that they struggled with what to call their product: “Should we call it a watch or a timepiece? It clearly doesn’t tell the time.” They then go on to explain that a little Greek philosophy helped them blithely continue on their path.

Ancient Greeks had two words for time: Chronos and Kairos. Chronos is the evil god representing the passing time that we measure and try to escape, from which we get words like chronology. Kairos, on the other hand, represents the positive, qualitative time. The right time, that we live and experience. And don’t measure. All watches so far represent Chronos time. With Nunc, we bring to the world a new type of ‘watch’: the Kairos watch. A reminder that time is now and we should make the most of it.

And with that bit of dubiously sourced mythology, Nunc was born. Every Nunc watch is cast in “the highest grade 316 stainless steel” in four different colors: rose gold, gold, silver, and carbon black. Each watch carries “a prestigious [white] Carrara or [black] Marquina natural marble stone” and comes in wooden packaging that’s “designed to transform into a pot, where you can plant the seed of Moringa, also known as the Tree of Life.” The entire website is filled with the same pseudo-intellectualism of a freshman college student taking their first philosophy class, from the product descriptions to the 4,000-plus-word rambling company origin story to the “wisdom” pages that are quite literally blog posts discussing everything from the Greek personification of time Chronos to the Mandelbrot set. It’s truly impossible to accurately capture the sophomoric faux-profound prose that Nunc employs, so here’s a sample of the company’s founding mythology:

Just as external alchemy is about transmuting base metals into gold, inner alchemy is about transmuting the inner self into its best version. Stones played a key role in alchemy: the philosopher’s stone, the Chintamani. For this reason, the stone takes a central role on our timepieces, blending light and darkness, the black and the white.

At the very least, it’s fair to say Nuncs are attractive pieces of jewelry, although fundamentally useless beyond the purpose of starting conversations. I can only assume that those conversations primarily revolve around acquaintances asking Nunc-wearers for the time and them responding, “Time is a social construct. Live in the now.”

Price: €160 (around $188).

Who would buy this thing? An Instagram influencer with a minor in classics.