I’ve started reading Revolution in Time by David Landes, a history of clocks and time. It’s delightful.
Landes notes that in the mid-eighteenth century, a clerk to the Chinese Emperor acknowledged that Western clocks were “finer than the old methods used in China.” But, the clerk adds, Western clocks need to be maintained and repaired. “Therefore among the court officials there are some who possess these things, but they still forget meetings.” The clerk concludes, “…those in the court who never miss meetings are the ones who do not own clocks.” (pp. 50-1.)
(I’m truly sorry to say that David Landes died a few days ago.)