Who defined hours, minutes, seconds first


This display shows the time in hours, minutes and seconds. There is always a colon between these three entries.
The clockwork of the Zytglogge in the city of Bern dates back to 1530. It is as big as a person, like many clockworks from that time.

Second, minute, and hour are units of measure in which time is measured. An adult's heartbeat lasts about a second. 60 seconds make up one minute, 60 minutes make up an hour and 24 hours make up a whole day, a year again has 365 or 366 days. The second is the most important unit of time in the international system of units. This means that all other time units are derived from it.

Where do the different time units come from?

The minute as a unit of measurement for time comes from Babylonia, an empire in what is now Iraq. The number 12 had a religious meaning for the Babylonians. Then as now, one often uses the five fingers of one hand to count. The lesson was therefore divided into 5 times 12 parts, i.e. 60 parts. The 60ths were later referred to in Latin as “pars minuta”, which means “reduced part”. Hence the name minute. It is abbreviated with "min": instead of four minutes, write 4 min.

The second also comes from this Babylonian division. It was divided into 60ths a second time. In Latin it was called “pars minuta secunda”, meaning “second diminished part”. That became the second. The second is abbreviated with "s".

An hour is the twenty-fourth part of a day. The division of a whole day into 24 hours comes from the ancient Egyptians. The Latin word for hour is “hora”. That is why the hour is also abbreviated with "h".

How was it before

The Greeks and Romans counted hours in a different way. Twelve hours passed from sunrise to sunset, and another twelve from sunset to sunrise. Because the days are longer in summer and shorter in winter, the length of an hour changed depending on the season and fluctuated between 45 and 75 minutes.

The first clocks were hourglasses. An hourglass was also called an hourglass in the past. But it didn't take exactly an hour for the sand to run through. The processing time always depended on the size and shape of the hourglass. It was not until the Middle Ages that mechanical clockworks were built with which one could finally set an hour precisely. In 1585 a Swiss watchmaker designed the first watch with a second hand. Only then could times be determined precisely to the second.

  • An hourglass was also called an hourglass in the past.

  • The second hand is the longest hand on the watch, here in red.

For “Second” there are also other search results from Blinde Kuh and Ask Finn.

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