1830 Barcelona Time-what time do we meet?

my nephew's watch a perfect Barcelona time explanation
my nephew’s watch

Barcelona time described as the 24 hour clock.

What is the meaning of this question?

and why something that we have so assumed, can be a matter of confusion for others? Here comes the problem, when we use different methods of “naming” the time.

One day has 24 hours, isn’t it? then let’s name them.  Therefore after 12 noon -midday- comes 13 and 14 and 15… and we will end the day -midnight- at 24h (or 00.00 hours – both are used without distinction).

This is called the “24 hour clock” which is the Barcelona time we use and is a convention of time keeping in which the day runs from midnight to midnight and it is divided into 24 hours,  indicated by the hours passed since midnight, from 0 to 23. This system is the most commonly used time notation in the world today.

But usually we don’t say “I saw James at 14.15…” most of us will probably say “I saw James at 2.15 in the afternoon”.  Therefore it makes sense to say that the 12 hour time is mostly used in speech for ease of use, and 24 hour time is preferred in writing.

Diagram of the 12 and 24 hour clocks on a timeline

The 24 hour clock has also been called railway time (in Europe, therefore the Barcelona Time), continental time (in England), and military time (in the US).   It is also the international standard notation of time.  In the 12 hour time system, midnight is usually written as 12 AM, and midday (noon) as 12 PM. 

The Latin tags Ante Meridiem (before the middle of the day) and Post Meridiem (after the middle of the day), abbreviated to AM and PM, are required to indicate the difference between, say, 1:30 in the morning (01:30 hours) and 1:30 in the afternoon (13:30 hours). You forget about AM and PM if you use the 24 hour time system.

There is always a tip to make things easier

A quick tip to convert easily the 24 hour time nomenclature into the 12 hour use from 12 (noon) onwards -needless to say only for the PM hours-  is to subtract 2 from the hour, and the last (hour) digit will tell you what the time is.  That way:

The 24 hour tower clock in Venice uses also the Barcelona time format
The 24 hour tower clock in Venice that lists hours 1 to 12 twice

13.00 hours – 2 = 11.00 hours (the last digit is 1 therefore it is 1 PM)

17.30 hours – 2 = 15.30 hours (the last digit is 5 therefore it is 5.30 PM)

22.55 hours – 2 = 20.55 hours (the last digit is 0 therefore it is 10.55 PM)

23.00 hours – 2 = 21.00 hours (the last digit is 1 therefore it is 11.00 PM)

and of course 24.00 hours (or 00.00) is midnight because 24 – 2 = 22 and this means a 12.  NOTE that minutes remain the same…

…and this is how that beautiful drawing at the beginning of this post, in which my nephew with a simple circumference, some strokes and numbers, teaches me something as simple as it is interesting, and provides a unique opportunity to write about time and its uses, and gives me the opportunity to investigate in history of how mankind’s relationship with time has been, from its origins in the Egyptian astronomical system, to our present times and how we have managed to measure it, to organize our lives.

And of course, you can always use the drawing of my nephew’s watch, which is a perfect and simple Barcelona time explanation 😉

Enjoy your Barcelona time!

1830 Barcelona Time-what time do we meet? is a post written by Mercedes Delgado