Horology is a perplexing fascination. Is it the endless ticking? The constant unending of time?
No-one can be sure - but what is certain is that buying Christmas gifts for those of a timekeeping disposition can be a truly complex exercise.
Save precious seconds by perusing our list of top tick-tocking gifts, sure to harbour something appealing for your watch-toting chum. And, all being well, they should stand the test of time.
Philips Somneo Sleep and Wake-Up Light (£189)
Don’t let the long, dark winter nights get you down: stick this wake-up light by the side of your bed and it'll feel like the Sun is rising just for you.
Rather than jolting you awake like the icy rods of a cold shower, the Somneo gradually increases light levels to wake you naturally, leaving you refreshed and ready for the day ahead.
Leatherman Watch (£420)
When your day job involves working up a sweat with all sorts of hefty tools, the last thing you need when it's time for a tea break is a ticker that reminds you of work.
Makes sense, then, that Leatherman (makers of all things sturdy) would go simple and stylish with its first wristwatch. You won't find any pop-out screwdrivers hidden in the strap - just a corrosion-resistant stainless steel construction and a sapphire crystal face.
Casio Classic Collection Cloth (£22)
You'll be hard pressed to find a wrist accessory more retro than this iconic Casio timepiece, short of strapping a Walkman to your forearm - and that can't even tell the time.
This classic piece is water-resistant to 50m, has a chronograph and will earn you countless cool points on Shoreditch High Street.
Grovemade Watch 02 (US$149)
Sundial on the blink? Stick a slice of the outdoors on your wrist with this majestic wooden ticker from Grovemade.
Wittled by wizened woodworkers in a copse somewhere near Portland, Oregon, the Watch 02 is a piece of pure craftsmanship, with a stainless steel case enclosing a fine facade of machine-detailed walnut or maple. Alternatively, you could try making your own out of plywood, if you prefer counting splinters over seconds.
Swatch Sistem51 (£108)
Your dad's Rolex might get him noticed at the golf club, but proper, self-winding Swiss watches are the real bastions of functional style.
Home to a fiendishly brilliant movement of 51 parts (all held together by a single screw), the Sistem51 is a mechanical triumph that, unlike other proper, self-winding Swiss watches, is both colourful and doesn't cost the Earth.
Lexon Flip clock (£25)
Scientists believe that we were, at some point in our evolutionary history, menaced by carnivorous tortoises. As a result, many people feel an instinctive urge to turn something over immediately after waking.
The Flip Clock is made for such people: you turn the alarm off by flipping it over, but the display rights itself so you don’t think it’s one minute past midnight when it’s actually 10 o’clock. It even has helpful 'on' and 'off' surfaces.