Apple’s VP of Technology, Kevin Lynch, assures Apple Watch users that when the ball begins to drop on New Year’s Eve they’ll have the most accurate watch in the ballroom. Lynch says the device’s time is always within 50 milliseconds of the global time standard.
“With New Year’s coming, those who have the Apple Watch will be the most accurate watch in the room…. There will be no question about when New Year’s Eve actually is now,” said Lynch, who is widely regarded as one of the chief architects of Apple’s $1 billion-dollar-selling Apple Watch.
Lynch explained that the Apple Watch is so extraordinarily accurate, that any two Apple Watches placed side-by-side will display the second hands moving in perfect unison. (Or Mickey’s foot tapping, if that’s how you roll.)
The precision is achieved via 15 Network Time Protocol (NTP) servers that Apple has around the world, which include GPS antennas that connect to GPS satellites broadcasting super-accurate time data from the atomic clock at the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C.
Apple’s iPhone connects to the company’s time servers, and the phone then syncs the Apple Watch with itself via Bluetooth. Since there is a delay communicating the information from the iPhone to the Watch via Bluetooth, Apple corrects for that via software. The Apple NTP servers ensure that all iPhones and Apple Watches keep time at “Stratum One” accuracy, which is within milliseconds of “Stratum Zero” devices.
Lynch also noted that the hardware inside the Apple Watch ensures the time remains accurate. Each Watch contains a temperature-controlled crystal oscillator to make sure the usual time drift seen in clocks and watches don’t affect the Apple Watch. The oscillator also ensures very cold temperatures don’t affect the accuracy of the wearable.
So, when the strike of midnight nears on New Year’s Eve, Apple Watch owners will know exactly when the new year actually begins.