By Jason Heaton
on 9.14.12
Photo by JH

Without the use of a wristwatch, simple medical procedures that we take for granted like taking a pulse or temperature or administering medication become far more difficult and less accurate. So when Gustavo Sainz, a Los Angeles-based screenwriter and self-proclaimed, “Time Captain,” learned that many healthcare workers in developing countries lacked even this basic piece of equipment, he created the Human Time Project, a watch brand that aims to make a small but significant difference in the world.

Read more after the break.

Human Time Project’s concept is simple: for every watch the company sells, it sends a duplicate to a needy health clinic in another country. Think of it as the TOMS Shoes of timepieces. Recently, HTP successfully sent its first shipment of watches to doctors and nurses at a clinic in Guatemala. To ensure that everything is above board and the watches get where they need to go, HTP has an ethics and accountability consultant and is partnering with HELPS International, a non-profit organization that facilitates aid projects in Central America.

So what are the watches like? To date, HTP sells two watches — the HTP-1 ($98+) and the HTP-M ($95+). Both are simple, time-only pieces with easy-to-read dials and rugged Japanese quartz movements, perfectly suited for their primary purpose as legible, reliable timekeepers. The HTP-1 has a 46-millimeter black ionic-plated case with wide, 24mm lugs. Its most striking characteristic is a “canteen” style hinged crown guard that screws down over the crown. This feature is of debatable use to doctors (it adds 4mm to the already massive diameter of the watch), but it’s a trendy style concession that looks great on the wrist; if a good look means one more watch gets donated, we’ve got no qualms.

The more sensibly sized 39mm HTP-M shares the same features as its bigger sibling, minus the crown guard. Both watches come on four-ring nylon military-style straps in a variety of colors. Straps can be ordered separately — though those ones won’t come with a conscience-soothing twin going to a strap-happy doctor in Guatemala.

At a mere $95, Human Time Project watches are not haute horlogerie by any means — and you can’t put a price on helping others. They’re perfect “beater” watches for those times when you want something rugged and replaceable, like yard work, sports, or the odd volunteer trip to a rural health clinic in Central America.

Buy now: $95+