Why did Albus Dumbledore have planets on his watch? Also, which ones were they?

I have been trying to grasp the reason for having planets as your time markings, but couldn't settle on anything. He used his golden pocket watch many times in the books, all for varied and exclusive reasons that didn't relate with each other.

  • 1
    There were twelve known planets in the solar system between 1846 and 1851. I assume Dumboedore’s astronomy is a bit behind the times.
    – Mike Scott
    Commented Sep 9, 2020 at 17:14
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    @Trusha_Patel - A planet is defined as, among other things, being large enoguh that its gravity pulls itself into a spheroidal shape, and thus at least a few hunded kilometers in diameter. So Dumbledore must have been a very powerfull wizard indeed to trasnport 12 planets from outer space and shrink them into his watch, leaving only 8 left in the solar system. Or did you mean that Dumbledore had images of planets in his watch? Commented Sep 9, 2020 at 17:21
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    Note that the watch had 12 hands; I don't believe the number of planets was ever stated. Perhaps the hands mark fixed increments of time and there are a set of planets that orbit once a minute, once an hour, and once per 12 hours.
    – DavidW
    Commented Sep 9, 2020 at 17:51
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    Note that there are at least 2 ways this could work; either with the planets showing time against the fixed hands, or with the hands indicating the divisions of the zodiac and the planets displaying as an orrery. (Being able to quickly read off conjunctions could be useful for a wizard.)
    – DavidW
    Commented Sep 9, 2020 at 17:57
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    @M.A.Golding Going for some kind of pedantry record?
    – Misha R
    Commented Sep 13, 2020 at 23:14

1 Answer 1


There is no canon answer.

It seems reasonable to speculate that JK had intended simply to convey at that early juncture at one or both of two things:

  • Wizards use very different timepieces than the muggle world does.
  • Wizards have significantly more information displayed on their watches, including stellar states.

It may also be possible that Dumbledore, being Dumbledore, had a unique timepiece that he himself used with distinction from everyone else.

The way that wizards keep time versus muggles was likely not more than an early idea that did not transform into something more significant, and was simply dropped or forgotten as the story developed in lieu of your standard West European time system. This kept non-essential distractions out of the already increasingly lengthy plot line.

I will make note here that the Western 24-hour (mod 12) timekeeping scheme is not the only common one in the world today: there are around a dozen other systems still in use around the globe.

Ultimately, however, without more information from Rowling herself there is only speculation.

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