If you ever take a German language class, there is some segment in the first month where the instructor finally gets onto time. There is a precise way that you are supposed to answer if asked for the time. There's the official way, and the unofficial way. Mark Twain would have stopped the guy explaining this, and just asked why folks don't just carry a watch with them.
I kinda feel this way....you have to wonder about how many Germans walk around with no watch.
Within the US military of my existence and the fifteen-odd years after that.....I can only remember five or six times ever (over a 40-year period).....that some American stopped me and asked for the correct time. It's just awful rare that some American doesn't have a watch.
On average here in Germany, I'd say that I get stopped an average of five times every single year for the time.....by a German. It might be in the railway station.....in the shopping district....at some pub....on some trail....or on some Rhine River cruise-boat.
The expression will always be the same....."Wie spat ist es?"..
I generally have a quick response to give upon looking at my Timex.....which I learned today....was the wrong method. I'm a military guy, so I always answer 6:15 (in German) or whatever the time is.
All of this would bring me to a Twainism.....are there a lot of Germans without a watch? You'd think with all the absoluteness that exists in Germany.....the precise nature of being here or catching the 4:08 train, or getting to some dentist at 3:30 like you swore you would.....they'd have a watch and know the time.
My son (German in nature) went for almost 25 years without a watch. I tried at different times to give him a decent watch, or even a regular Timex....all throughout his youth, and he turned me down flat each time. Last year, with a real job and needing to make an impression on customers......he finally agreed to let me give him a top of the line watch that would be noticeable when customers walked up. Personally, I doubt that he ever looks at it, but at least he doesn't go around asking other Germans what time it is.
Is this something left over from the Roman period, or just something passed down in German traits? I don't know. I'm waiting for some Syrian or immigrant guy to engage me on this and ask what it is about these Germans asking about what time it is. My answer to the Syrian will be that it's a test by the Germans to see if you are an 'auslander' or German. He'll probably look at me pretty serious for 20 seconds....worried that Germans are constantly testing you, and then I'll reassure him.....Germans just don't care what time it is.....it'll all pass eventually anyway, and just grin as I explain this to the guy.
So, don't get hyped up if some German asks you about the time. In truth, for 99.9-percent of the time....he just doesn't care what time it is.