Swatch announced the idea of Internet Time on October 23, 1998, and persuaded many big-name companies, including CNN, to display it on their websites, if only for a while. Just as Greenwich Mean Time has no time zones, Internet Time is also set to a meridian, in this case, the longitude line (about 7.16E) that runs through Biel, Switzerland, the home of Swatch. As part of the inauguration of Biel Mean Time, the company painted an actual line over Swatch world headquarters to signify this new meridian.

The smallest unit of Internet Time is called a .beat, which is one thousandth of a day, exactly 86.4 seconds. Internet Time is expressed as the number of .beats since midnight in Biel, preceded by the at sign @. So, @000 would be midnight in Biel, 4PM in Los Angeles (during Daylight Saving Time), and 3PM in Los Angeles without DST.

Swatch shrewdly invited Nicholas Negroponte from the MIT Media Lab to speak at the inauguration of BMT, but Internet Time's popularity gradually waned, despite Negroponte's utopian proclamations. The idea of Internet Time seemed cool at first, unifying the globe and cyberspace, as well as simplifying the scheduling of online chats across time zones, but people seemed to get along just fine the old way, and mostly shrugged off BMT as just another variant of GMT. Swatch still sells watches that will give out the current .beat time, but they'll always allow the wearer to get the regular time as well.