Could it be that the time dilation of atomic clocks is caused by the mechanical change that velocity causes in the "orbits" of subatomic particles?
Using a Bohr analogy, then for a stationary atom the electron traces a true and perfect circle with each orbit.
For an atom traveling at a velocity the electron must travel, not a circular path but, a cycloidal shape more akin to this trochoid (when viewed from a stationary perspective).
In order for the atom to maintain this velocity then the electron, the internal proton workings and the internal neutron workings must continue to trace these distorted paths - for if they did not then no velocity would be evident for the atom.
A perfect "tick" of a light-reflection clock occurs when the light completes a round-trip path - a circlular orbit is a perfect clocking path because every point of the orbit is matched diametrically opposite in position by another point that has an opposing vector. So the orbit of the electron runs "perfectly" normal with regard to the atom's nucleus but from an outside perspective the workings of the atom have slowed down. This slow down is what is evident when atomic clocks show a time dilation - from one clock to another clock.
Since the slowing of atomic processes has no effect upon the "global" or an "other perspective" clock then an atom easily falls inside a blackhole's event horizon because time does not prevent this event, time is not real. The atom falls inside the event horizon with its internal clock in a stopped state.
If the above is true then it would not require an ether in order to understand why, without relativity, time appears to dilate as measured by clocks or that nothing can go faster than the speed of light - because these effects are built into the very essence of matter.
Time is like love - it is just a concept of the mind.