Sunday, November 10, 2013

Do we still need watches?

I love watches. Rather than mere time pieces, I have always thought of watches as works of art and science.

Back in the day (as in pre-Internet), I used to sport two or three watches at a time on my left wrist and arm. There is even a picture of me at my first job at a quasi-fashion magazine sporting a fresh manicure and at least eight watches (most of which were donated by my colleagues for the sake of taking a photo, a Polaroid, which I cannot find).

 But for the past dozen years or so, I have rarely worn a watch. I haven't needed to.

Why wear a watch when we are surrounded by clocks? If you work in an office, there is a clock on your computer. Travel for work by car or shuttle your kids, there's a clock on your dashboard -- and on your GPS. Not in front of your computer or in your car and want to know what time it is? Just check your smart phone. Cooking in the kitchen? No need for a watch. There are clocks on your oven and on your microwave -- and chances are you have a TV or computing device or radio in your kitchen, which has a built-in clock. Have cable television? Then you know what time it is every time you pass in front of a cable box.

Just think about last Sunday, when you had to set your clocks back an hour (unless you live in Hawaii or Arizona) and you understand how pervasive time is -- and how little need there is for watches, or clocks, anymore. Except maybe as decorative pieces.

Do we still need watches anymore? Are they relics of the past, a bracelet that keeps time? Or maybe watches have evolved into something else, say, a computer you wear on your wrist?

Time will tell.


AlyssaGoodman said...

You are just too plugged in. I still wear analog watches, and I enjoy them very much, thank you. And, I even sometimes "need" them!

J. said...

@Alyssa, I'm surprised. You are one of the most plugged in people I know. I guess if you still wear a watch, there's hope for watch makers. :-)

Anonymous said...

J, doesn't your watch come in handy during one of your many power outages, when most if not all of the clocks that you currently live by were dark due to lack of power? Mine was certainly useful during the aftermath of the derecho, and during DC's Snowmageddon, or any time the wind blows more than 10 mph and the power seems to go out in DC.

J. said...

@Anonymous, good point. Though everyone had/used his/her mobile phone + I have a battery operated travel alarm clock. And we now have a generator. :-) But yes, I probably wore a watch those days. I also wear a watch when traveling on an airplane, though now that you can use electronic devices I wonder if I and others will continue to do so. I still think watches have become more fashion statements than necessities.

Anonymous said...

Respectfully disagree, J. watches are still more portable (no hands required) and more reliable, in that they tend to have an independent self-contained power source. In fact, I would argue that using one’s handheld to tell the time is actually a technical regression – it’s the high tech equivalent of looking at a big, bulky wind-up pocketwatch, and if you forget to wind it, you’re out of luck. To the extent that wrist watches are temporarily disfavored, I think they will come back, especially if the technology keeps heading down the road of that new Samsung smartphone watch thingie.

And then there is the whole metaphysical argument, stated so eloquently by the band Chicago – does anyone really know what time it is? Does anybody really care?