I could never spend a large amount of money on a watch. To me, they are utilitarian devices that I can consult during the day to see where I’m supposed to be. That doesn’t mean I attach no importance to my timepiece. If I manage to walk out of the house in the morning without putting it on, I know I’m doomed to a day of looking at my bare wrist in a reflex action that’s very hard to shake. Of course, now I also carry a mobile phone. This device can tell me the time perfectly adequately, so why haven’t I consigned my analog wrist mounted device to the scrap-heap?
There is a certain amount of sentimentality as my mum gave me my current timepiece, but if I’m honest with myself, that’s not the only reason. Firstly, I have to fish my phone out of whichever pocket its hiding in. When I look at the digital numbers on the face of my mobile phone, my brain has to mentally convert these glowing figures into the analog constructs I’m used to. I don’t know how many times I look at my watch in a day, but probably enough to consider it too much of a faff to replace with my phone.
My first ever watch was a wind up affair. It came with a dour warning about the dangers of overwinding the mechanism lest the delicate clockwork parts inside break. I remember going into school one January morning and being confronted with the first digital watches. No need to wind these up, they’re battery-powered. Look, my one’s got a light so you can tell the time in the dark. If you press this button, you can see the date. One of them even had a tiny calculator built into the face of the watch with a miniscule keypad containing the buttons.
As a sucker for anything new, I found myself drawn to the dark side. The promise of no winding. The snazzy features. Being able to tell the time in the dark. But after a few minutes of playing, I decided that the new devices had significant drawbacks. The displays, being dark grey on a grey background, were difficult to read. The minute buttons were so small and hard that keeping them depressed for any length of time hurt your finger. The absolute worst thing about them was their appearance. They lacked the simple elegance of the analog face. In its place was a cheap looking display with all the charm of a cold, wet fish.
If the rumours are to be believed, Apple are about to release a watch. I’m sure it will be amazing and packed with multimedia features. No doubt it will be very successful, just like all their other recent inventions. Just so long as they don’t forget the fundamental purpose of a timepiece. When I look at my wrist, before I want a multimedia extravaganza, I want to know the time.
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