Open Thinkering


Why I no longer wear a watch.

CC BY-NC spengy

I remember fondly my first ‘proper’ watch: a digital Casio black-and-blue affair with a stopwatch. It was awesome. When I got older and a bit more style-conscious I requested a Seiko Kinetic for my 18th birthday. The Kinetic range had just come out and seduced me into thinking I’d never need to replace the battery in it. They were right, I didn’t. Instead, within two years the whole drive mechanism needed changing at a price not far away from the original purchase price of the whole watch. You never buy version one of anything, trust me. For my 21st birthday I received (at my request) another Seiko that looked very similar but used a good old battery. That’s the one I’ve still got but, as of January 1st, 2010, no longer wear.

I was at university when I got that watch, in my third and final year. During that year I had a lecturer for one of my Philosophy modules who would whip out his Sony Ericsson T68i every so often to look at the screen whilst he was lecturing. At the time I thought this was incredibly rude: how dare he be checking to see if he had any text messages whilst lecturing?! 😮

Later I became the proud owner of a T68i. It dawned on me that my lecturer didn’t wear a watch and, because the phone has the time in big, bold numbers as a screensaver, he had been merely checking what time it was so he didn’t run over. I forgave him post-hoc. 😉

I’m always a bit worried about getting RSI, and so began to take my watch off automatically upon sitting down at my Macbook Pro after I noticing that taking my watch off whilst using it made my right wrist ache less.* But then I started to think… When I’m using my Macbook the time is displayed at the top-right of the screen; when I’ve got my iPhone on me (pretty much always) it displays the time on the lockscreen. Why am I wearing a watch at all?

The nail in the coffin for my watch, now cutting a forlorn figure on the kitchen table, was an article in WIRED magazine (to which I now subscribe). It too laughed at watches as an anachronism. Why on earth, it asked, when the time is all around us – including on personal devices that we carry everywhere – do we insist on wearing something that can only single-task? That was it, I decided I’d be watch-less in 2010.

Since then, I’ve found how liberating not knowing exactly what time it is can be. Yes, it’s necessary sometimes (when teaching, for example) but when in and around the house it certainly leads to more Flow experiences. And that’s a good thing. 😀

How about you? What else do we do or wear that could be considered anachronistic in this day-and-age?

* Yes, I (used to) wear my watch on my right wrist. No, I’m not left-handed. And no, I don’t know why I (used to) do this. I just always have done. :-s

9 thoughts on “Why I no longer wear a watch.

  1. No watches here. I don’t see the need even when teaching as there’s a clock in my room, some children hace a watch on and then there’s my iPhone and the laptop. Time is everywhere and it’s great to think that when I get home I don’t have it hitting me in the face from every room I walk into.
    As for other anachronistic examples I’d say using a video recorder. I have one but it is more ‘ornamental’ than functional. Why don’t I chuck it? No idea.

  2. I’d really miss my watch if I didn’t wear it! I’m so much in the habit of wearing it that I don’t feel right without it!
    From the point of view of knowing the time:
    1: PC – it’s got the time digitally – I find it much easier to ‘feel’ the time when I see it analogue.
    2: Office – have a clock on the wall (analogue!) which works fine – though I tend to forget it’s there!
    3: Home – clocks in most rooms – though far too many are digital for my liking! (Microwave/cooker/freeview boxes etc)
    4: Mobile phone – tends to be buried somewhere in my bag as I rarely use it; and it’s also digital!

    So, watches rule for me!

    Kvnmel … I also have a video player – combined with a DVD recorder; at times I prefer the video as you can press record & it starts instantly – not a few seconds later. Useful if you want to record NOW!

  3. One reason I continue to wear a watch is for the change in mindset that comes with taking it off. I do this, for example, at the beginning of a tai chi class as a way of saying to myself, “no matter how quickly or slowly this seems to be going today, I’m here for the duration and am going to submit completely to this.” (one of the classes lasts for 3.5 hours)

  4. I carry a pocket watch because it is inconvenient. I cannot be frequently glancing at the time. This helps me to retake control of my life.

  5. My wife bought me an awesome binary watch (and proper binary too, none of this BCD rubbish) and so I wear it as a personal statement (“I am a geek, and proud of it”) more than anything else. I know what you mean about RSI when typing though – I too frequently remove mine for that purpose.

    Interestingly though, I do think your lecturer was rude for checking the time on his phone – I certainly don’t like the idea of doing that in the classroom. How much of your focus was taken from the content of the lecture for you to froth about his lack of social awareness? The fact that it isn’t necessarily obvious *what* he was doing isn’t entirely excused by his benign intentions.

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