Do You Really Need a Watch Anymore?
Oyster Perpetual Lady-Datejust Pearlmaster, by ROLEX.
These days, we’re so connected that we reach for our cellphones the way a junkie reaches for the next fix. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, e-mail, WhatsApp, SMS and more are all so much a part of our lives that the smartphone is a lifeline like no other (and I hope you back up your data regularly).
The first thing I do when I wake up is to reach for my iPhone: It tells me the time and what I’ve missed overnight. I barely look at my alarm clock, a device that seems more and more to sit decoratively on my bedside table. As I head out the door, I may glance at my watch to see how I’m doing for time. Chances are, though, that I’m already on my phone, texting, scrolling and checking on, you know, stuff.
When I need to check the time, I check my watch. But more often than not, I hit the Home button on my iPhone. Why ever not? I can tell the time and by the way, let me find out about the weather in Paris, read George Takei’s latest “Oh my” Facebook posting, and stalk — I mean follow — hunky Shemar Moore (Criminal Minds) on Instagram.
Of course, people don’t wear watches for other reasons. A guy I’m dating on and off hasn’t worn a timepiece since he was 19. “My first girlfriend gave me a watch for my birthday. She broke my heart when she left me, so I threw away the watch,” he says. He’s now 49, and as far as I can tell has gotten over her. He has also developed an uncanny instinct for telling the time. He doesn’t even check his mobile phone or sneak a peek at my watch, and he gets the time right. Every. Single. Time. It’s spooky.
My BFF has psoriasis, so watch bands can potentially aggravate her condition. But it hasn’t stopped her from building up a collection of Seiko watches for their retro styling that remind her of her late father, and Swatches for their whimsical designs. A favourite is one with a pattern that resembles Queen Elizabeth II’s profile, and harks back to the year she spent in Manchester as a child. She’s currently looking for a high-end white ceramic watch to buy. “Because I like the design.”
Watches have become jewellery, at least among the fashion pack. I can understand why you would want to wear a watch that doesn’t work because it looks good on the wrist, especially when styled with a bunch of bangles and bracelets. And ever since Calvin Klein launched the first fashion watch in 1997, fashion brands now offer seasonal timepiece collections. Some watches from high fashion houses, such as the Chanel J12, are hailed for their horlogerie innovations. However, I draw the line at wearing two watches at the same time, like how the hardcore watch collectors do. It’s just not my style.
You could argue that the wristwatch — invented by Patek Philippe in 1868 as a “lady’s bracelet watch” — was originally intended as a piece of women’s jewellery anyway. (In comparison, the first wristwatch for men, the Santos, was created by Louis Cartier for an aviator friend. It gained popularity in World War I when officers understandably found them more useful than pocket watches in battle.)
But the humble wristwatch has taken a beating of late from the sheer omnipresence of the mobile phone. The launch of Samsung’s Galaxy Gear smartphone watch has given us a glimpse of a Star Trek-esque future (oh, myyy). Apple-heads continue to speculate about the iWatch. “I want the entire Internet on my wrist,” Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak declared to Wired magazine earlier this month.
Well, I don’t. Not exactly. I like that I can tell the time on my smartphone, but call me traditional, call me a creature of habit — call me a Luddite, even. I actually like wearing a wristwatch. Its reassuring heft on my wrist is as much a timekeeping device and fashion accessory, as it is a reminder that time itself is ephemeral, yet infinite. Besides, I would look ridiculous holding my wrist up to my ear to take a phone call.