For heaven's sake, folks, wear an actual watch!
November 16, 2021 at 3:12 am #39874
(To be clear, when I talk about Apple below, I treat Apple iPhones and the Apple watch as much the same thing. An Apple watch is basically an extension of the iPhone. I’m also obliquely referring to any “connected” smartwatch.)
In my last workplace, we were required to leave our phones and other smart wearables in our locker. The first time you “forgot” and wore your phone or smartwatch into the business, you lost a day of work. The next time? There was no next time.
So, most of my coworkers were millenials and toward the end of the workday, one of them might ask me, “Do you know what time it is?” My response went like this: “Why, yes. Yes I do. And do you know why?” Pointing to my wrist I’d say, “Because I wear a watch.”
Nowadays, younger folk often depend on their phone or smartwatch for the time. It’s also a kickass way to waste time on distractions.
Yes, your cell phone’s time is probably driven to some degree by an atomic clock, giving you a degree of accuracy you really don’t need.
A quartz watch is nearly as accurate, losing or gaining perhaps one to five seconds a week, an error you’re unlikely to even notice, a difference that doesn’t need to be corrected much more than once per month, if that often. It depends on how important absolute accuracy is to you.
Today, after a period in the doldrums, mechanical watches are making a comeback.
A mechanical watch is either hand wound or automatically wound (so-called “self-winding watches”). An automatic watch is driven by the activity of the wearer. It has a very off-centered wheel called a “rotor,” that reponds to gravity by swinging this way and that, doing nothing when it swings one way but engaging with a gear when swinging the other way. This gear then slightly tenses the mainspring, which stores that energy to be used for driving the hands of the watch.
Accuracy? In no way are even very expensive mechanical watches as accurate as even a $10 quartz digital display watch. So, why are more and more people going mechanical?
Well, for one thing, you look more adult and serious wearing a mechanical watch than if you’re wearing a brightly colored doodad on your wrist that sends you notifications and probably sends your location, activities, and everything you say all day back to be examined and used by Apple’s AI.
An Apple watch to a funeral or wedding or high stakes job interview? I don’t think so. Those situations cry out for something more conservative and dressy.
Any Apple product represents the epitome of planned and often built-in obsolescence, meaning that, like a car that starts depreciating the minute it rolls off the lot, an Apple phone loses value the minute you pay for it, and in two or three years you’ll take it off after spending far too much money to buy the latest iteration.
By contrast, a good mechanical watch reasonably well cared for will gain value as time goes by. So, a watch can be an investment, though unlike a gold bar or coin which have the property of just sitting there, a watch can do things for you while gaining in value.
Mechanical watches have an incomparable history that goes back to the earliest methods of marking time by sun shadows or dripping water on up to the first clocks with gear systems powered by weights, moving water, or whatever. From there, clockworks became important partners to science in terms of providing precision timekeeping.
Some clocks have made history and have had a major effect on civilization. John Harrison’s invention of the first accurate marine clock allowed the British Navy to calculate longitude, which saved countless sailors’ lives and allowed them to navigate around the entire globe establishing colonies and securing trade routes.
Today’s mechanical watches are marvels of engineering and miniaturization. Some of the tiny screws used in watches are so small that much smaller, they’d qualify as dust particles.
Think of the obvious problems that had to be solved. As you tense up the main spring, that tension grows and grows and wants to releasee itself in a burst, but that won’t do. How do you release that energy in a way regular enough to accurately power the hands of a watch in a consistent faction? The answer was invention of the escapement.
For divers, how do you make a watch dependably waterproof down to 300 meters?
But beyond all that, a watch can be a thing of beauty and an expression of personal style and taste, especially through the selection of the right wristband. Many watchlovers, myself included, quickly get rid of the stock band or bracelet and replace it with something more suited to their taste or more practicsl in terms of the intended use. You probably don’t want a metal bracelet to go ice fishing and a soldier probably wants something more durable and less likely to fall off than the usual two-piece watchband.
There are various types of mechanical watches as well: fashion watches, dress watches, field watches, aviator watches, dive watches, and more. Watches with built-in stop watch functions. Watches that give time in more than one time zone or show the phases of the moon.
And the various manufacturers have fascinating histories as well. Some of the Swiss companies date back to before the French revolution. Timex was formed in 1854 as the Waterbury Clock Co. Seiko nearly destroyed the Swiss watchmaking industry with their introduction of the first mass-produced quartz watch, though nowadays they make most of their money selling automatic watches.
I hope that if you aren’t wearing a mechanical watch, I’ve stirred your interest in finding out more.November 16, 2021 at 3:59 am #39876
Unseen, props on the ode to a watch. Good scribbles.
I stopped wearing watches at age 12. I have no use for tattoos, jewelry or any other frivolous adornments notwithstanding the conceded utility of a wrist watch. If i had to get a tattoo i think Reg’s Sleep of Reason or Paul Klee’s The Twittering Machine would do nicely. Even in my office i resented wearing a tie. Eventually i got to wearing just a sports jacket and then sometimes a sweater in the office. In court ya gotta do as the Romans do so no slacking there.
In not having a watch i have gotten a great sense of the passage of time. My buddy sometimes tests me when we are hiking. Often i am within a minute or two. Not sure that ability would be apparent had i worn a watch low these many years. Although as a joke i want a toupee. Ya ever see the episode on Seinfeld where George gets some kind of hair piece and instantly loses 10 years in his appearance?
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