Keeping Watch

I’ve worn a wristwatch nearly every day since I was eleven years old.

Shortly after the hike to Big Bald Peak I noticed my Benrus Ultra Steel Quartz was gasping its last and then died, or at least it appeared to.

This replica of a Vietnam-era, or even WWII-era military watch was, for me, the standard by which all other watches are measured. Clear numbers, accurate time, no frills. It was perfect. Now, after twenty years of faithful timekeeping, it was dead. What to do? Go without a watch? What, are you kidding?

So I began the search for a replacement and found myself asking why I bothered. Why wear a watch anyway? Is it really necessary since clocks are on nearly everything (phones, computers, cars, microwave ovens, etc.)? I was going to add VCRs to the list but realized that would date me, and most VCR clocks were always flashing 00:00 anyway but, I mean, it’s practically impossible to go anywhere without some reminder of what time it is. Is wearing a wristwatch just a habit, a fashion, an affectation? Coincidentally, I had read an article a few weeks before about how wearing wristwatches is a habit that is dying out.

Just what do we need a wristwatch to do? Do we really need them at all? Need being a relative term, I suppose, the answer is no, but do they continue to serve a useful purpose? In my view, yes, they do. Maybe not as much, or in the same way, as HP or others who would try to reinvent and revive the wristwatch would like us to think, but I think they do still serve a useful purpose. They can be nothing more than a gem or bauble, a status symbol, or fashion statement. But they can also be a more convenient way of knowing what time it is, at least in my opinion. Looking down at my wrist is more convenient than dragging out my cell phone and using whatever means it uses to wake it up enough to tell me what time it is. It can also be a useful way of letting someone know their time is up without being quite as obvious as dragging out your cell phone. Okay, maybe it is that obvious.

Is it a fashion statement, an expression of style and personality? Sure, I guess, in some sense the same way cars, clothes, furniture, and decorative choices are. But if it serves a useful purpose without its fashion getting in the way, isn’t its function  worth it? That’s the rationalization I used.

The "Replacement"

And wouldn’t you know, after a day or so, the old watch started running again and hasn’t missed a beat since.


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