The Wristwatch Has Come Full Circle

Recently a friend of mine bought me a gift. I don’t know why, but I assumed it was because of my manly muscles and strong cerebral prowess. Either way, it was an extremely sweet gesture and I opened it with keen hands.


Opening the package, I discovered it to be a wristwatch; analogue with a Velcro and camo-designed strap. Not only was this a cool and useful item, but it also got me thinking about what the wristwatch means in our society.


It’s very likely that right now there is a whole generation of people (probably younger people) who never wear a watch; in fact, they don’t have any need for one. What with the ubiquitous nature of mobile phones, a watch is not only superfluous, but in the digital age, its single purpose use renders it almost unwanted. Even if people do have one, it seems to be more of a status symbol rather than a time-keeping device.


I first thought about this after watching a TED Talk a while ago. I forget what the talk was about, but it was lead by Sir Ken Robinson (I honestly urge you to check out his talks). Robinson asked audience members born before a certain era to raise their hand. He then made a point of mentioning that the vast majority of the people with their hand up was wearing a watch.


He then asked the same question, but for people much younger. You guessed it, hardly anyone was wearing a watch this time.


Well, there’s no need is there? Until now. I mentioned about our digital society being one that almost demands gadgets with multi-purpose functions. So while the wristwatch seems to be an item that’s dying out, there is one wearable time-keeper that is coming into vogue: the smartwatch.


For those who don’t know, a smartwatch is a device that the user puts on their wrist and then synchronises it with their smartphone. It enables them to check messages, emails, updates and, yes, tell the time on a digital touchscreen display. Personally I’m not a fan, purely because I can’t think of a use for an item that shows you notifications that you can already see on the much bigger device already in your pocket.


But maybe I’m part of the older generation and don’t understand this latest trend. And so with grim melancholy, I shall remove this backwards cap and put my Turtles-themed skateboard away. I’m clearly not fooling anyone.


I find it fascinating that there is a cultural no-man’s land represented by a certain generation who may never wear a watch at all. There’s simply no need to. The next generation, however, I think we’ll be seeing a lot more watches around people’s wrists. Only it’ll be the smartwatch and not the classic wristwatch.


I can’t think of any other piece of technology that’s done this; essentially skipped a generation. Mobile phones have been around for years now and have simply advanced over time. The television has been with us for decades and, again, has changed slightly to accommodate updates in technology.


The watch, though, has been around since the 16th Century and, apart from a stint as a status symbol, seems to have had a hiatus in our society. Until now. If someone can mention any other device that has done this, I am definitely willing to learn.


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