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Why don't we wear wristwatches anymore?


Author's Note

Before writing this, I would have thrown in my lot with the wristwatch doomsayers. In truth, I can't remember the last time I saw someone, especially a young person, wearing a watch.

It just goes to show, you should never underestimate the power of marketing to instill a sense of need in the consumer. When the new iPhone came out in 2011, 55 million of us lined up to buy it, disregarding the economy, our budgets or, in many cases, the 2010 iPhone in our pockets. We simply genuflected toward Cupertino and got out our wallets.

Which raises another point: For all our fetishization of cell phones, there's every chance that, in another decade or less, we'll be declaring them dead, too (anyone remember when PDAs were thought irreplaceable?).

Personally, I enjoy the mind-boggling skill and artistry embodied by mechanical watches. I particularly value the scientific and technological history they represent. More than that, though, I value the memories I associate with them. Unlike consumer electronics, old watches are not disposable; they are gifts, hand-me-downs and even lifelong companions.

Will we ever produce the smartphone equivalent of a sentimental, well-crafted timepiece? Now that's something I would like to see. The technical challenges, though significant, are within reach, and our planet would be the better for it. Perhaps it's an idea whose time has come.

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Sources

  • Agence France-Presse. "Beautiful and Obsolete: The Wristwatch Boom Mystery." The Independent (UK). Dec. 6, 2010. (July 10, 2012) http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/fashion/beautiful-and-obsolete-the-wristwatch-boom-mystery-2152673.html
  • Edwards, Benj. "The 10 Victims of Recent Tech." PC Magazine. Feb. 24, 2011. (July 10, 2012) http://www.pcmag.com/slideshow/story/261035/the-10-victims-of-recent-tech/7
  • Foresman, Chris. "Wireless Survey: 91% of Americans Use Cell Phones." Ars Technica. March 24, 2010. (July 11, 2012) http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2010/03/wireless-survey-91-of-americans-have-cell-phones/
  • FSWI. "The Swiss and World Watchmaking Industry in 2011." Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry. 2012. (July 9, 2012) http://www.fhs.ch/statistics/watchmaking_2011.pdf
  • Gonzalez, Sarah. "It's Time: The Wristwatch Makes a Comeback." National Public Radio. Nov. 8, 2010. (July 9, 2012) http://www.npr.org/2010/11/08/131163403/its-time-the-wristwatch-makes-a-comeback
  • Shuster, William George. "Is the Wristwatch Past Its Time?" JCK magazine. March 2007. (July 9, 2012) http://www.jckonline.com/2007/03/01/wristwatch-past-its-time
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