December 15, 2005
Who watches the watches?

Those crazy kids, disdaining traditional timekeeping methods for newfangled technology.

OF the eight twentysomethings chatting at a table at Luby's, half don't wear watches.

"I can get the time from my cell phone," was the main reason cited by the watchless.

To wear or not to wear is a generational thing, several said.

"My mom and dad wear watches. They're not as big into technology," said Crystal Elliers, 23, a Loyola University, New Orleans, law school student.

She and many in their 20s are married to their cell phones.

They also can get the time from a personal computer, BlackBerry, dashboard, microwave — even a refrigerator magnet.

My watch battery died last month, and I was lazy about getting it replaced, so for a couple of weeks there I too depended on my cellphone and Blackberry for the time. I got by, but I felt underdressed the whole time, so I won't be giving up my wristwear anytime soon. It's not a fashion statement or anything like that, I'm just a creature of habit, I guess. And I must say I agree totally with this statement from Timex spokesman Jim Katz.

No matter how many people use cell phones, Katz maintained, "a watch is still the best real estate for time."

It's awkward to pull out a cell phone in the middle of a meeting, he observed, and easier to subtly glance at your watch.

Yep. So who out there is going bare-wristed in favor of a geek gadget? Leave a comment and let me know.

And in the Questions That Should Maybe Be Rephrased department:

Watches are aesthetically and symbolically satisfying, [Kit Yarrow, a professor of psychology specializing in the psychology of shopping at Golden Gate University] said.

"The circular nature of a watch — the hands going around — and their meaning — marking time — are universally appealing," she said. Many watches offer their owners the chance "to enjoy a thing of beauty by simply glancing at their wrist."

"I constantly notice people feeling their watches while they're talking or admiring each other's watches, particularly men. What else do men have to play with like that?"

No comment.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on December 15, 2005 to Technology, science, and math | TrackBack

I have three watches in regular rotation, and a while back I threw out about four others. Of the three, one is a basic Timex with a Navajo-made band, one is a Longines I bought in Zurich or Geneva, and one is an old Bulova Accutron. None of them are digital, either.

Posted by: Linkmeister on December 15, 2005 2:41 PM

Ang has been watchless for quite some time now, relying on his cell phone for telling time. I still like to wear a watch.

Posted by: blurker gone bad on December 15, 2005 2:47 PM

I don't wear a wrist watch, and did not long before I had a phone or blackberry to check the time on. I never liked the feel of the watch on my wrist. I did for a while carry a pocket watch. Overall it was rarely difficult to figure out what time it was between car clocks, wall clocks and other peoples wrists.

Posted by: Kyle on December 15, 2005 3:00 PM

I wear a watch that is a geek gadget... it has a flash drive built into it.

Posted by: Souperman on December 15, 2005 3:11 PM

I used to go watchless until I started running regularly. Then I began wearing one to time myself.

Posted by: elgato on December 15, 2005 3:11 PM

I also feel naked without a watch on my wrist. I noticed that I wasn't wearing one this morning and I've felt awkward all day.

Usually, I rotate three watches during the week and two others on the weekend.

Posted by: William Hughes on December 15, 2005 3:39 PM

I quit wearing watches a long time ago (20 years!) and I find I can almost always get the time almost anywhere I am - clocks are everywhere, as are other's watches. Plus if necessary, I can usually guess within +/- 15 minutes.

Posted by: darms on December 15, 2005 3:52 PM

I quit wearing watches several years ago so I could lose the wrist tan line. I wore a watch on my belt loop for a while, and now I depend on my phone for time. However, I started wearing bracelets recently, so I guess I've come full circle.

Posted by: Leisa on December 15, 2005 3:55 PM

I have two, one that has a holiday band on it and one for everyday wear, but neither has a functioning battery right now. I tend to use my cell phone as my watch, but, on occasion, it's nice to have a watch instead (like on a plane). The watches are in a pile of stuff, all of which needs to go to a jewelry repair place.

Clearly, based on my adventures today, I need a GPS more than a watch.

Posted by: Sue on December 15, 2005 4:09 PM

Yeah, I mean really. Kids today, they don't even know how to tie their shoes because of this Velcro Stuff. And they don't know what I mean when I say they sound like a broken record!

Er, I mean 'No, I don't wear a watch, and I don't trust anyone who does.'

Er, something like that.

Posted by: Michael Croft on December 15, 2005 5:02 PM

Also a post on this over at - I'm in the no watch crowd. I just check my cell phone or the sun.

Posted by: matth on December 15, 2005 5:37 PM

My watch ran out of battery several months ago and I haven't really needed it since. My cell phone suffices most of the time now. Only very occasionally is it inconvenient to whip out the phone to check the time--but a meeting is certainly one of those places.

Posted by: Ginger Stampley on December 15, 2005 6:16 PM

I wore my Tag for years until they made the metal detectors at the courthouse too sensitive. I started taking off anything metal. Now, the watch is gone, the belt is very basic, and the shoes are rubber soled. Everything else goes in the briefcase.

I miss my watch, though.

Posted by: RedScare on December 15, 2005 6:48 PM

I'm firmly in the "wear a watch" camp. It's true that we are inundated with time pieces, but I like the feel of my watch, I like to watch it move around, and it comes in handy if you want to check out the time without making a scene. Unfortunately, I only have one right now. It's a Citizen. I hope to get a Movado soon and then a Rolex when I graduate law school.

Posted by: Damon McCullar on December 15, 2005 6:56 PM

I think watches are nifty jewelry but I've never been comfortable with jewelry. I haven't worn a watch for years. I usually have my cell in my pocket. All the meeting rooms where I work have clocks on the wall.

Posted by: bill on December 15, 2005 7:03 PM

I probably prove the point of this article as a recently graduated twentysomething. In high school, I wore a watch. Then I got a cell phone. Then, by my freshman year of college my cell phone was attached to me. I felt naked without my cellphone. When I'd forget to wear my watch, I realized that it was no big deal, since the time was on my cell phone. Gradually, I stopped wearing a watch, and I'd just check my cell phone. Occasionally, yeah, it's a minor nuisance not to have a watch if I'm in a meeting in a room without a clock and I can't really pull out my cell phone, but 99.99% of the time, I can find out the acurate time without a watch, so it's not worth the hassle.

Posted by: Byron L on December 15, 2005 7:09 PM

It's time to accept that watches are destined to be purely ornamental. As much as I love my watch (won't touch a digital) and will have my son wear one. I have to concede that they're for "show" more than utility any more.

I don't even need a cell phone.. my Palm tells the time and I don't look stupid pulling it out in a meeting.

Posted by: Jeff G. on December 16, 2005 10:16 AM

I don't have a cell phone, so I kinda need my watch for timekeeping, but the strap is broken so I keep it in my pocket, which I suppose is one step away from relying on a theoretical cell phone. I fully intend to get a new watch Real Soon Now.

Posted by: Chris Quinones on December 16, 2005 1:19 PM

The circular nature of a watch — the hands going around — and their meaning — marking time — are universally appealing,

Hands going around? I thought those went out of style back in the '70's! But then again, I've heard people complain about the excessive precision of digital watches. A lot of folks just want to know the time rounded off to the nearest 15, or maybe 5, minutes, not that it's 2:32 PM.

As for the high-$ watches being advertised for the holidays (or, for the less-well-off, the grey-market replicas thereof), they don't appeal to me. Just a flashy way of telling people (or fooling people) that you're rich. Of course, if I were in my 20's and single, I might have different views.

Posted by: Mathwiz on December 16, 2005 2:32 PM

I wore my Tag for years until they made the metal detectors at the courthouse too sensitive. I started taking off anything metal.

I realize we're getting a bit off topic, but I hear you. Got called to jury service a few months back and couldn't believe the hassle. Had to throw away a measly pen-knife with a whopping 2cm blade.

Look, on aircraft I dig security. Clearly we can't let 9/11 happen again. But does the courthouse really think someone's going to hijack the building and fly it into a jumbo jet?

I suppose someone could assault a judge or something, but don't they have armed security in the courthouses?

Back on topic: I have a different sort of geek watch: a Casio with a built-in shortwave receiver to automatically synchronize to NIST's WWV time transmissions. Atomic-clock accuracy (as if anyone needs that)!

I don't have a cell phone, but I could get the time from my pager in a pinch. But that's rather cumbersome compared to simply looking at my wrist.

Posted by: Mathwiz on December 16, 2005 2:46 PM

I have about a dozen swatch watches that I have in rotation. My nice graduation gift watch fell off my arm in Vegas in 2001, and I immediately went to the Swatch store to get a cheap replacement until the gold one got fixed. I fell in love, and kept on buying new swatches. I never bothered to get the gold one fixed.

I use my phones and my computers and everything, but my watch is the first thing I glance at when I want to know what time it is.

Posted by: 'stina on December 16, 2005 5:20 PM