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January 26, 2015

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The Two Reasons to Wear a Watch

 Advantages of wearing a watch

“What are you going to do when the new Apple Watch comes out?”

Friends, on that fine morning I plan to be at my bench, endeavoring to maintain the level of service and integrity that the clients of TimeScapeUSA have come to expect.  I don't panic every time some over-compensated child prodigy develops an “app” for delivering crowd-sourced Jaeger shots via skateboard, and neither should you. But it might be worth checking, in an age when the kids use phones to tell time, why we still bother wearing watches?  Are the Apple Watch and its ilk really the future of my industry?

As with hand-rolled Cohibas, Stefano Bemer shoes, and Bachman Turner Overdrive, it may be that if you have to ask you won't ever understand.  To the Enthusiast the question is irrelevant; for the ignorant, no amount of evangelizing will convince.  But far be it from me to duck an assignment, especially in the service of an industry that, in its constant homage to a storied past, can be sentimental to the point of technical regression.

L'Enfer, C'est Les Autres

apple watch minnesotaThe first reason to wear a watch is so that other people will see it.  Do you deny it?  Because you're a damned liar if you do.  Why else would an entire industry pivot as one to follow the stylistic blatherings of Jean-Claude Biver?  The Hublot Big Bang ushered in the Era of Mass, and even venerable houses like Rolex rushed to incorporate this virus into watch designs already sanctified by time and tradition.  Curse Biver (or possibly Flavor Flav), but the reality is that by the mid 2000's, the masculine world finally had the cash to sport timepieces that would never fit well under a French cuff.

So an Apple product on your wrist instead of hiding it in your pocket?  Tell me I'm crazy, but that's like all the magic of wearing an old Suburbs t-shirt without the mess of having to explain your shitty favorite band.   All the cache of being in the inner circle, and everyone knowing it, while at the same time miles ahead.  

You don't need an endowed chair in Interpretive Semiotics to realize that having an enormous hunk of costly, precious metal flashing from your arm is meant to signify wealth, status, and power.  Is it a gambit in the anguished mating dance on that first date, proving you can “feather the nest” better than a rival?  Do you mean to cow opposing council, or win a coveted slot on the board?  Perhaps your watch is merely a maneuverer in the establishment of a secret hierarchy in what might otherwise be an egalitarian confederacy of brother tech-head douchebags.         

A watch can be an ornament that accentuates an outfit, and in so doing serves to ramify a particular idea of style.  Worn well, it communicates a nuance of personality – “I enjoy this complex watch because I am complex.”  Does your dive piece imply literal sport, or could it serve more figuratively as an emblem of the risk and adrenaline you crave?  Maybe the circular slide rule on your Breitling Navitimer has never been used for mid-air fuel consumption calculations, but the tool implies a knowing hand.

And yet, like guns, pickup trucks, and implants, too much starts to look like compensation for a lack of personality.  Here at TimescapeUSA we are bound to advise: do not wear the watch the world expects of you, wear the watch you want.

Where There's a Will, There's a Way

breitling navitimer The second, better reason for wearing a watch (rather than moodily glancing at your telephone like a middle schooler) is this: you love watches and want to wear one.  One might as well ask why we love watches in the first place. Here's a clue: when wearing a watch, are you constantly positioning your arm so that others get an unobstructed view?  Do you turn small sartorial adjustments into a Showtime-Kick's-worth[1] of drama and reveal?  Or is more like you're on a date, just you and your little Baby?  Do you find yourself sneaking little glances at it (though you already know what it looks like) because it's so fucking cool, maybe winding it again just so you can touch it?

 A good watch, a watch of quality, is an unfailing companion.  It reliably announces and organizes the passage of time which is to say: life itself.  It is a tangible essay on the classical sciences of Euclid and Pythagoras – indeed the mechanical watch participates in our world in a way more intuitively accessible, more tactile, than any transistor.  It is contained like a life boat, independent like a partisan, coherent like the best idea of law.  A good watch is one of our best attempts at counterfeiting life, and one of our most entertaining efforts in opposition to entropy.  It is a struggle against the simplicity of chaos, noble for being doomed.

The Apple Watch is coming – it's here!  And I'm sure it's a million kinds of awesome.  But the thing is like having an ambassador on your wrist, a representative from a far away empire dedicated to channeling a particular kind of trademark coolness to you.  No matter how much BASE jumping you do with the thing on, it will never be yours.  It will never need you just to work, just to be.  Not like a watch.  Not like a real one.  

 

[1]     I hope you're ready for this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e3Qp_H7EZUM


Craig Zaligson
Craig Zaligson

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