Monday, October 28, 2013

The Luddite reminisces about watches

My wife has always been very keen on wristwatches that do pretty much everything, so she tends to go for those that not only show your heart rate, the speed you're walking, the speed you should be walking, how far under water you can go, whether there's enough air to breathe and so on, but also - when they have the time to do it - tell the time.

These watches are great, but all I want to know when I look at my watch is what time it is. Yup, I know, really old-fashioned, but that's the way things are. I've had watches that would wake me up in the morning, or act as stop-watches, or tell me the time in another part of the world, but in the end I still only use them to tell me the time here where my body actually is. That's really all I need. An alarm clock is better for me that a watch that starts going pip pip pip in the morning, and when have I ever needed to time someone who's racing?  Never, that I can remember.

The first watch I had, which I was given for my 21st birthday, just rolled around second by second, day after day, and told me the time. It lasted until my daughter was 12 (around twenty years, in other words) and I only stopped using it because my wife kindly brought me home a new watch she'd purchased on her trip to England. I imagine, if I could find my first watch, that it would still be going happily.

That second watch was equally long-lived. I only stopped using it when I was back in England with my wife, in 2007, by which time it had long since got gunk in the works, and no one could fix it properly, or else the parts had long since ceased to be made. It still ran, but you couldn't adjust anything very easily. Since it was getting frustrating not being able to tell the time correctly (and I've never got used to checking my cellphone for the time) we bought a cheap watch at a stall in Norwich market. It's the one I'm still wearing, even though it's a pain at daylight saving time - the one where you have to put the clocks back - as it takes forever to shift back eleven hours (if that's what it is we do).  It's never had the happy relationship with me that my first two watches had, and perhaps it feels a little unloved. Anyway, it goes, and that's what watches are made for.
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