GUEST COLUMN: Can anybody tell me what time it is?
Sunday, 08 July 2012 by Mark Magnan
I bought a watch recently. I know that is hardly newsworthy. But it does bring up some interesting points.
What did people do before technology made clocks so small that you could carry them on your wrist, or even in your pocket? Well prior to that time you mostly had to gauge time by the sun during the day. Of course sundials were useful. If you lived in a large city they may have a clock tower with the appropriate chimes sounding at the various spots during the hour. But unless you were listening at the top of the hour you may not know what the actual hour was for the other chimes.
Then somewhere, probably Switzerland, some jeweler made a clock that was ever smaller until it was portable. Then some other genius decided to attach it to the left wrist, since almost no one really uses their left arm and hand. Thus was born the wrist watch.
What was once a device that simply allowed you to tell time, has now become a major fashion statement. That starts the issue that I have in buying a watch. Admittedly I am a horrible shopper, I sometimes drive myself crazy with my inability to pick out an item. And even then I often will return the item because there is something about it that doesn't suit me. So let me issue an open apology to the various salesclerks that have waited on me recently in my quest for a new watch. I really shouldn't say quest, perhaps odyssey. Since there are so many things that seem to stand in my way when it comes to picking out such a device.
As it turns out I actually bought a digital watch. The first one I have owned in who knows how long. I was raised during a time when clocks and watches were simply hands moving around a dial. You had to know something about the clock face to accurately tell time. Oh, I did own a digital watch some years ago, but they were new and it was a fad. But mostly I have had the watch with hands, usually three since seconds seem to matter. I will point out the fact that some of my fancier watches had only one or two markings on the face, so accurate time telling required some thought.
The newest watch is more for sports or activities. It has some fancy electronic options that will be used regularly for the first few months, and will then fade to the background as my device becomes just a simple means of telling time.
One of the requirements was that it was water resistant. I frequent the lake and would like something that will hold up to those conditions. But what I did find out that almost every watch on the market is water resistant. Just in case you decided to take a swim with your nice gold and jeweled watch, you never know when those urges will hit.
I can remember a time when watches were not meant to be in water. I can recall John Cameron Swayze strapping a watch to a horse's leg and then the horse jumped off a platform into a pool of water. This was to show the watch's water resistance, like just dunking the watch in a glass of water wouldn't demonstrate the same ability. But the commercial was catchy, obviously I have remembered it all these years. This was the same watch that "would take a licking and keep on ticking".
One thing I always have to consider is how durable a watch is for me. It seems that my ability to accidentally damage a watch goes up with the cost of the watch. Most of the time I wear a watch from my collection that will be appropriate for the day. If I am out doing something where the watch might get scratched, then I use an older and more durable watch. For those Sunday mornings I will grab one without numbers on the face because nothing says "expensive" like a watch that challenges you to work for the most accurate time.
Another major hurdle that I had to overcome was with a specific brand of watch. I liked this specific brand and style of watch, and it was near the top of my list for purchasing. But the company decided to use a spokesman that didn't necessarily sell me on the watch. It was a certain quarterback for a New York football team that I just do not like. I mean if you are going to sell watches in Dallas Cowboy territory you might want to choose a spokesperson that doesn't bring up disgust and loathing from the natives. There are few quarterbacks in the NFL that would actually keep me from buying a watch, and this company picked the one on the top of my list. I somehow doubt they will feel my protest, but it has been launched none the less.
I am not of the culture where I rely on my "smart" phone to tell me the time. Actually the only thing smart about my phone is that it follows me around and makes phone calls. It does tell time, but the screen is so small that it makes a very poor "watch". I still look to my left wrist to see what time it is when I have the desire to know.
I am still in the market for a new dress/casual type watch. But my immediate need for a watch has been solved, so that will also buy me some time for the next round of shopping. Salesclerks beware.