I’m one of a rapidly dwindling few who wear a wristwatch. This is a sad thing, to be mourned.
After the wristwatch was introduced way back in 1868 by Patek Philippe, it took a while to catch on with the public. For the first few decades, it was marketed mainly to women as an accessory, but men for the most part continued to use the pocket watch for time-telling until the First World War, when wristwatches were issued to soldiers and referred to as “trench watches”. It was bloody inconvenient to have to retrieve a bulky timepiece from your pocket or kit if your hands were busy operating an ack-ack gun or piloting a biplane. With its masculinity legitimized by active service, the wristwatch wasn’t just for women anymore.
After the war, the returning soldiers continued wearing their wristwatches; people noticed and sales took off, so much so that pocket watches soon came to be regarded less as timepieces than as museum pieces. Wristwatches remained the standard for over 80 years.
I felt so proud and grown up when I turned six and my parents gave me my first watch, and I never took it off even to go to bed–or even in the bath, because it was waterproof to a depth of 60 feet. I learned fractions by looking at my watch. I’ve had many, many watches in the almost five decades since then, including a Timex digital that served me well for about 15 years, and after all this time, I feel sort of naked without one strapped to my arm.
But in the 21st century, wristwatches have been largely supplanted by smartphones, especially among the young, who for some reason would sooner fish a phone out of their pockets or knapsacks than go to the bother of looking at their wrists. Thus, the pocket watch has been revived for the computer age. Everything old is new again, goes the song.
I think I know how long this pocket watchery will last.
Soon Apple will come out with an iPhone wristband that will sell for $89.95 and attach to your current iPhone via a special shell with a retail value of $69.95.
Following that, a smaller, more bare-bones iPhone (consisting primarily of the clock and minus the phone and web functions) will be marketed under the name iClock–retail price $249.95. Trendsetters will hail it as a remarkable innovation. Of course, the old iPhone wristband will be incompatible with your new iClock, but you’ll be able to buy the new iClock peripheral wristband/shell combo for just $99.95.
The company, after months of public anticipation, will roll out a sleeker, roundish model with a couple of cool features: by tapping the screen, you will be able to change the display to one resembling an old-timey analog wristwatch, and there’ll be a side button to activate a digitalized ticking sound with adjustable volume, for which you may download the app at iTunes. This exciting new device will be called the Apple iClock RetroNano, and you’ll be able to purchase it for the modest sum of $329.95, wristband and shell not included. It will be billed as the greatest thing since the invention of time.
The old iClock wristband will of course not fit the Apple iClock RetroNano, but the Apple boffins will also have created a band that fits only the RetroNano, available in a wide variety of fashionable colours. It will set you back a mere $149.95, and every teenager will absolutely, positively have to have one or they’ll just die.
This is what’s known as progress.