Friday, 16 January 2009

Watches - Less Is More

Watching Evan Davis on TV the other night, I noticed that his wrist was adorned with a mini-Martello tower of a watch - one of those big, thick, chunky, multifunction jobs that so many men seem to sport, bristling with buttons and knobs and covered with mysterious dials relating to heaven knows what obscure subdivisions of chronology. These things - however expensive and 'luxurious', whatever their claims to exquisite craftsmanship - are surely pretty ugly, aren't they, once they end up on someone's wrist? They're inelegant, out of scale and ostentatious. All a fellow needs for telling the time is a simple dial, as thin as possible, attached to the wrist. An adequate and elegant wristwatch can be had for little more than a tenner (mine's a Sekonda with Roman numerals and a second hand, ten years old and still going strong). Why do so many men encumber their wrists with protruberances of largely redundant chronometry? I suppose it's some kind of status thing - or maybe just the male appetite for gadgetry. No doubt there's an evolutionary explanation...

12 comments:

  1. Maybe it's just the north European equivalent of the chest wig and gold medallion beloved of southern Europe. Too cold for that up here. Watches are disposable items since a new, perfectly reliable one can often be had for less than the cost of replacing the battery in an old one. But admitting to throwing one's watch out every couple of years might well have the environmentalists knocking on the door I suppose.

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  2. Actually, if you think about it wearing a watch at all is one of the strangest things we do - a mini-clock strapped to the wrist. If we must do it - and in a timetable-driven world, I suppose we must - we should do it as discreetly as possible.

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  3. In matters of male adornment I have always taken a contrarian view - no rings, no watch, nothing. And the bagatelle linked to this was to simply become aware of the displays of time that, even 50 years ago, were everywhere; a big church in the high street; a man's hairy wrist on the 'bus; countless wall clocks near the door inside offices and shops; the position of the sun in the sky...
    My kids shake their heads and look at their feet but, whenever I am asked, I am never more than a few minutes off the mark.
    The idea that I may need to know the time in Honalulu, perhaps at a depth of two fathoms, is not a concept I have much sympathy with.

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  4. I agree that with men's watches less is most definitely more. Those ridiculous, lumpy action-man watches are too ugly for words. And don't even start on the blingy P Diddy kind. But a slim Jaeger leCoultre is a thing of beauty and if I had the money I would buy one for my husband, no question.

    Women's watches - well it's slightly different. They are, after all, an item of jewellry as well as a time-keeper. A light sprinkling of diamonds is perfectly permissible, nay desirable. As it is, I make do with a tatty old Timex.....

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  5. Junior and I are the proud owners of a pair of Galataseri Panerai watches, bought from a nice Turkish gentleman in Maintz at one twentieth the cost of the store bought version, do you think they are genuine ?
    Don't wear mine, wrist not strong enough, I wear my fathers 1930s Benson instead, the daily winding being part of the fitness regime.
    I blame Ian Fleming.
    Dawkins might think "if God existed and therefore invented time, then how come some museum hasn't got his wristwatch in a glass case"

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  6. Couldn't agree more Nige.
    The sundial strapped to my wrist does me proud.

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  7. Sundial an excellent idea, Joe - me I could use my nose as a gnomon...

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  8. I love watches. I own a couple dozen of them -- they are fashion accessories for me. My husband rarely ever *wore* a watch but kept his dad's pocket watch (sans chain) in his jeans pocket. My kids never wear watches because they carry cell phones, which tell time.

    If I were a Swiss watchmaker, I would be getting worried. The upcoming generations are not watch wearers.

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  9. My last phone used to gain about six minutes a month - theoretically impossible isn't it? You're right about the rising generation Susan...

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