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Watches in the age of the smartphone – still useful?

Do you still wear a watch? They used to be an absolute necessity for anyone on a schedule, but today, in the age of smart phones, watches don’t always seem quite as essential as they once did. Most of us carry our phones at all times, so why would we need an alternative way of telling the time? Our phone lock screens tell us the time down to the second – if we even bother to actually lock them. It’s not uncommon to have phones open and available almost all day.

But, despite how useful smartphones are, watches have not disappeared from our wrists. Why do we keep wearing them when we don’t have to?


Why watches are still useful

First, and perhaps foremost, watches are still useful. There are places and times where a phone is not appropriate, but watches are acceptable. For schoolchildren, watches are essential for situations like exams, where a smartphone is seen as a potential way to cheat. For adults, phones may be inappropriate in all kinds of places, from meetings to job interviews to jury service. Looking at a phone may be viewed as rude, or it might suggest that you are distracted. In cases like jury service, or driving a car, it might even potentially be illegal!

Phones are also occasionally inconvenient. You might have to get it out of your bag and flip open a case to check the time, compared to just glancing at the watch on your wrist. Especially in situations where you are uncomfortable opening your bag, such as on crowded public transport, a watch is the better option. If you’re in a rush and frequently checking the time, a watch can again be far easier to use.

Smart watches

If you need any proof that watches are easier and more convenient than phones, just look at the recent rise of smartwatches. Major manufacturers have accepted that opening a phone to check notifications (and the time!) is not always as convenient as we would like. Having all that information on our wrists is far more convenient than having to check a smartphone every few minutes.

Watches as jewellery in their own right

Of course, watches are not popular just because they are useful. Watches are pieces of jewellery in their own right, and are often chosen for their appearance as much as their function. Just think of all the glamorous bracelet stack pictures that bloggers love posting – how many feature watches? They seem to be one of the most common ways to decorate wrists.

There are also plenty of watch designs that prioritize design. My mother, for example, loves tiny antique watches, even though she can hardly make out the time on them. I have friends who love to wear beautiful watches that look more like friendship bracelets than traditional watches. These are pieces of jewellery before they are useful ways to tell time.

Watches as status symbols

Of course, we all know the extra purpose of watches: as status symbols. The most obvious example of this is wearing an incredibly expensive watch to show that you can afford it. But what about all the other ways that watches function as status symbols? A watch might show that you are busy and important. A beautiful antique shows your good taste and appreciation for history; a sleek modern design shows that you have a refined sense of style. As a piece of jewellery that we wear every day, in a wide variety of situations, watches can be a powerful way to say something about ourselves.

If you still wear a watch, why? If you don’t wear a watch, would you consider trying one?

20 Dec 2016

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