Steve Ridout
Indie software creator

20 Years Later, And I'm Back To Wearing A Watch

December 11, 2022

And no, not a fancy smart watch. This is a throwback to a time when a state-of-the-art watches had LCD screens and black resin straps…

My CASIO watch

Yes, an old-school CASIO. The name, W-202-1AVEF, like the watch itself, is the antithesis of Apple’s clean aesthetic, proudly advertising its features: WATER RESIST 50m! ILLUMINATOR! But this is a style of watch has stood the test of time, and now has a certain retro cachet… (at least that’s what I tell myself!)

So what led me to this?

Way back in the mid 1990s, when I was around 15 years old, I started wearing a watch (an analogue Sekonda I think). I wore it for a few years until I got my first mobile phone. A Motorola, something like this:

Vintage Motorola e3788 Phone

As soon as I could check the time on my phone, my watch went in a drawer, and never came out again.

Fast forward 20+ years and something has changed. The phone has evolved into the attention-sucking everything-device. My attempt to simply tell the time gets hijacked by notifications or awakens my ever present urge to check Twitter, Gmail, Reddit, you get the picture. I often put my phone back in my pocket and think “oh yeah, what’s the time again?” Triggering me to reach into my pocket yet again.

This is my most compelling reason to wear a watch. It removes one attack vector in the war for attention between us and the consumer tech industry.

On top of that, for the job of checking the time, glancing at your wrist is actually pretty damn convenient. Especially if you happen to be cycling or cooking or any number of other activities.

Other ways it replaces my phone use

A surprise feature on my new watch which I never used on a smartphone is the hourly chime. It’s like the digital equivalent of an old village church bell. I’ve experimented with putting this on during the day when I’m working as a reminder that time is passing. If I happen to be slacking off when it goes off it encourages me to get back on track. Maybe it sounds dumb. Maybe it is dumb. But for now I’m enjoying the novelty.

Benefits over smart-watches

All that said, the disadvantages compared to a smart-watch are obvious. It has me wondering whether I’d enjoy an Apple Watch. If I could see notifications on my watch would that give me one more reason NOT to pull my phone out? Or would the smart-watch itself become an additional attention sink to rival the smartphone? Maybe one day I’ll find out, but for now, I’m happy with my basic CASIO.