Why I'm Buying a Watch

Mike Halsey MVP
Mar 26, 2012
Updated • Dec 4, 2012

Back in my youth I sat at home with a ZX Spectrum dreaming of the day I might one day be able to carry a computer around with me.  A few short years later and there I am with a Psion Organiser II, then a Series 3 (several of them in fact) and a Psion Series 5... Suffice to say I was a fan.  Mobile computing was fantastic but wouldn't it be brilliant if I could also have a phone when out and about so that I could call people.  Then I got my first mobile phone, complete with the offer of "all calls, all weekend, every weekend for a year for free".  This, I discovered included International calls and just about everything else too.  For some reason Cellnet in the UK never repeated the offer!

So armed with a Psion and a Mobile Phone I then wanted to be able to send messages and emails from my Psion the way I could with the desktop computers at college.  It took some time that one passing through my first laptop along the way and we still had to invent WiFi.

Now all my childhood dreams have been realised.  I have a Windows Phone from which I can message and email to my heart's delight, a laptop containing both WiFi and a SIM card so I'm never away from a data connection when I don't want to be, and a powerful desktop PC at home for everything else.  You might think then that I'd be ecstatically happy and over the moon to have all these opportunities, or that perhaps I'd be looking to the next big thing, like a Satellite phone or 4G.  Well think again because the whole lot has made me utterly miserable and I'm buying a watch.

Like many of you I live a working and home life of ICT.  It's everywhere, I have to work on my laptop during the day writing Windows 8 books, when I'm relaxing I'll either sit at my Windows 7 desktop PC or lounge around on the sofa with my Blackberry Playbook tablet.  When I'm out walking the dog I can stay in touch using my smartphone.  On top of this I'm currently testing two more laptops, an ultrabook and a 3D Gaming laptop (reviews to come here soon), both from Samsung.  In short, it doesn't matter where I look or where I go I can't get away from technology.

The dream I wished for as a youngster has become a curse of always on, always connected availability.  There's no getting away from work, no getting away from technology and the first thing I see every day is an email from Groupon.

So then, the best advice surely is to go out down the pub, don't mind if I do, thanks for the offer, I'll have a Bitburger please, and leave the smartphone at home.  This of course presents another problem and highlights one of the most common uses for mobile phones these days.  We might use them 20% of the time for making calls and 30% of the time for checking email or browsing the web, but we use them the other 50% of the time to see what time of day it is.  Yup, smartphones long ago became clock and watch replacements, in fact I don't actually have a single clock in my home (other than the one that's sitting in the spare room in a box) and consequently didn't have to worry about putting anything forward yesterday morning for summer time.

I'm not the only person feeling this, it's a growing problem facing society.  Technology fatigue manifests itself in many ways, commonly as being unable to escape from work and from the boss.  There's just no getting away from it unless you shy away from the technology we all know and love and start to think more like the little old ladies we all thought were a little bit crazy for being completely uninterested in getting online.

So I'm going to buy myself a watch.  My birthday's coming up and it will be a special treat.  It means I will finally be able to leave the smartphone at home, and the laptop, and the tablet, and go out into the big wide world not knowing or caring who the hell wants to get my attention and why.  Will I miss anything urgent?  Have a think about the last time someone contacted you about something genuinely urgent for the answer to that question.  We all need a break from technology fatigue, and I'm about to get mine.

What do you think about escaping from technology and the Internet?  Do you already do it?  Why not tell us in the comments below.


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  1. Tom said on March 29, 2012 at 7:42 am

    Connectivity overload. I suffer from that since like others I have a job that involves whole day of computer work, then checking email at home. I have 5 watches, the old style with hands and numbers and can even see the guts of it. I wore a watch since I was 5yo every day and can’t do without it. I also dreamed of having ZX Spectrum when they were first announced.

    I am fortunate to have a nice backyard to decompress. Not one device other than a watering can out there. Not even sensor light.

  2. allinthefamily said on March 28, 2012 at 1:18 am

    Best of luck with this small step towards sanity. Leaving behind devices you are used to can feel like jumping into water and expecting to breath. I had an iPod Touch that I used ALL the time, for all kinds of stuff. I gave it to my wife with instructions not to let me borrow it. I bought a Moleskine for jotting and calendaring. After the first week of reflexively reaching for my iPod the moment I woke up, I have been glad to get that out of my life.

    Pretty quick you will enjoy your watch-only time.

    As you get a chance to think of both work and non-work related things, get a pocket-sized Moleskine to jot down ideas. And sometimes, once you adjust, leave the watch behind too!

  3. Gonzo said on March 28, 2012 at 1:02 am

    I wear a watch more as male jewelry. It looks nice when I dress professionally. I once wore it for about a week without a working battery! ;-)

    However, if I’m in a server closet I can’t risk the possibility of arching and so it’s not an everyday item.

    Like fokka does, when I don’t want to be disturbed I place my smartphone in airplane mode or set an auto response. Not a big deal.

  4. Theresa said on March 27, 2012 at 4:52 pm

    Little old lady :D

  5. kalmly said on March 27, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    :) When I was looking for a new watch, my son said: “Mom, nobody uses a watch anymore.”

    That was news to me. I like watches. I don’t have to dig them out to see what time it is. Besides, I like the way they look.

    BUT then, I use my cell to make phone calls. :)

  6. Anand said on March 27, 2012 at 11:30 am

    I am a programmer by profession. I need and have internet connection both at office and home. My phone works as watch and secretary.

    But when I reach home. I put my phone on another room. The computer and TV remains off. We sit together and talk about ourselves; and just cuddle near each other and relax.

    I find this most effective way to rejuvenate in my life. It also keeps my family happy.



  7. Onno said on March 27, 2012 at 9:12 am

    You´re so right, Mike! But why don´t you save yoursef this makeshift and do the next step to freedom at once. Who really needs a watch?

  8. Redbad said on March 26, 2012 at 9:54 pm

    When some one wearing The Latest Smart Thing on their belt asks me for the time, it is great fun is to look at my watch and give them a reading that’s off by 30 minutes.

    Mike, make sure your new watch is a mechanical auto-wind-up type. You want to avoid the pleasure of finding a merchant who will replace the battery for less than $25. Or if you want to do it yourself, find the one you need from the selection of the 85000 “watch batteries” in existence. That’s if you can figure out how to open the watch. Pry, twist, snap – front bezel, rear cap?? And if you know how to find the PCB pad which needs to be shorted to the battery’s case momentarily to reset the watch. If you have the special tool, of course. (Tip: a small fine point tweezers will work.) Remember that watch battery life as advertised is like that for laptops…

  9. Peter said on March 26, 2012 at 9:49 pm

    One of the big reasons why I stopped wearing a watch is because it clanks on the desk/laptop when you type. …besides the constant pinching/grabbing of wrist skin/hair.

  10. Genious said on March 26, 2012 at 9:13 pm
  11. Roman ShaRP said on March 26, 2012 at 8:04 pm

    I don’t have Internet connections always on on my phone, so I don’t get work e-mail there.

    My team lead is my friend, so he never calls me when there is no need.

    In contrast, I feel more passion about technology, then fatigue. I’m technology fan since my 5, in 1982, and I still didn’t get enough of it.

    But I have a watch too, and thinking about buying one more, if they fit me better.

    1. Roman ShaRP said on March 26, 2012 at 8:58 pm

      Oops. “I feel more passion about technology, thAn fatigue”

      Sorry for mistakes 0:-)

  12. Lyle said on March 26, 2012 at 6:59 pm

    A couple times a year my wife and I will go away on a weekend together – with ZERO technology. We leave our phones at home and give our hotel number to whomever is watching the kids. We don’t even turn on a TV, and usually don’t turn on a radio either. IT’S FANTASTIC! We read books, play board games, go out to eat etc. with no blinking, beeping, facebook status-ing etc. to distract us!

    The watch idea is a good one – I’ve gone so far as to carry a pocket-watch at times but then I still have my work phone too, so I’ve given that up. Good luck to you – enjoy the watch (and no bluetoothing, connected type watch either – go old school analog with sweeping hands etc.!)

  13. Scott said on March 26, 2012 at 6:42 pm

    This is hilarious. But then, I’m old (53). Going out into the world without a technological tether seems to scare the _hit out of young people. Even thinking you have to have a watch with you at all times is a crutch. We learned to estimate the time. If we needed more precision, we used to either look around for a clock or point to our wrist while asking someone around us what time it was. We told time in five-minute increments, or even fifteen-minute increments, not one-minute increments. The answers we got when asking what time it was were “a quarter after,” or “ten ’til,” not “seven forty-two.” Will it matter to anyone if the time is seven forty-two instead of seven forty-one? If so, then time is being over-managed. In our cars, we just turned on the AM radio to the local news station “with traffic and weather every ten minutes,” or looked around for a clock while driving. The constant connection offers no real advantage. Nothing important will be missed while you walk your dog or eat lunch out without some data connection to the Net. I can’t believe this even needs to be said.

  14. Aa said on March 26, 2012 at 6:00 pm

    I always wear a watch. It brings back many (good/bad) old memories when I look at it. It is not easily replaceable as cellphones, pc, tablets, etc.

    Adjusting the time on the wall clock is a good thing. It reminds me to check the smoke dectector batteries, check the a/c unit, check the airways, and other things that need to be done/check once in a while.

    If anyone wants to have some useful skills, Home Depot (in this case) offers free “do-it-yourself” classes on weekends. It’s a good opportunity to get hand-on experience.

    Happy birthday!

  15. Jon said on March 26, 2012 at 5:54 pm

    Not only can I respect this move, but it makes me want to do the same. My phone is almost part of my body these days. It would be good to leave it at home and get out and play some tennis or something. I already have the watch, and it’s not even digital.

  16. fokka said on March 26, 2012 at 5:53 pm

    why not just use your phone in airplane-mode?

  17. Martin Brinkmann said on March 26, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    While I was never a watch-wearer to begin with, except for my first watch after Kindergarten, I tend to use my phone quite often to look at the time.

    I personally cannot really escape from the Internet for a longer period of time, as it is my job and all. If that would not be the case, I would not have a problem staying absent for a longer period of time.

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