Somewhere between the shackles of Kunta Kinte and the two-way wristwatch of Dick Tracy, there must be something appropriate for my wrist. I just haven’t found it yet.
I stopped wearing a wristwatch a few months ago. It was one of those impulsive decisions that I’d been considering for weeks. Time seems to find me well enough without my giving it a place to perch on my arm. There is a clock on the computer, one in the car, one on the cell phone, and one on the iPod.
Initially, my time without a watch worked fine initially. I liked not having something on my wrist. I liked having one less thing, after my wallet and keys, to think about putting in its place when I went out.
But other times being without one ticked me off: playing poker, hiking, greeting at church. I also discovered that substituting a cell phone for a watch requires that there actually be cell phone service when you want to know what time it is. Those of us still campaigning for phones that simply make and receive calls, as opposed to taking pictures and running blood tests, know that uninterrupted cell phone service is, like Bigfoot and Wall Street financial propriety, a myth.
So I suffered a relapse and bought another watch. I’ve never needed to have the timepiece equivalent of a BMW on my wrist, but I do like to have the day-and-date display so I know where I am on the calendar. There’s a little watch sales-and-repair shop in the neighborhood, and the proprietor had always been wonderful about showing me how to figure out the intricacies of an old pocket watch my father gave me. I bought another wristwatch — the brand of which shall remain nameless — which turned out to be a huge mistake.
For one thing, instead of a battery, this watch theoretically wound itself by the ordinary movement of your hand throughout the day. This is exactly the wrong kind of watch for someone who hasn’t been wearing a watch for weeks, and who only needs it for specific occasions. If you don’t wear this kind of watch constantly, it runs down … constantly.
The second problem was that it had a plastic backing, so you could see that the mechanism within was running. I wasn’t quite sure of the design philosophy behind this, but it also turned out that when you did perform vigorous activities while wearing the watch, such as riding a bicycle, the plastic back would fall off. This seemed wholly counterproductive. You had to keep the watch moving to keep it running, but when you did, you were in danger of losing the cover that kept the mechanism clean.
I took it back to the watch shop. The proprietor happily glued the plastic cover back on. But by the time I got home, the glue had seeped into the mechanism and it was clear that time was up for that silly watch. Like a tarnished politician, it never ran again.
Problem solved. I threw it away and haven’t had a second thought about wearing one since.