Watch the Watch: Aron Solomon’s Watch World, August 2017
Aka, the piece where I again tilt at the windmill of the smartwatch.
It’s impossible to make an argument that smartwatches aren’t selling. They are. And, yes, they dramatically outsell actual watches.
But pieces such as this miss the mark entirely. A Rolex, as in the clickbait-y example here, isn’t something mass produced. It’s not supposed to be on everyone’s wrist. In no way is it a volks-watch, in no way is it anything other than one of the highest levels of craft, of art, of the science of timekeeping.
Viewed through a historical lens, something like an Apple Watch is a magnificent thing. When you actually distance yourself from its proximity on your wrist and in our collective consciousness, you’re wearing an entire computer on your arm. You ARE Dick Tracy, James Bond, whomever you want to be.
But, and I’ve covered this many times before, which a smartwatch has a timekeeping function, it’s simply that – a wearable computer that can also (truly parenthetically) tell the time. Just as our phones, laptops, and desktops do.
A real watch has extremely few functions. Leaving behind slide rule watches; those watches that were built to measure fuel consumption for pilots; and even the ubiquitous chronograph, designed to measure the time of an event from a quick sprint to something hours longer; a watch tells you the time, usually regulated to the location where you find yourself at the moment.
So no one needs a watch in 2017, as that function is now itself ubiquitous. But the function argument is no more relevant to watches than it is to, say, drinking coffee at home. All you really need is one basic cup. You can get it at the dollar store. It will hold your coffee and facilitate your consumption thereof.
But it’s nice to drink from different cups. The experience of taking hot coffee from a small bone china cup is different from taking it from a paper cup, of a ceramic camp mug, or a colourful Kate Spade mug that says “Eat Cake for Breakfast.” Its about the experience, how to take it in, modify it to your evolving tastes, moods, and more.
Watch collectors, such as yours truly, never have one watch. Part of it is that we’re fully insane, but another part is that sometimes we want the experience of a large and heavy watch, sometimes a small and light watch, sometimes maybe something beautiful and rose gold, sometime maybe something totally stealthy and blacked-out. Each watch brings a different experience.
Wearing a smartwatch brings one experience and an almost limitless amount of features. It’s just not the same and never will be.