Why I’m wearing a watch

I know plenty of people who don’t wear a watch. My wife doesn’t wear one. My father doesn’t wear one. My boss doesn’t wear one. Their reasons are usually quite similar: “I don’t need a watch, I can just look at time on my phone!” or “I’ll ask someone around me to tell me the time!”. For others, a watch is more of a fashion statement — something they wear as a jewel, not something functional. Those latter people may or may not wear their watch on any given day, but they won’t experience any inconvenience about it.

I’m not that kind of guy. Without a watch, I feel lost. I wear a watch pretty much every one of my waking hours. It’s in part because of my job — I go to client sites a lot, I have have to attend meetings and I travel around using public transportation very often, all activities that require keeping a good sense of time. I hate missing my train. I hate being late to client meetings (though it does happen more than I’d like). But that’s not all there is to it.

Knowing time is a tool I use a lot during meetings. It’s a way to help me respect other people’s time. Say a client told me “I have until 3:45”. 10 minutes from the end of the meeting, I might switch into “we’ve got 10 minutes left mode” and use that moment to ask the hard questions: “We have 10 minutes left. Based on what we’ve discussed so far, do you believe what I’ve shown you could be a good fit for your company?”. I can create a sense of urgency and improve my chances of getting straight-to-the-point answers.

A reliable sense of time has thus become an ingrained habit. Glancing at my watch is a reflex. It’s a way of quickly finding out “where do I stand right now? How much of the day do I still have ahead of me?”. When your job requires you to meet people a lot, you need a reliable way to know what time it is at any point during the day. You cannot depend on a third-party or on an accessory that might be out of reach just when you need it.

If I have one remark about the upcoming Apple Watch, it would be that I’m afraid it’s not going to be ruggedized enough. Will it stand my wrist bumping into doors while I’m moving around? Will it stand being put under the faucet while I wash my hands? Those are the questions I am concerned about. My watch is with me all the time, more exposed to the outside world than a phone or a tablet. To become truly personal, it will have to be able to accompany me whatever I’m doing, all day long. I have already lost or impaired several iPhones due to water exposure. Watches, not so much.

Wearing a watch is not optional for me. It’s an essential part of how I run my days. I’ll probably get the Apple Watch or the Whithings Activité when they’re released to the world. I’ll probably enjoy the built-in activity tracker, heart-rate sensor, maps and the ability to pay simply by extending my arm. But my watch sure as heck has to tell me time whenever I’m looking at it.