A Pebble in Time
If anyone knows about Pebble Technology, the small smartwatch company that competed against other smartwatch corporations, they will probably know that the Classic, their first smartwatch, nabbed over $10 million dollars on its Kickstarter campaign. This was the highest amount of profit any campaign saw at that time, since Kickstarter was starting to become a relevant means for crowdfunding. And Pebble sold its millionth smartwatch in December 2014. Because of its niche price, nice capabilities and dedicated developer base (and crappy support for Apple — thanks a lot, Apple), Pebble became well known as a company itself.
To follow this up, Pebble released Time, their second-gen smartwatch that was the first smartwatch they produced to have an always-on, color e-paper display with an LED backlight and introduced new features, including Timeline. It even broke their own record, raising $20.3 M off of its Kickstarter campaign; double the amount of the Classic. And this is what I wanted for so long, I even bugged my mom about it. Eventually, after a couple of months or years, I got it. For Christmas two years ago, I received the Time in white as a gift, alongside a pair of Sol Republic headphones that I still have to this day (although the cables keep breaking, goddamnit).
The Time is the only smartwatch I ever got. And I loved that smartwatch beyond any other watch I had (which was considerably not a lot). To give it perspective, it endured a lot of scratches to its Gorilla Glass front and the watchband even got stained yellow from the prolonged use I had it on for. I even got a tan-line from it! Yet, I loved the absolute fuck out of it. That smartwatch was the best gift out of any other Christmas I ever had. That’s how much I loved it and that’s saying a lot from me.
I kept up with Pebble pretty much all the time. I occasionally checked their YouTube channel, which they updated with pretty consistently. I also kept in touch with their blog (My god, Eric was such a lively fellow), which was updated every single time a new update came out for the Time and the Classic, as well as the Steel (the steel version of the Classic no one ever talks about). I made sure to update the poor guy every time an update was released. And being the autistic/ADHD I am, I would constantly look at the progress until it reached 100%. No matter how hard I tried, almost all of the time (or all of the time, really), I was looking at the progress. I made sure to charge it as well, but I never always did it. Sometimes, it died on me in school (RIP time). Whenever it went into emergency mode (which was quite often), I would make sure to painfully reconfigure it so it would work again. Whenever Bluetooth failed, I made sure to painfully reset it so it would work again. When something didn’t work and I didn’t know how to fix it, I would consult Pebble’s loyal support website. And everything would be normal, until something happened again.
I also had a ton of watchfaces on there and I would switch to one and stick to it. My favorite was a Tetris watchface that whenever I went back to the time from the menu (it ran apps that I got from its app store, such as a timer and a stopwatch), the tetrominoes would fall from the top of the screen and arrange themselves into the shape of the time. Whenever a new minute or hour appeared, the digits would disappear and the cycle would begin again.
Until at the end of 2016, in December, Pebble announced it would shut down as a company due to insolvency and most of its intellectual property would go to Fitbit. It’s highly anticipated Pebble 2 and the SE, Time 2, Time Steel 2 (yes, there was a Steel variant of the Time) and the Time Round 2 (yes, there was also a rounded variant of the Time, but not the Classic) were cancelled. The Pebble 2, however, was shipped before the shutting down.
After that announcement, I decided to stop using it. I shut it off and stopped wearing it, but it has never left my mind. It is packed in my room to this day, even though it’s probably like six feet under one. I have the cable somewhere. Once I find it, I’ll see if I can install the last update. Fitbit is allegedly keeping Pebble up and running until the end of 2017. Because the Pebble’s are connected to the phone, which — in turn — is keeping the Pebble’s apps running through data, the last update made them independent by cutting all cloud connections and making it run endlessly. So if Fitbit’s still there for me, if I’m not lazy, I’ll update it and that’ll be it. Maybe I’ll wear it again.
I remember my first encounter with a Pebble. I was a Scout at my local Scout church, when one day I went to the STEM day Raytheon was having for Scouts. One of the guys there had a Pebble. Being the autistic I am, I was immediately fascinated by the Classic. I remember distinctly that it was a black Classic, worn on the guy’s left arm. And that’s where it started.
It was sad to see Pebble go, for sure. But I still hold the Time to my heart. Despite its flaws, its tobacco stains, its scratched glass and its crappy Apple support (My god, Apple), it is truly timeless.