I have four watches.
The first is the one my grandmother gave me when I was about ten years old, a 1960’s veteran Smiths with a classic face, mechanical movement made in Wales, and a brown leather strap. The sort of watch you see in children’s book illustrations for the Famous Five or Secret Seven. The crown adjusted the time, and wound the movement.
The second is a stainless steel Omega that my father bought duty-free in Panama in December 1969 and gave me as a present for that Christmas. It had the “perpetual” self-winding movement, and the crown had two positions when pulled out, one to change the date and the other to change the time. That watch was on my wrist for twenty-one years until my 40th birthday in 1990, when my wife bought me a Rado. I wear the Rado daily today.
My fourth watch was my father’s. It’s a gold Omega Constellation that my mother bought him in Venezuela when he was posted there working for Shell in 1955. I still have the original box, receipt and guarantee. I wear it on special occasions, and on the anniversary of my father’s death.
Apple have launched their Watch… and no, I won’t be buying one. It’s a lovely piece of kit, of course it is, does all sorts of things beautifully, has the ingenious amazingly simple DigItal Crown, but no, a watch means something else for me, as I suspect it does for millions of other baby-boomers of my generation, and other “pre-digitals agers”. We feel faintly ridiculous wearing anything on our wrists other that something that tells the time, and perhaps the date. Depending on our circumstances, it could be a Citizen, Tissot, Rolex or Patek-Philippe, but they all do the same thing: they tell the time. And they share another quality, they are intensely personal items that can accrue huge emotional value.
Apple have one thing right. A watch is more than just telling the time, it’s a very personal statement. But while I can see my Smiths, Omegas and Rado being handed down to grandchildren, I cannot help thinking that the Apple Watch is a piece of fashion IT that could potentially go the way of the Newton.
Time will tell.