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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Watching my watches

On an early morning in 2006 when I was dressing to go to the hospital and have my prostate removed, I took off my watch. Ever since the mid-1960s, I had worn a watch day and night, unless I was in the water. Watches had come and gone... starting with a cheap Timex, later a Bulova Accutron (remember the tuning fork?) that my parents gave me when I turned 21, and eventually returning to a Timex. The Accutron set off metal detectors in airports, so it had to go. The series of Timex's that I replaced it with -- all bought at K-Mart -- would do two time zones. That's a real convenience when I was traveling overseas so often.

After I came home from the hospital, though, I didn't put my watch back on. Like many people, by that point I was carrying around a cellphone all the time. The watch seemed utterly useless. Into the dresser it went.

Now that I'm traveling overseas again, I have found the watch. I wear it while traveling, but I take it off when I return home. It's hard to find anyone wearing a watch these days, unless they're sending a message by showing off a Rolex, a Tag Heuer, or a Breitling. I can't imagine myself doing that, even if I won the PowerBall tonight.

The low-end and mid-range of the watch business, which had thrived until the late 1990s, has been devastated. Here's an indication, however, that product managers are trying to figure out how to keep watches relevant. Will they succeed? It's an uphill climb. One interesting feature, though, is "the ability to locate a misplaced phone by activating the alarm and vibration functions of a smartphone from a button-press on the watch." There are moments when that would help!