10 Places Where Wearing a Watch Beats Checking a Phone


One of our loyal readers recently sent me an article about how some people now wear watches solely as jewelry and don’t even bother to set the time since they now rely on their cell phones for that. Well, as an employee of WatchTime, that idea surely burns my biscuits, so I got to thinking about all the places and situations in which wearing a watch is the superior choice to glancing at a phone, and came up with the following Top 10 list.

1. On a crowded train or plane. New Jersey rail commuter that I am, there are few things that bother me more then catching an elbow to the ribs as some guy digs in his pocket for a phone to check if he is going to be late to work that morning. With a simple flick of my wrist — clad in something slick like the Hamilton Ventura below — I can show him a touch of style and class, and also check the time, without bruising him in the process.

 

Hamilton Ventura Elvis80

2. At the Movies. Before every movie, theaters run an entire public service announcement telling patrons not to be annoying with their cell phones and ruin the movie for those around you. Me, all I have to do is glance down at a well-lumed watch like the Bell & Ross BR 03-92 model below and voilà — I know how much time before the movie starts without generating ill will and evil stares.

Bell & Ross BR03-92 - NIGHTLUM - night

3. In places of religious worship. No matter where you worship, nobody likes to see someone staring at a glowing cell phone screen in a sacred place, but a quick glance down my arm lets me know the time without being disrespectful to any deities. (And if the watch on that wrist happens to be a really lovely one like the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso below, I’ll know my deity is smiling on me.)

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso - Lake Geneva Mont Blanc

4. In business meetings. First and foremost, no boss wants to see you looking at your phone and ignoring slide #343 of their sales projection PowerPoint. Plus, a classic wristwatch is a great way to show potential clients you are a discerning and successful person and not some schlub fresh off the turnip truck.  Discreetly showing some classic wristwear, like the A. Lange & Söhne tourbillon below, is a lot easier than asking everyone to go to over to the window to check out the great parking spot you got for your Ferrari, right?

A. Lange & Sohne 1815 Tourbillon - Enamel dial CU

5. At the Beach. In the summer I’m often “down the shore” (as we say in Jersey) and have watched more than one “rogue wave” swamp someone’s beach bag. Unless you have a bag of rice handy, that could be the end of your phone. High tide catching you napping isn’t a problem with a good diver, like the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms below, strapped to your wrist. Plus I can use the bezel to keep track of the 7.5 minutes of sun exposure I can withstand before my pasty skin fries to pork-rind-like crispiness.

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Automatique

6.  On a date. I’m way past worrying about this one, but pulling out your phone constantly on a date doesn’t give the impression that you’re on the verge of making a love connection. So on your first date, you can choose either to look like a suave and sophisticated secret agent (like our Omega-wearing friend below) checking their mission timer before the final showdown with a super-villain or a twitchy, Instagram-addicted nerd uninterested in your soon-to-be-ex-partner. The choice is entirely yours — because the choice to go on a second date is entirely theirs.

omega james bond

7. At your kid’s sporting events.  You glance down at your wrist-borne chronograph — like the one below, from Oris — and note that 29 minutes have ticked off the 30 minutes in the half as you watch your kid break away and kick the game-winning goal right before the whistle — or you stand there desperately wrestling to get your phone out of your pocket and then drop it, missing your kid’s greatest sports highlight and cracking your screen, thus costing you $100 in repairs, to boot.

8. While driving. Cops won’t pull you over for glancing at your wrist, but just let them see that phone and Bingo — collect a ticket for distracted driving, do not pass Go, do not collect a $200 discount on the watch of your dreams. And if you happen to be driving on the Autobahn, perhaps wearing the Nomos watch named after it (below), you probably won’t get pulled over at all.

9. During a dive. When you’re a hundred feet down in murky water and you look down to find your fancy dive computer is showing you something that looks like this — (&(%*&^%$%$&^ — what are you going to do, pull out an iPhone or Samsung out of your flippers? Smart divers always back up their computer with a solid dive watch, like the Seiko shown here, that is set before they hit the water.

10. During any rugged activity. Do you work with your hands, fix cars, whitewater raft, play paintball, ride horses, run, mountain bike, surf, ski, sail, golf, skeet shoot, ride a motorcycle, lift weights, hunt, wakeboard, play polo, play badminton, play ping pong, play chess — you know, live life? If your answer is “yes,” then ask yourself if you really want to be fumbling for a phone and dedicating one hand to holding it or if you’d rather peek at your wrist and attend to the task at hand? (The Citizen pictured here will even keep recharging itself under the sun during outdoor activities while your phone’s battery will just keep slowly dying.)  If the answer to all of the above is “no,” feel free to keep watching the minutes tick by on that glowing blue block of soulless tech in your hand.

Citizen U.S. Open Timepiece

Anywhere I’ve missed? Please feel free to add your own thoughts in the comments section below.

69 Responses to “10 Places Where Wearing a Watch Beats Checking a Phone”

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  1. RE:”And if the watch on that wrist happens to be a really lovely one like the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso below, I’ll know my deity is smiling on me.”

    This is why most people think watch snobs are a bunch of materialistic tools.

    Reply
    • Well I’d say I’d know he ain’t frowning on me at least….

      Reply
    • Stealth Bling is a brilliant term…never heard it before but it is perfect for some brands that pop to a fellow collector but not because they are full of sparkly bits and 50mm

      Reply
  2. Very good indeed. I can’t think of any to add and I love your choices. .Personally I am never without a watch. Oh, I can think of one place. Perhaps in bed, one with a great lume. This way one can discreetly determine whether or not it is too early to nudge the wife.

    Reply
    • Hi Tom & Raymond, You both had the same thought and it is a good one. I’m a terrible sleeper and they say one of the worst things you can do when trying to go to sleep or get back to sleep is look at bright screens…

      Reply
  3. Panos Lambis

    Horse riding, camping, potholing, climbing and driving, in fact any activity that demands your attention.

    Reply
    • Hey Panos, Thanks for reading it and taking the time to comment. Yup in a nutshell a quick glance at a watch is safer and easier for me whenever I’m actually doing something active, which I will admit is less and less these days….

      Reply
  4. TOM WIGGANS

    In bed…don’t like to be awoken by a bright screen, but trust my Luminox to always be visible.

    Reply
    • Hi Young, Great comment one I never would’ve thought of……

      Reply
  5. Rae Jones

    I totally agree… looking at the phone at some places is really very disrespectful and awkward. I have recently bought a beautiful watch from [URL removed] and I love wearing it outside as a fashionable item as well as to look time.

    Reply
  6. On the golf course. I have played in certain competitions where phones are not allowed to be switched on. My chosen watch for this activity is something like my Seiko SKX007 or a suitably robust equivalent. Not sure I would dare wear a Lange though. It’s fast becoming one of very few places where peoples faces are not buried into a screen, but, as can be seen all over the world, it is slowly happening everywhere. Great article by the way and very amusing.

    Reply
    • Stephen Brown

      Hi Peter,

      Great example! I didn’t know there were tournaments that banned phones but I’m stricly a putt putt mini golfer trying to work his way up to the pitch and putt one day.
      I swear we’re going to evolve with a third eye on our foreheads, so we can keep our original two eyes glued to our phones and the third one on the real world.

      Thanks for the kind words and for taking the time to drop us a note.

      Cheers,

      Steve

      Reply
  7. Great article.
    I’m in my 50s and can’t read without my glasses. However I don’t walk around with my glasses on. A quick glance at my favorite watch, a 1981 Seiko 6309 turtle and I can easily see the time
    Thanks

    Reply
    • Stephen Brown

      Hi Rob,

      I’m hitting the middle 50’s and love a big clean dialed easily legible diver too. No worries about glare or seeking a shadow to read the time outside and no need to fumble around in the dark to find it either. Cheers, Steve

      Reply
  8. Great article. Between the 10 and comments i think everything is pretty well covered. Also in crowded places where there are many pick pockets. It’s good to have a watch instead of leaving a perfect target for a snatch and run like a cellphone. I also like to have a watch at parties/dinners because looking at your watch usually brings eyes to your watch and can be s good conversation starter. So i guess you could add picking up on the opposite sex!

    Reply
    • Stephen Brown

      Thanks Bear ……… for the nice words but you are stealing my fire with your last comment as you are starting to write my follow up article for me……..

      Cheers,

      Reply
  9. Hiking out in the woods where cell towers are scarce or you may not want to constantly be reaching into your backpack to get your phone. Or how about while you’re out on a boat at the lake.

    Reply
    • Stephen Brown

      Hey Ed,

      Climbed Mount Monadnock this weekend and spent a lot of time looking at the words “No Service” on my phone……So yeah…plus I never had to stumble around the campsite trying to find the watch on my wrist……

      Reply
  10. Lawrence Dauch

    I am an ardent watch collector. My favorite watch of all time is Lange. I have had lots of Patel’s.
    But what is giving watch people competition is the Apple Watch. I can look at time. It is light weight doesn’t slide down, on my arm I can take a phone call with out I phone. I can check messages etc
    Quite an invention. This is not a good time for luxury watches.

    Reply
    • Stephen Brown

      Hey Lawrence,

      Not going to argue that the cell phone is not an amazing invention with tons of uses now and future uses being developed every moment….BUT I will argue and have argued that there are places where it doesn’t function as well as a watch. Thanks for jumping in the conversation. Oh and tighten up your strap or bracelet and you won’t have those nice watches sliding about….

      Reply
  11. Colin Perkins

    Standing in the middle of a trout stream or Salmon river knowing you need to go but want to have that one last cast – sure fire thing if dumbling aboutcwith a phone is to drop it in the water…actually, than again you might be able to have a few more casts and trutcon instinct! I always have my Sea Dweller 4000 to hand mind you! Great article and some good feedback too!

    Reply
    • Stephen Brown

      Hi Colin, May the biggest fattest rainbows always rise to your fly.

      Cheers,

      Reply
  12. How about: everywhere! The wristwatch replaced the pocketwatch because a flick of the wrist is easier and more efficient than fumbling for a pocketwatch, pressing a button to open it, look at the time , close it and then put it back in your pocket. With cellphones people have gone back to the day of the pocketwatch. They think they are modern but they are actually performing a much older ritual ….

    Reply
    • Stephen Brown

      Hi RalfV, Now that is a unique and cool perspective on this topic. Thanks for sharing.

      Reply
    • Oh my gosh, I was just swaying this say thing just days ago. The pocket watch has been reformatted with the phone and camera into a clunky bulky grotesque in your pocket. As if Ron Popiel had a hand in its invention.

      Reply
      • Stephen Brown

        Hi Wil, yeah I often find myself shifting the darn phone, and mine is a pretty small one around or struggling to get it out of the front pocket of my jeans……Of and I’ve never sat on my watch and cracked it but know a few ladies who back pocket their phones and have heard a crunch when sitting down. Thanks for reading and commenting. Cheers, Steve

        Reply
  13. Tom Everett

    In a movie theater or at a play, the tritium indices on my Ball watch give me clear time. On the motorcycle, the clarity of the script make it about the best for a quick glance on a tight mountain road. The model is the Trainmaster 60 seconds and the font is very readable. Nice article.

    Reply
    • Stephen Brown

      Thanks Tom, Ball is famous for the lume and I just spent a weekend in New Hampshire camping which sure proves that lume is an important aspect of a good watch….

      Reply
  14. Bastiaan

    That moment when somebody askes what time or date it is, everyone fumbles in their pockets for their phone. With a quick flip of the wrist you look at that other, more elegant piece of technology and reply before the first lumonescent light pops up in the room.

    Reply
    • Stephen Brown

      Hi Bastiaan.

      Old guys like me call that move the “Quick Draw McGraw. Thanks for reading it and taking the time to drop us the comment too.

      Cheers,

      Reply
  15. Dave DuBrow

    A highly enjoyable report. Discerning people choose a timepiece which makes a non-verbal statement. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Stephen Brown

      Hi Dave,

      The non-verbal statement aspect is going to be talked about in a follow up if I get my butt in gear and start typing.

      Thanks for reading it and for taking the time to leave your kind words….Oh and I am curious if you are a DJ?

      Reply
  16. Andreas Ahrens

    Absulotely! Love! This! Article!

    Thank you Stephen! This is the kind of read we watch nerds long for. And you have convincingly demonstrated that you are one of us.

    Of course we count on you as our source for news. But we even more enjoy to just be entertained this way.

    And my addition: Imagine while boarding a plane you have the chance to get a glimpse of the inside of the cockpit. And there you see the captain … with a smart phone in his hand?! You would try to change your flight! That guy will play some silly game instead of taking care of taking you home safely!

    And now imagine a captain taking a look on a super cool pilot watch. Yeah! That’s the kind of pilot you want! This guy has got style. And he makes us understand the girls we remember from the former Breitling ads. And he is even taking care of taking us home on-time and the professional way!

    Reply
    • Stephen Brown

      Hi Andreas,

      For sure I want my pilot wearing a superb piece of horological engineering on his wrist while he steers a super cool piece of aviation engineering safely to my destination, not playing candy crush mid-turbulence.

      Thanks for the kind words and taking the time to post a great comment too.

      Reply
    • Stephen Brown

      Hi Marco,

      Thanks for the kind words and for taking the time to read our stuff.

      Cheers,

      Reply
  17. Pierre Mullin

    11. On a plane – esp. with a GMT. Actually, while travelling on long trips in general, when roaming phones often burn through their charge before dinner time.

    Reply
    • Stephen Brown

      Hi Pierre,

      Perfect example for this piece. I have never spent a sweaty fearful flight watching the battery indicator on my watch quickly heading to total failure.

      Cheers,

      Reply
  18. Hi Stephen, very nice article – thank you.
    I’m a juggler, say no more.

    Reply
    • Stephen Brown

      Hi Kerry,

      A real juggler with like balls and chainsaws or a phone juggler when you need to check the time?
      Either way thanks for the kind words.

      Reply
  19. Jeff Sydel

    At the doctors office during a physical exam.
    Having your phone on is just rude. Only a gentleman would look at his watch to see the time.

    Reply
    • Stephen Brown

      Hi Jeff,

      Another great addition to the list and definitely a time I want to know how long I’ve been there and how soon I can leave without being rude….

      Reply
  20. Larry P

    11. Where phones are forbidden. Many thousands of folks worldwide work daily in parts of embassies, government buildings, and research facilities where phones are not allowed. In some facilities wristwatches are the only means of telling time — Subs, Seamasters, and other autos are not uncommon. These may be a few of the last humans in history to actually need watches, eh?

    Also, some public factory or facility tours forbid recording devices by keeping them outside, out of sight, or actually bagging them during the tour.

    Reply
    • Stephen Brown

      Hi Larry,

      Yup great addition to the list that I never would have thought of on my own. In those places you have to have a Dick Tracy or Maxwell Smart type watch to do a little industrial espionage….

      Reply
  21. Jim Burns

    How about at an event (could be anything…party, play, seminar, etc… where you are supposed to be paying attention) that you really do not want to be in attendance, however your attending because your wife (husband) asked you to attend and you want to check the time because the big game is starting or more importantly ending soon and you do not want to annoy your spouse as if you wish you were not there…this happens to me and I kindly excuse myself when it is time to go to the restroom to then go to my smart phone for an update.

    Reply
    • Stephen Brown

      Hi Jim,

      Excellent addition….maybe I should have shot for 20 places instead of 10……As a Minnesota Viking fan I would hate to miss my team flaming out in another soul crushing playoff loss… Skol!

      Reply
  22. Richard Edwards

    Not certain about your choice for No.4. If I could afford a A. Lange & Söhne tourbillon, I’d be retired and not bothering with business meetings.

    Reply
    • Stephen Brown

      Good point Rich but it had to be an impressive watch for that example and you have to admit that is one impressive timepiece.

      Reply
  23. Randy Rogers

    Though the choices of Timepieces may be subjective, the opportunity and reality are correct. Regardless of how one personally feels about the ubiquitous and homogenously designed tool, that is the Cellphone, where it belongs and where we can certainly survive without in tucked safely in ones grasp can become annoying and of bad etiquette, the Timepiece represents personal choice, a remembrance of how much someone cares for you, or, quite simply, what one thinks of themselves, be it Adventurer (the compact but classic TAG-Heuer Super 2000 SS w/18k Capstans on the Uni-Directional Bezel, Black Dial w/Cognac Leather), Tailored and Classic (Ebel Lichine, SS, Black Dialed 3 Register ‘PR-DD’ w, Aubergine Shark), a Color Coordinated accessory (Yellow Dialed ‘Tiger’ Tudor, SS Cyclops, Bi-Directional Black Bezel with Yellow Shark or Yellow Rubber Strap), to the Stealth Dynamism of the Raymond Weil Reveluzione Chrono, in all Black, Carbon-Fiber, SS/Titanium and Croc patterned Strap), or the ‘Big Night-Big Day’, TAG-Heuer 6000 18K, Case and Bracelet Lapis Blue Dial, the weight imbuing confidence, the totally unique Bracelet identifying the Timepiece across the room). This is what a Timepiece is, it identifies the Individual who he or she are, or, think they are, but it is them, personally, Sadly in a world of Group-think, mistakes, omissions trickle down, the ego that is the Swiss or Japanese Watch Industry have made mistakes before, and sometimes without free-thinking, are re-committed, The SMART Train, was no different than 1979 and Quartz, but young Hayek wasn’t there then and no one in his cadre has the metal to stand-up. The Japanese recently were all ecstatic about Timepieces that self correct to any of 83 Time-Zones world-wide, except one must in be sunlight, (the store doesn’t work, the plane doesn’t work) and a somewhat complicated for the average consumer exercise of referencing a Register and winding hands to a certain place to correct to the new time zone, seems rather, but Why?, when a 3-Hand Cal. with knowledge of where one is going is pretty straightforward, a GMT, makes even easier with anticipation, but yet in the time it takes to go through this exercise of re-setting, as one’s plane is landing in Ulaanbaatar, Diego Garcia or Vatican City, that homogenized tool that has been crying to get out of one’s pocket for 5 hours +, will upon being turned on have with-in 2 seconds the correct time in your position on the planet, so there is added purpose and function, but hardly Individuality!

    Reply
    • Stephen Brown

      Hi Alexander- Thanks for the nice comment. I actually kind of thought people would rip me on the driving one since most cars have clocks on the dashboard these days…Now motorcycling is a bit of a different animal and I probably should’ve gone with that in hindsight.

      Reply
  24. Patrick Clark

    How about during sex, checking your phone would be obvious and rude whereas talking a peek at your watch might go unnoticed by your partner.

    Reply
  25. Andrew B Simmons

    When I want a connection to the past and am sick of modern-day technology!

    Reply
  26. Sean A Torres Sr

    Also while at the gym, on the treadmill or at a spin class etc

    Reply
    • Stephen Brown

      Hey Sean,

      Exactly……a quick glance at your wrist beats dropping your phone and watching it shoot off the treadmill and across the gym floor.

      Reply
  27. Best article in a long time. Especially at religious services. It is rude and obnoxous to go smartphone in a place of worship. Oh art thou a watch user.

    Reply
    • Stephen Brown

      Hey Kivis,

      Thanks for the kind words and for a nice chuckle at the end

      Reply
  28. During sex: easier to keep your watch at your wrist and check time, either to measure your performance or either to measure how boring it is. In any case much better than finding your phone left in the pocket of your abandoned on the carpet trousers…

    Reply
    • On my occasional participation, I wear a swatch since my, umm, partner, is less tempted to steal it when she leaves after I’ve fallen asleep.

      Reply
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