So, we’ve talked about where wearing a watch beats checking a cell phone; now we’re going to talk about why rocking a timepiece on your wrist is the superior choice, for a lot of reasons that have nothing to do with knowing the time
1. A WATCH PROJECTS AN IMAGE OF WHO YOU ARE.
Imagine you’re meeting a group of people for the first time, and one of them is wearing this Greubel Forsey GMT Earth…
… another arrives wearing this Eberhard Chrono 4 Full Injection Chronograph…
… and the third person is sporting this Grand Seiko Caliber 9F…
As a watch lover, you are going to form some different opinions about what each of these people are like, aren’t you? That is because each watch choice gives you silent clues as to what what each is like personality-wise (and, let’s face it, income-wise) and what he or she wants from his or her watch.
Now imagine none of them are wearing watches, but they all pull out their cell phones to check the time. That doesn’t tell you much, right? But if they are wearing these beauties, you’ll at least know for sure that all of them have really great taste in watches… which leads to our second point.
2. WATCHES ARE GREAT CONVERSATION STARTERS.
If you see one of these high-jewelry pieces slithering out in the wild on the dance floor, at a wedding reception or in a night club, you can break the ice with “I love your Bulgari Serpenti; where did you get it?”
I’m going to guess an opening line like that will make a better first impression than any of the old cheesy standbys (“Heaven just called, they want me to bring you back home, Angel,” is pretty played out, after all). Seriously, I have bonded with a new dentist over his love of all things Oris…
… with my bankers, who sport a Baume & Mercier and a TAG Heuer…
… with a nurse about how she used the features on her Casio G-Shock to help with her duties…
… and with my friend’s new father-in-law at a wedding when I found out he collects Rolexes.
A simple “That is a great looking watch; what is it?” can get a new friendship off on the right foot and lead to a great back-and-forth conversation. On the other hand, “So you’re an iPhone guy, huh? Me, I like Android” has never really led to the kind of talk I enjoy, but maybe you’ve had better luck than I.
3. WATCHES MAKE GREAT GIFTS.
Buy your daughter this Cartier for her graduation and you’ll see her wearing it for many years to come — and maybe your granddaughter too one day…
Give her a cell phone and she’ll be upgrading your gift in two months’ time or less.
4. YOU CAN PASS YOUR WATCHES ON TO YOUR HEIRS.
Think of it this way: when your time comes, and may that be a very long time from now, do you want the reading of the will to include, “and his cherished collection of Omega Speedmasters goes to his sole surviving heir…”
… or do you think your beneficiaries would rather hear, “He leaves his iPhone 6s with 16GB from 2010 to…”?
5. WATCHES ARE MUCH HARDER TO LOSE OR BREAK THAN CELL PHONES.
Put a sturdy diver like this UTS on your wrist…
… and you can fling yourself into the ocean depths, crash through the obstacles in a Spartan Race, or simply jump in the pool after flipping the burgers with no worries, and you won’t need to constantly check your pockets to make sure your watch is still with you.
I’ve found at least four cell phones so far — on my train, in a cab, on the street and at a restaurant, but I’ve never had to turn in any Breguets or Patek Philippes at the New Jersey Transit Lost and Found.
(And no, that is not because I kept them after finding them.)
I have seen cell phones dropped into rivers and flung by accident while trying to shoo away a bee. I have run to get a bag of rice when a co-worker toileted their work phone and watched my nephew’s phone fly out of his pocket on a looping roller coaster.
Yet I’ve never seen one person’s well-clasped watch spinning helplessly to its doom before my very eyes.
6. WATCHES DISPLAY ARTISTRY.
You can lose yourself gazing into the craftmanship and beauty of a lovely watch like this Bovet Recital 22 Grand Récital…
… or staring again and again at this Glashütte Original Senator Excellence Perpetual Calendar — not to check if the date has suddenly changed but simply to enjoy the tradition and precision engineering it represents.
But do you ever think to yourself, ” I think I’ll pull my phone from my pocket just to stare at the lush details and skill displayed by the assembly line worker who oversaw the stamping of it?” The only thing unique about cell phones are their screen-crack patterns, I’m told no two are alike, just like snowflakes and fingerprints.
A bonus is that you might find other watch lovers staring at the artistry on your wrist but you won’t often see someone trying to get a better look at your smartphone — unless, that is their trying to glom your personal information for identity theft.
7. WATCHES OFFER YOU DAILY VARIETY.
Some lucky collectors with a big “snack budgets” wake up and start the day deciding which of their watches will go best with that day’s outfit or plans.
I have yet to hear anyone claim he couldn’t decide which of his cell phone collection would be best to carry to the board meeting or charity gala. “Should I go with the Space Grey 6S or maybe my Lilac Purple S9 today?”
8. WATCH COLLECTING PROMOTES FELLOWSHIP.
I have personally witnessed lifelong friendships develop over the love of watches at our WatchTime New York Events and on our Swiss & German Watchmaking Readers’ Tours.
At our events, watch lovers come together, share their stories, compare their collections, debate the merits of the new models and maybe even buy their grail watch. On the tours, our guests travel together for a week, seeing firsthand all the skill, craftsmanship, and tradition that makes the premier brands in Switzerland, Germany, Japan, and America so special and unique.
I suppose this might happen among diehard smartphone fans, but having never been invited to any phone-collector gatherings thus far, couldn’t say for sure.
9. WATCHES SOMETIMES RISE IN VALUE; CELL PHONES, NOT SO MUCH.
As a WatchTime reader, you will have seen our extensive coverage of rare or historically significant watches that have come up for auction and sold for impressive amounts.
I don’t recall ever seeing the auction coverage on Paul Newman’s flip phone, but I may have missed it. Does anyone know what the winning bid was?
10. THERE ARE NO HIDDEN CHARGES WHEN YOU USE YOUR WATCH.
Glance at your watch to see the time, admire the artistry, or simply to watch the hands revolve all day long…
…or admire the movement behind a lovely display caseback for hours at a time…
… or roam the world with a GMT indication.
All of that fun and functionality comes with no crushing monthly data plan charges, overseas roaming fees, surprise data overage costs, unused insurance costs, or inexplicable carrier fees and taxes. Oh and you don’t need to worry that your kid is using up all your shared watch-staring time, or buying things off Amazon with your watch without telling you.
11. USING A WATCH IS NOT ANNOYING TO OTHERS.
I have never had to dodge a person charging at me on the sidewalks while setting their watch, or stopping dead in front of me on my way down to the subway to check and tap away at their chronograph pushers. I’ve never wanted to strangle a person for spoiling a movie by holding up his brightly glowing watch in the front row of a dark theater to record the show. I’ve never had to warn somebody not to back up any more or they’d fall off the 30-foot-high viewing platform at an indoor rock climbing gym while trying to angle their watch to photograph their face better. Nobody’s watch has ever chimmed constantly next to me on the train, and no one has screamed loudly into his watch for an entire ride. Nobody has ever spammed or tried to scam me via email on my watches. I’ve never watched a person walk in front of my car against a red light and then flip me off when I screeched to a halt, saving their life because they were so engrossed in admiring the guilloché on their dial. All of the above, on the other hand, have happened to me with people texting, pirating, selfie-ing, screeching to be heard above the train noise, spamming and scamming, and being so hypnotized by the blue glow that they endanger themselves.
Please feel free to add your thoughts and suggestions in the comments section below.
Hello Stephen, I read the previous comments and you seem a nice guy, and you put a lot of good writing there, thank you.
However I don’t agree. We Boomers and X Gen generations (I presume you are one of those like me) may come with plenty of reasons to keep using a watch as we humans always come out with good reasons to do anything, from good things to committing suicide.
Watches were a good thing in the past, but we have to move forward and admit that watches are useless nowadays with the rise of smartphones. Even though Patek Philippe or Rolex keep writing countless papers on the beauty of every watch mechanism (really, who should really care about it from a practical point of view), it is just telling the time and they are just trying to stretch the value of their products like Olivetti tried to keep selling typewriters in the early nineties (they gave up in mid 90s of course).
I do understand that people may like collecting watches like collecting typewriters or other things from the past, just for nostalgia of what’s been used when young, or just to wear a fancy jewellery, but I wouldn’t go beyond that.
Cheers from London
Wonderful and funny reading, but all so true, I agree 100%!!
Thanks for the nice comment Roberto. Cheers. Steve
Unfortunately people who prefer phones or smart watches over mechanical watches to tell the time are probably not reading this article, but I am a watch guy always will be
Hi Stewart, Yup I’m preaching to the choir but now the choir needs to forward the message to the non-watch literate masses. As these youngster hit major life milestones I hope they consider gifting themselves or their loved ones a timeless classic watch that they can pass along to future generations
You have summed up perfectly why you use a watch NOT a phone to tell the time.
And it is so much easier to look at your Wrist than to laboriously pull out a phone !.
Thanks Harry, there is another older article of mine out there that talks about when a watch is better than a phone that hits upon your last point
Hi Harry, Click on the highlighted word “where” at the top of the article and you’ll see my other whole article on that very topic. Cheers, Steve
I found this article annoying and superficial. Here are my thoughts on why mechanical watches are better than smartphones.
1. Time is an element of life that we most value; it is always measured. It is actually kinetic.
2. The mechanical nature of a watch more closely resembles the human structure, making it an extension of who we are.
3. It showcases human workmanship as almost all fine watches are handmade.
4. Mechanical watches require extraordinary care and patience in construction, as does anything of value.
5. It represents and reflects usual value.
Ouch John it was supposed to be light and fun not annoying and superficial but hey to each their own. cheers, steve
John, When I worked there i found it was best to leave the thoughtful and technical articles to be written by real editors like Roger, Mark and Logan. This was a fluffy little puff piece that they were kind enough to allow me to submit. Cheers, Steve
Your response, on the other hand, is arrogant and tactless.
Thanks Stephen for the succinct and accessible short piece – it’s a great reminder of talking points to keep top of mind when speaking with future watch lovers! Indeed, we as an industry need to move away from sounding like ivory tower intellectuals. Cheers!
No sexy tan lines from carrying a smartphone!
I wouldn’t call it sexy but I do have a perfectly shaped Seiko outlined on my pasty Irish white skinned wrist surrounded by bright red sunburned skin after spending the last 3 days at the beach wearing my Seiko diver. Cheers Steve
I worked for many years in controlled access areas where cellphones were/are prohibited. Many of the younger employees ALWAYS asked others for the time, it was quite annoying. I often recommended that they buy a wristwatch and usually received deer in the headlights vapor lock.
It never dawned on the young employees that the people who knew what time it was were the ones looking at the strange things strapped on their wrists? Cheers, Steve
Hi Marc, Couldn’t these young workers figure out the people that knew what time it was were looking at these funny little things strapped to their wrists? I hope they weren’t working on something dangerous if they couldn’t make that mental leap. cheers, Steve
An article well written and reflects my way of life . Contrary to the common daily grind of fitting in to the human driven techno world , a good ole wrist watch is my chosen flow .
Thanks for the nice comment. Sometimes when you are in a raging river threatening to drown you it is a good idea to find and eddy and get out of the rapids. Staring at a finely made mechanical watch is one quick way to do that in our fast paced human driven techno world. In other words I respect your chosen flow. cheers, Steve
Hi Robert, Thanks for the kind words. Sometimes when the human driven techno world becomes a torrent of stress and confusion the best thing is ride your chosen flow into a calm eddy that includes looking at the classic craftmanship of a well made watch.
Stephen, an excellent article. I am a Patek Philippe collector and a big fan of Watch Time.
In short wearing a quality watch provides an emotional and perhaps economic return.
Thanks for the compliment. I’m pretty sure we’ve talked in the past when I worked for WatchTime and you are a gentleman and a scholar. The emotional return is what I tried to point out in this article. Cheers, Steve
Hi Barry, I remember our chats when I worked at WatchTime. The emotional return is really the focus of this little piece. Thanks for commenting.
To whom it may concern,
I very much like your article. But unfortunately you have missed a couple of points. And I say this reluctantly as i love the intricacies of watches, only wishing i could afford some significant achievements from this industry. So with some reluctance i will continue. 1. I will have to have a cell either way. 2 although a cell phone does need to be charged it does not have many peers for accuracy due be constantly updated. 3. A cell phone automatically updates to local time zones.
That all being said, i still wear a watch!
Hi Larry, Cell phones have their huge advantages and we all recognize them, my argument is that cell phones are kinda without soul and that watches and the engineering and artistry of them bring us together while cell phones distract us from each other and the world around us. Cheers, Steve
No hidden charges. Until you go to get it serviced!
TOUCHE’ though that could be considered an unhidden cost I guess….but yes that can be a big expense and a hassle if it doesn’t go smoothly….
Excellent report, Stephen. Much like the cars we choose to drive, our choice of watch gear is a reflection of our personalities and professions. I’m always interested in which timepieces adorn the wrists from anyone on the board of directors to government workers and those fine people who work in law enforcement, firemen, entertainment industry and more. It’s far easier to sneak a glance at your watch than a smartphone in many situations.
It can become a distracting hobby trying to catch what watch people are wearing. I think some people have shot me some sideways glances when I’ve stared at their wrists too long.
Brilliant and so true.
Thanks For taking time to read it and for your kind words…Cheers
Enjoy the quality watch articles.
Thanks for the kind words Mason
I agree with everything but #1 with the income wise point. You never know if the watch was a gift or not. So how would it tell you anything income wise? Take that point back & everything is on point.
thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.
Your point is definitely valid people get fancy gifts or inherit things that they normally couldn’t buy but with that said I think mine is also still valid, my point wasn’t that you would know their exact salary but that you could make a reasonable assumption along with other clues like where you are meeting, how they are dressed overall, etc. Also while it does happen sometimes that a person gets a very expensive gift outside of their normal level of expenditure, I find rich people get rich gifts and middle class people tend to get middle class gift, etc. My very rich friend who races yachts gets a fancy UN or Rolex after each reggatta, me I got a used cd of Reggatta de Blanc by the Police from my friends. Cheers, Steve
Your comment is very clever. the selection of images is great. I agree with you in pointing out those people who use telephones without building and respect for others
Hi Oscar, Thanks for the kind words and for taking the time to write in. Cel Phone rudeness drives me to distraction on a daily basis here in the city and I wanted to contrast that to the elegance of a fine watch which to my mind adds a little beauty to the surroundings. Plus I have fun watch spotting on my train each way, is that a Bell & Ross I see? Cheers, Steve
I am too lazy to wind and adjust the time / date/ etc.
Wow Raymond that is indeed pretty lazy… There are some great looking and well made quartz models out there for you…..
Thank you! I think you covered it quite well.
Thanks Gordon, very nice of you to say so…
You’ve just said what I’ve always thought but couldn’t put into such words of wisdom.
I think “Wisdom” might be overselling my pro-watch anti-phone rants but I appreciate you saying it anyway….
Anything that gets people out of staring at cell.phone is a great advantage
Thanks Skip. I want to start a campaign to get people to move out of the way when they decide to stop dead in the middle of the sidewalk and start texting. Unless you are sending someone the right wire to clip to keep the bomb from going off in 3 seconds you have time enough to be polite and get the hell out of everyone’s way now don’t you?
It’s a tad bit classier to see a (Breitling, Omega, Graham, Glashütte Original – pick your brand of choice) peaking out of your sleeve than to see a iPhone 8 sticking up out of your back pocket.
Also, I guess you can say your dentist has an “Oris fixation”!
I was recognized by name on a return trip to a Tokyo hotel strictly because the person behind the desk remembered the watch on my wrist (Breitling Navitimer 1952 Anniversary QP 03/25) and not my iPhone 6S 201,784,693/753,845,662. We did have a lengthy horological discussion at our first meeting, while admiring the timepieces on each other’s wrists. Each day he would wear a different watch so I could admire his collection during my stay.
Thanks for the great article!
Oris Fixation is a good one…I have to go there tomorrow and I’m going to steal your line. Hope you told the Tokyo hotel guy about WatchTime too.
Your article was Excellent! I Luv my Rolex given to me by Godfather will be passed on to my Grandson
Yup, I hope to pass my Grandfather’s watch on to my son one day in the very far future. Cheers,
A cell phone’s usefullness is directly proportional to the length of it’s power cord. My Breitling Colt’s battery will last over 7 years and is, for all practical purposes, just as accurate…
Great Point Jim…Sure a watch can die but my cell phone has gone out on my multiple times over the last year and my latest watch has been running smoothly for nearly 3 years now.
Very well said!! Cheers!
Thanks & Cheers George!
Great article! Good way to show a collection of very cool watches!
Thanks Scott I only wish they were my collection…..