The “Why” Of Wearing A Watch.

The last time I regularly wore a watch on my wrist was way back in the early 1980’s.

Actually, one slight correction… The last time I regularly wore a watch on my wrist, prior to the past six months, had been way back in the early 1980’s. On the other hand (no pun intended), for about the past six months or so, I’ve been regularly sporting an old fashioned, mechanically operated, analog timepiece of some sort or the other on my wrist, and have been doing so for reasons of attention and concentration and –– oh, by the way –– so I’ll also know what the time is.

Allow me to put all of this into context…

If you would, take a moment or two, and ask yourself if the following scenario sounds familiar in any sort of way:

You’re just kinda’ hanging around, maybe seated in a coffee shop somewhere and –– out of habit, or out of boredom –– you reach for your phone to casually check the time.

Of course, now that you’ve got that phone in hand, you might as well take a moment to check your e-mail.

You’ve got mail.

So, you take a few minutes to dig through the spam, promotions, and legitimate e-mails and –– of course –– you have to respond to at least one of the e-mails.

After answering that one important e-mail (along with three or four not-so-important e-mails), you decide to check in on Facebook and Twitter because –– what the hell–– you’re still holding on to that phone.

When you finally get around to checking the time for a second time, you’re astonished to discover that twenty to thirty minutes of your life have disappeared –– completely, totally, uselessly wasted –– all because you’d reached for your phone about a half hour prior, checking to see what the time was.

Sound familiar?

Yeah… I thought so.

Of course, I’ve been there, too.

Checking The iPhone










One of the more unhealthy aspects of our society –– and, let’s honest, so many aspects of our 21st Century society work directly against us –– is the barrage of input and information we constantly have to deal with, always vying for our attention.  It sounds like some banal cliche when I wrote “we are surrounded by technology, both day and night,” but the simple fact is that technology does surround us both day and night, always within reach, and constantly in demand of our attention.  And here in the 21st Century (and this is not a banal cliche), attention, and our ability to give it, hold it, and maintain it is both a precious and an increasingly scare resource.

Now, before I go any farther, let me be very upfront about my relationship with technology:

I like my iPhone.

Hell, I LOVE my iPhone.

It still boggles my mind that all of us are now walking around with super computers in our back pockets.

But the mere fact that technology exists within constant reach –– 24/7 –– doesn’t mean that we should constantly partake of it.

Again –– and I just can’t emphasize this enough –– attention is a finite resource.  When we absent-mindedly waste this resource on the technological equivalent of junkfood, we end up depleting important reserves that could better be spent on more productive activities.

Having a face-to-face chat with a friend, or going out with folks for coffee, or reading a book, or writing a handwritten thank you letter –– all of these activities, which do require personal attention, are much more important uses of that attention than just mindlessly cruising through the web, looking at LOLcats, staring at Facebook status updates, or checking out clickbait sites like Gawker, Buzzfeed, and Upworthy.

Anyways…  Enough of my long-winded, quasi-luddite rant.  Let’s go back to the actual purpose of this post, which is to highlight the fact (or, at least, my opinion) that wearing an old fashioned, analog timepiece can actually increase your focus and attention.

Citizen Automatic Watch










The first watch to find itself wrapped around my wrist this past year was a Citizen automatic (self-winding) timepiece, picked up at deep discount from a local second hand store.  Honestly, I’m not quite sure what first compelled me to make the purchase, though I will admit to being completely taken in by its retro-design and pillow-cut cut crystal.  And first seeing the watch on display in the case also gave me a bit of a flashback to when my father was still around, as my father was always –– ALWAYS –– seen in public wearing a watch.

Interestingly, within a week or so of wearing that cheap, second hand timepiece, I noticed that my absent minded internet usage –– my “Gosh…  I should really check to see what time it is and what’s on Facebook and how many e-mails just came through” internet usage –– took a dramatic nosedive.

Hmmmmm…  Interesting.

Productively interesting.

And certainly worthy of a bit more investigating.

Bertucci DX3 Field Watch










The second timepiece to work its way onto my wrist was a Bertucci field watch –– kinda’ stylish, kinda’ cheap, kinda’ indestructible –– picked up at a local sporting goods store.  Very quickly, this became my “knock around” watch: the sort of thing I would wear while working in the yard, or out on a job where I might be hauling equipment around.

As before –– and this was a totally unexpected side benefit –– having that watch on my wrist caused my mindless internet usage to take a very noticeable drop.

Yes, really.

I do think it’s important to highlight this benefit, because it’s achieved so easily: by wearing an old-fashioned mechanical watch, even a cheap little secondhand watch, extra free time is created, distractions are reduced, and –– by default –– attention is increased.

Yes, really.

One other important side benefit?  There’s never a reason to ask, “What time is it?”

Moving on with the story…

It was at this point that I started to put a bit of time and attention into seeking out specific watches.

I’ll be the first to admit, obsessive/compulsive behavior is never a pretty sight, especially when it comes to collecting/purchasing material goods (just think about the crazy neighbor you once had who obsessively collected rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia), though a little bit of obsession is mandatory whenever a person takes on a new hobby.

Myself, I picked up a modicum of obsession.

Unfortunately, the internet –– with all the deep access it provides to obscure information –– can certainly feed an obsession.

Fortunately, this newfound interest of mine also happened be somewhat self-regulating (again, no pun intended), as my watch-wearing tendencies had (and have) genuinely cut down on my iPhone “time checking” and internet usage.  In other words, I don’t find myself standing around, grabbing the phone to mindlessly see what the time is, and then falling down into the internet rabbit hole.

Not out in public, at least.

So, with this new hobby providing its own negative feedback loop, I took the plunge –– though not too deeply –– into the world of diver watches.

And I liked what I saw.

Seiko 7002 Watch, with a Pepsi bezel insert.











I’ll certainly admit that a dive watch (or any other type of timepiece) can be a pricey little accessory, as can be seen here, here, and (especially) here.  And, of course, there’s no logical reason why anyone should pay $500, $5000, or even $100,000 for a mechanical device that tells you the time.  But logic has nothing to do with any of this…  For those who can afford to pay the price, it’s all about fashion, status, and accessorizing.

Myself, I can not afford to pay the price –– at least not the high-end price –– but I can afford to pay the secondhand, found-in-an-antique store price which, by the way, is how and where I found the beautiful Seiko 7002 Dive Watch you see pictured above.

$60 in a local antique shop.

And it keeps perfect time.

As with my other watches, it helps in keeping me from mindlessly zoning out with my phone.

It also brings in an occasional query, from folks who ask me if it’s a Rolex.

Errrrrrrrhhhhh…  No.

Shinola S01










The latest timepiece to join my small collection is the Shinola watch pictured above.

Yeah…  It’s a beaut.

I’ll certainly own up to the fact that it’s a somewhat pricey timepiece though, fortunately, when all your family members get together and create a “Christmastime Watch Committee and Fund,” the financial impact isn’t all that bad (not for the watch wearer, at least).

It’s also worth giving a quick shout out to the folks at Shinola for having their watches assembled in the United States –– in Detroit, Michigan, as a matter of fact –– and for employing former autoworkers within their assembly crew.  Such a smart use of a talented labor pool.

Now, as with my other watches, the Shinola does reduce the amount of time I spend mindlessly staring at my phone, though one could certainly make the argument to make that, by picking up a new hobby –– in this case, by becoming a bit of a watch enthusiast –– I’m wasting time and diverting attention.

I don’t buy that argument.

Honestly, the biggest time waster in my life –– despite all of its amazing, incredible,  super computing powers –– is the iPhone I carry around with me in my back pocket.

I don’t go through life with a laptop strapped to my back..

I don’t spend my days hauling around a 5K retina screen workstation.

But my phone is always near me, always within easy reach, teasing and tempting with distractions.

My quick and simple hack –– of wearing an old fashioned, mechanical watch on my wrist –– results in my having a surprising amount of additional “useful” time in my life, along with increased concentration and attention.

And I always know what the time is.