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Don’t Watch That! – Smartwatches vs. Vintage Timepieces

Gosh, smartwatches really tick me off. They’re so horribly antisocial! The scenario: you’re catching up with a friend and see their eyes constantly darting to their watch. What’s wrong? Are they bored of you? Are they watching the minutes slowly tick by until they’re free of your company? Nope, they’re just looking at their messages. Every time a message comes in, the watch screen springs into life, lighting up and demanding attention. It may only be for a moment, but add those moments up over the course of an evening and the cumulative effect is… well, plain bloody rude.

I thought things were getting pretty bad on the old etiquette front a few years ago when people started setting their phones out on the table at the pub or restaurant. It was as though they were “hot desking” at some hip workplace. But this smartwatch business is even worse.

What’s happened to basic manners? Has everyone forgotten that it’s bad form to be in someone’s company and to keep giving your attention to something else? I don’t think people always mean to be offensive. But the problem is that the watch forces you to look. If you’re sat there with your hand out in front of you and some blinking activity occurs in the vicinity of your wrist then you’re inevitably going to check it. I always did find flashy watches garish; but the oversized, jewel-encrusted bling gets my vote every time over this new breed of attention-seeking timepiece that quite literally flashes until it catches your eye. Apart from the antisocial element, it’s surely not good for one to be constantly at the beck and call of one’s watch. The irony is that the sort of people who lap up all this advanced tech are the same sort of people who go in for trends like guided mediation apps and “being in the moment”. Of course you’re going to need help relaxing and destressing if you’re constantly wearing a smartwatch. It’s practically a digital handcuff that chains you to your work, tells you when to exercise and even when to go to bed. With a smartwatch on your wrist, even short moments of respite like sitting on the loo are taken away from you because you’re constantly “plugged in”.

As for the appearance of smartwatches… well, they’re hideous, aren’t they? They look exactly like what they are – a chunk of computer just slapped on your wrist. True, Apple watches come with some funky straps now which do spice things up a bit. But the vast majority of smartwatches just look awful. What makes all this even more infuriating is that the market for smartwatches is booming at the moment. This means that people are spending their money on ugly, stress-inducing technology when they could be investing in a classic vintage watch instead. I do appreciate that many of these vintage watches are extortionate, but you don’t actually have to spend eye-watering amounts to get a nice one; vintage watches aren’t about expensive technical wizardry; they’re about pleasing design. They also feed nicely into the trend for Menswear returning to the 1950s.

The best thing about them, though, is that unlike tyrannical smartwatches that shackle your brain to the daily grind, vintage watches can fire your imagination and let your mind run free. For instance, you could pick up an elegant, understated watch from the 1930s, complete with tastefully careworn leather strap. Every time you put it on you’ll feel like some smooth operator in a casino in Monte Carlo. What fun! Or, you could go for a pilot’s watch from the Second World War. Why not? Every time you wear it you’ll feel like you’re about to step into the cockpit of a Spitfire in the Battle of Britain. Tally-ho, chaps! OK, I know most people like to live in the here-and-now a touch more than I do. But my point is that when it comes to watches there’s immense diversity and endless possibilities. There’s history attached – just look at the stories about the watches of JFK or Paul Newman. And it doesn’t have to be genuine vintage, of course. Did you see the Timex M79 Automatic in our round-up of March 2022’s coolest stuff? It’s a new watch which has a ‘70s-inspired look but is powered by your movement. Frankly, all I’m really trying to say here is that smartwatches suck. Even if you only wear watches to show off and feel like a big-shot, there are better ways to do it than by wearing a silly little calculator round your arm. So why not ditch the anti-social shackle once and for all and just enjoy dressing up again?

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