The Apple Watch is not a Watch

The Apple Watch is on the streets. It is a lovely product. It is functional, and no doubt, it keeps good time.

My father-in-law Joe Weis, was a war hero. He wore this watch.

My father-in-law Joe Weis, was a WWII hero. He wore this watch.

But what is is, is not a watch. It is a tool; an elegant computer that one wears on the wrist, but that doesn’t make it a watch. A watch has a specific set of horological functions; each precision-made piece drives a function designed towards a particular end – the keeping of time in an accurate and aesthetically satisfying style.

Imagine for a moment that you are train buff. You read that an immaculate version of your favorite steam engine has been constructed. Every piece, every curve of the new train is an exact duplicate of your dream train. Even on the inside, the boiler and engine are exactly replicated. Inside that replica are the true guts of the engine, an electrical engine powered by the latest in hydrogen fuel cell technology. An extraordinary technical feat, lovely in all ways, but it is most assuredly not your train.

That is the Apple wrist computer.

This is not to denigrate the wrist computer. I already own a ‘wrist tool’ that tracks my heart rate, wirelessly downloads my data to my training files, and uses GPS to calculate my speed and head me back on track when my bike and I take a wrong turn. This Apple Watch is similarly a groundbreaking idea- to bring a workable version of this product to market is to be saluted. As a tech-lover, I suspect I’ll own one around AppleWatchV.3.

But I’ll still wear a real watch. An analog watch. Watches speak to a certain timelessness. My late father-in-law wore this Army issue wristwatch as a young man serving in the Philippines. It still keeps time, and memories. The watch my parents gave me when I turned thirty in 1988 is a treasure that, after they pass away, will remind me of them in ways that a computer on my wrist cannot. As I close in on sixty, I hope that my son will one day wear that watch.

A timepiece on the wrist speaks to an ideal. A proper watch has a heft and a feel and a look that can be duplicated by a wrist computer, but the wrist computer will fall short. Because it is not a watch.

The keeping of time is primal, and perhaps that is why I prefer a precision timepiece to my smartphone for my timing needs. It ties me to the past, yet doesn’t keep me there. Time is merely a useful construct, a cultural convention invented by ancient peoples that enabled us to move into a more modern society. A quality timepiece links us to an era when small groups of craftspeople would dedicate their lives to the construction of exquisitely built products designed to meet a very particular set of needs.

I love the Apple wrist computer. I pay homage to its design and functionality. And when I buy one, my other wrist will bear my cherished Movado.

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The Beginning
About David Stanley

Teacher & science guy, writer, musician, coach, skier and bike racer, I am interested… in everything; your story, food & spirits and music and everything in the natural world, spirit & sport. My son is 22 and still needs his Dad. I am 56 and so do I.
I blog on life and death, cancer and sports, kids and education at http://dstan58.blogspot.com/

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