new watch, old technologyPosted: October 29, 2014
I don’t know whether in today’s terminology one might would call me neurotic or perhaps anal as a child, but I wanted my own watch very early on. I would say it was second or third grade, when we were living in Barstow. My dad finally gave in when he realized that his offer to allow me to watch his watch was not going to be sufficient. My parents allowed me to do extra chores around the house to pay for half of a new watch, and they kicked in the other half. I have not been without a watch since then.
It must have been in the early 1960’s when self-winding watches first came out. Before that you needed to remember to wind your watch each day if you wanted to keep it running. (Remember those days?) This new technology meant that if you put your watch on in the morning and kept it on all day the motion of your wrist would wind your watch for you. I probably wouldn’t even have known about this, but my grandfather bought such a watch and liked to talked about it. Youngster that I was, I thought it made sense for me to move his wrist back and forth to wind his watch for him.
I think I must have had one or two of those of my own, but with the advent of battery-powered watches I largely forgot about the technology.
I was reminded of it when Terry came home from a sales conference. She won an intense game of Jeopardy, and the prize was a beautiful Swiss Rotary watch. It was much too large for her wrist, so she gave it to me. Spending just a few minutes with the watch told me that it used that self-winding technology.
The watch itself is a work of art.The center of the watch is transparent, so the gears and mechanisms are visible. As one who has had a digital watch (I have two now) for more years than I can remember, this is a nice change.
Watching the gears move makes me think of the early years of the modern era and of human creativity and invention. Not that we haven’t accomplished a great deal in the intervening centuries, because certainly we have. But watching the gears move evokes thoughts and images of humankind’s ability to innovate that I don’t see in a digital display, even though that digital display is the result of a great deal of innovation and invention.
Looking at those gears is some strange way therapeutic for me. I like that.