The Dumb Watch: The Appeal of Classic Analog Watches in a Smartwatch Age

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“Now introducing: Smart Shackles!” 

Product manufacturers these days are quick to ballyhoo connectivity. Your watch can connect to your phone, to your computer, your tablet, your car, your printer, your TV, your fridge, your dog. What happens when you’d rather just disconnect, slip away, and live in a world where time is only approximate? Enter the classic analog watch. 

There’s a certain familiar utilitarian friendliness of a single-function analog watch. Can you check the weather forecast or start your car from it? No way. Can you immediately see the approximate time without charging, turning on, or synchronization? No question. 

The following are a few reasons I’m happy to go back to using a single-function analog watch. 

Be connected only by time. 

As someone with a past ADHD diagnosis, upon receiving my latest smartwatch, the first feature I looked for was the “Do Not Disturb” function. This should have been a sign that being physically tethered to communication technology wouldn’t be the best idea. With a classic analog watch, less is more. I can keep an eye on the time without being tempted by the hyperconnectivity of wearable communication gadgetry.  

Supreme reliability. 

Jobs. Cars. Residences. These are all things I’ve changed more often than an analog watch battery. The steadfastness of the power supplies of these utilitarian gizmos means that the most challenging aspect of owning one is remembering where I put the damn thing. Seriously, have you seen my watch? I could have sworn I left it on the bathroom vanity or maybe the…ah, there it is. False alarm. 

Life where time is but an approximation. 

“Half-past three”, “Ten till two”, “a quarter past seven” — These are all expressions of time from yesterday. It seems like our grandparents lived in a world where the exact time did not exist unless you were filling out a death certificate. Though it seems like chaos, living in such a way is refreshingly serene. Have you ever asked someone with a digital watch what time it is? “10:37.” Oy, like nails on a chalkboard in comparison, right? When you use an analog watch or clock, life usually becomes rounded to the nearest five-minute interval. “Nearly ten forty.” Ah, doesn’t that just feel better?

The pleasing aesthetics of time.

Playing off of my previous reasoning for preferring analog watches, there’s something more visually palatable about looking at a clock face over sterile, forboding digital numbers. A clock face gives a more ample depiction of the passing of an hour or a 12-hour period. Seeing time on a clock is more akin to the gentle trickling of the sands in an hourglass rather than the ineffectual glowing digits on a time bomb.

The milieu of professionalism.

Let’s face it — when you see someone wearing an analog watch, you assume that they’re somewhat intelligent. Even if I were to roll out of the bushes in front of you while you were on your lunch break, if I were wearing an analog watch, you wouldn’t assume I had completely lost my marbles. After all, I have to be at least bright enough to read my watch — a task that younger generations are having increasing trouble performing. This has led some people to wear designer analog watches that they can’t actually read — at least not promptly (something I consider relatively asinine). While wearing an analog watch in a job interview or sales meeting is no guarantee of success, it will help to paint the picture of an intelligent and responsible individual. 


It goes without saying that what you choose to wear on your wrist is ultimately your decision. However, if you feel like you have trouble disconnecting and stepping away from the digital world, a simple analog watch may help kindle relief from the collective buzz and inspire greater digital liberation. 

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