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                Volume 11 |Issue 06| February 10, 2012 |


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Watch Out, Phone In

Soraya Auer

It is generally agreed that CDs, DVDs and DVD players rendered tapes, video cassettes and VCRs obsolete by the year 2000. They are so archaic that for approximately eight seconds, I actually forgot what the latter two were called.

I ask you, is the wrist watch the next species of technology set for extinction? The mobile phone is proving to be a worthy adversary with all its multi-purpose uses. People supposedly prefer to use expensive, touch-screen, count-my-calories smart phones to traditional wrist watches. Online blogs and forums have been arguing for years as to whether the wrist watch has become more of an accessory piece than a time telling piece and that it's only a matter of time (pardon the pun and all those yet to come) before wrist watches join their forefathers (the grandfather clock, the table clock and the pocket watch) in the watch cemeteries – sorry, I mean – museums of Switzerland.

Is the wrist watch becoming extinct? Photo: Amirul Rajiv

Speaking of the land of cheese and chocolate, the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry conducts extensive research into the watch market every year. Unsurprisingly, they are under the impression that their business is doing okay. While this may well be true, walk down any street and ask people if they use a watch or a phone to tell the time, and I'm willing to bet you'll find a surprising amount admitting to using the latter.

An online survey, taken last month by ZURBlog, asked more than one hundred people the same question and 81 percent said they used a phone to tell the time. Those who fought in the corner of wrist watches said watches were easier to access, more focused and classy. The challenger, the mobile phone, argued phones were ubiquitous, accurate and carried around anyway, so why carry more?

I can't help feeling the wrist watch was at quite a disadvantage as anyone savvy enough to be responding to an online poll is more likely to favour technology. Nonetheless, the result is an interesting observation.

I am both young and a loyal wrist watch user. I've had a wrist watch for as long as I can remember and feel incredibly naked without one. That's right, I wear a watch even if it clashes with my outfit, be it shirt or sari.

People who prefer to use their phone to tell the time argue phones are carried around anyway,
so why carry more? Photo: Amirul Rajiv

I like to think wrist watches aren't going anywhere; they're just becoming more functional. It even has the potential to wipe out mobile phones if someone would only invent a wristphone. Watch-making has downsized over the centuries, from grandfather clocks to finger ring watches. By no means does this mean watches will lose their usefulness, it just means they will adapt in size and portability as they have done since their invention.

The wristwatch will undoubtedly be modified and occasionally replaced by other technologies, but for the convenience it provides when you're in a swimming pool, gym, classroom, meeting, on the move or on an airplane, it shall never be usurped.

From the analog face to the digital display, the wind-up to the solar powered, wrist watches have come leaps and bounds in technology and style. While we might carry around phones most of the time, there are times when it's a hassle to get out of your pocket or bag. Also, since when do watches die of battery as often as our phones do? Not that often. Phones are distracting with games like Snake and internet time wasters like Twitter. I may sound like some old fogey that has a problem with change but I'm not alone. There are plenty of young people like myself (despite my grumbling I am not old) who like the feel of a watch on their wrist and prefer to consult it for the time rather than fiddle with buttons to get their phone's blank screen to illuminate.

So readers young and old, let's remember what our phones can't do for us and not prematurely think it's time to send the trusty wrist watch to an early grave.

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