Watches continue to be awesome; film at 11

I mentioned last week that watches are cool precisely because they’re uncool, and today I further confirmed this belief by having the Christmas gift my sister-in-law gave me adjusted to fit on my bony wrist at last: My new Phosphor e-ink watch.

I’ve had this thing for two weeks now but wasn’t able to wear it until today, because the first one I received was slightly defective. The face is basically just a fancy LCD display, and it had a triangular patch of dead pixels right above where the 5 is and therefore, tragically, needed to be replaced. And since it’s a closed bracelet watch, I had to have some links removed before it would fit and not simply fly off and smash someone in the face any time I gestured with my left arm, which I didn’t have time to take care of until today. Fashion, man. It’s dangerous.

I was really drawn to this watch because it feels like the grown-up version of the digital watches kids my age wore as, uh, kids. If you’ve ever read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, you’ll recall Douglas Adams seemed a little obsessed with digital watches. That’s because in the late ’70s, when the man was developing the series, digital watches were a fantastic new technological innovation. Gumpei Yokoi was so fascinated by them he turned them into portable video games. However, LCD watches of the late ’70s and early ’80s were kind of shoddy in retrospect, even the nicer metal ones like my father wore. It was worse for us kids; we ended up with cheap watches made of rubbery plastic (or, if we saved up a bit, a really cool Transformers watch that I would totally wear as an adult if I could find a working one again). Eventually, digital grew to be passé. Swatches became all the rage, and people like me were shown up by the rich kids who could afford to wear five or six Swatches on one arm at once; we rage-quit the art of watch-wearing in defeat.

Anyway, this one by Phosphor takes me back to those elementary school days in the same way that drinking creme de menthe and Kahlua is a fractured, adult version of buying Thin Mints from friends of the family who belonged to Girl Scouts. It’s a digital watch with an LCD face, but the LCD is technology closer to that of the Kindle’s screen, and the case and bracelet are black, ionized steel rather than cheap plastic. The overall design is sleek and stylish, and the face display is mutable; I like the circular hour/digital minute readout best, just because it’s more interesting than nothing but big numbers. And it beeps on the hour, which is charmingly quaint.

Anyway, long story short, I have really missed wearing watches, and it’s nice to be back in the habit.

I am idly wondering if should kick off a fashion category. I bet that would be the most efficient way to drive off the site’s few remaining readers!

12 thoughts on “Watches continue to be awesome; film at 11

  1. This entry made me go to YouTube to look up the commercial for the LASERBEAM WATCH.

    So high tech!

  2. No, man, you’d still have the die-hards.
    You’ve re-kindled my interest in automatic mechanical watches. Which I will never be able to justify owning until I make at least twice as much money as I do now.

    • Actually, I found a pretty nice Seiko Five automatic for about $60 this summer. It gains about 4 minutes’ time per month, but that’s a typical margin of error for all but the ultra-high-end ($2000+) automatic watches.

    • What’s the appeal of mechanical watches over quartz?
      I guess I don’t understand why tons of unseen gears are better than something that simply keeps the time very accurately.

      • Because they’re a marvel of engineering? Sometimes that’s enough. Same reason I still think the Space Shuttle is pretty keen….

        Besides, most automatic watchmakers are proud of their handiwork and include windows into the mechanism (frequently on the back as in the case of the Seiko) so you can see it at work.

  3. Hey, you got me into considering wearing hats (which sometimes I do now), so a few fashion tips with actual good sense (and made by/for people who likes games) is a very nice thing.

  4. I’m curious what the battery life is like on e-ink watches. With ebook readers like Kindle, the battery life is excellent since only refreshing the screen requires power. Wouldn’t a display that refreshes every second deplete the battery quickly?

    • I imagine the battery life will be pretty good. The display only updates every second if you specifically put it in seconds mode, which disallows viewing hours and minutes. The lower number on the partial-analog display in the photo are the minutes; the analog dial only has 12 positions, used strictly for showing the hour, with minutes indicated in digits. So it only updates every 60 seconds under normal circumstances.

  5. Because I don’t like the feeling of metal nor cloth slipping up and down my arm, I wore my watches fairly tight. I credit watches with part of the slight and embarrassing deformity of my left wrist.

    Maybe someday the novelty of hooking a cheap piece of plastic phone to a nice gold chain will wear out for me and I’ll break down for a watch of some kind again. More likely I’ll have the ability to mount my mini-computer on my arm and have it draw power either from the sun or from bio-chemistry before I mount my timepiece on my wrist again though.

    Lastly, I have been trying to send you healing rays through the internet. Please keep us apprised of your recovery so that I can engage in some severe confirmation bias. Thank you and get well soon.

  6. Ya know, I’ve been told so much that I don’t visit this site that I wonder if I actually do.

    • Numbers don’t lie! Traffic here is down 30% since June: the only downward trend in 13 years of tracking traffic. GameSpite’s day in the sun is over, and soon I shall shuffle off to die in the swamps.

      • Posh! A 30% downward trend since June hardly seems like a reason to shuffle into the swamps. There will always be a contingent of people wanting to read your ramblings outside of 1up. Always.

Comments are closed.