Starting in around third or fourth grade, I wore a watch every day. I always had more than one option, and they ranged, over the years, from various Casio gadget watches to Swatch Skin designs, from a Movado (bar mitzvah) to a Breitling (engagement), from $15 fake Rolexes on Fifth Avenue to the M&Co 10-One-4. I always had more than one, and I’d match them to the occasion and even to the color of my shoes.
Then I got an Apple Watch. The Series 0, first one out the gate, in stainless steel so I could wear it with a suit (back when such things mattered). I wasn’t a heavy user, but I loved the basic functionality—never miss a text, never miss a call, tap-tap reminders of meetings, easy use while driving or carrying things. It became my daily wear. I had two recurrent thoughts: What will I do with my old watches now that I’ve converted to a smart watch? And what will the watch manufacturers do to keep up?
The second answer is a continually evolving business essay, but the first answer was, for a long time, “not much.” I stuck my three non-Apple watches in a drawer and left them there. I missed them, for various reasons, but I got hooked on the Apple Watch’s functionality, just as so many people did when upgrading to smartphones.
Then the pandemic hit.
For the first time in decades, I didn’t have anywhere to go, and I didn’t have a regular place to work. I found myself moving around a house in the suburbs all day—desk, bed, couch, kitchen table—always with my Macbook Air, never at a proper keyboard. I discovered very quickly that my watch band was getting in the way. Ten hours a day clacking the Apple Watch clasp into the corner of the laptop became frustrating. At the same time, its functionality was losing its appeal: no longer commuting and moving around, my phone was on my desk most of the day, and I never missed an alert.
And for the first time in nearly 40 years, I stopped wearing a watch.
I started by removing it for heavy typing, then realized I was fine not wearing it at all, and that was that. After a while, I didn’t miss the smartwatch at all. It didn’t hurt that my watch was aging; but instead of pining for the latest version, I just stopped wanting one entirely. Switching to an entirely remote company for work sealed my Apple Watch’s fate.
As the world came out of the pandemic, I realized that my wardrobe was missing something. All those years wearing watches are hard to ignore; I like having something on my wrist (I wore bracelets on and off for years, on the opposite arm) and the return to socializing and occasional in-office days had me staring at everyone else’s timepieces. My arm felt naked.
So I pulled out my beloved Nixon 51-30, and after months of meandering repairs (the battery was dead; I got a new battery installed, and the now-brittle rubber strap immediately snapped in two; I convinced Nixon to send me a replacement strap, but the screws holding the strap were stuck; I sent the watch back to Nixon, who discovered the case was dented and needed replacing) I actually have a mostly new watch on my wrist.
I’m wearing my watch as I type this, laptop bumping be damned. And now, when I next go to the office or out to dinner, I’ll feel just a little bit more whole.