Of watches and minimalism

It was barely a month ago I got a new watch, an automatic “Waterbury” watch from Timex. This is the nicest watch I’ve ever owned. Yet barely a month later, I’ve purchased another watch. It’s another Timex, one of their “Weekender” watches. It’s one of the least expensive watches they make. I paid $35 for mine. It’s a simple analog face watch, albeit a quartz battery-powered one. It’s got a very clean, “open” aesthetic. And it’s designed to take slip-through NATO straps, so I can switch out watch bands very easily. It’s a cheap watch, not as nicely finished as my Waterbury. Yet I also like this Weekender a bunch.

What gives? Why get another watch, and so soon? Well, I figured out that I may need a back-up watch at some point. I also wanted something less expensive in case I was going to do some rough-and-tumble activity. And I’m a sucker for Timex’s own Indiglo back-lighting system, something my Waterbury lacked. 1 The Waterbury has luminescent hands and markers, but they aren’t that great. (Timex isn’t noted for their luminescence, which makes sense, since they went so hard into Indiglo.)

The biggest reason to get another watch is to have another watch. I’ve basically been a “one watch at a time” type person.2 I just never got into the idea of having multiple watches. This meant when a watch died, I’d have to scramble and find a new watch ASAP, and it would have to fit into whatever my current budget is. Then the new watch might not be as exciting. Now it is true that there are many ways to now tell time. Even the dumbest of mobile phones will tell the time, most will have an alarm,3 and most of us carry one in our pocket wherever we go. But I like the idea of having a watch on my wrist. And it’s easier to quickly glance at one’s wrist on a bike ride 4 then fumble around for one’s phone.

I just felt it was time to allow myself to have more than one watch. It’s okay Shawn, many people have multiple watches. It doesn’t make me bourgeois or flashy. I can wear one depending on needs and mood. It doesn’t mean I’m going to get heavily into “watch culture”. No, I peeked a bit of that when I was searching for watches. There are people (mostly men) who feel that if you don’t spend thousands on a watch, you don’t have a “real” watch. What makes a watch “real” anyway? I thought it just needed to tell time fairly accurately. I saw analogues to people who get hung up about Leicas, that somehow having the desire and the cash to own an expensive timepiece or camera means something more than those who buy Armitrons or disposable cameras from the pharmacy. At least a Leica can be a creative tool, whereas even the most expensive watch doesn’t tell time any more creatively than my $35 weekender.5

It got me thinking about “the right amount of stuff” one should have. I never subscribed to the minimalist movement, though I do admire some aspects. I don’t want my things to “own” me, but I also don’t mind having more than one of a thing. In its most basic shape, having two of a certain kind of thing means that if one breaks or something, you have a back-up. That’s why I have more than one bike, or camera. Mind you, I don’t need as many bikes and cameras that I have, but I also don’t feel like it’s an unreasonable number.

I don’t envision myself becoming some kind of watch collector, but I can see getting another watch at some point. Until then, I’ll enjoy these two watches.

Like my stuff? Go to my Ko-fi page to buy me a coffee!

1 It would be impractical for something electronic like Indiglo to be put into a wind-up watch.

2 I did have two watches for a bit before getting the Waterbury, but that was mostly because I got a new watch and never gotten rid of the old one.

3 I found it amusing that, towards the end of my hostel era, there would still be people who would want to borrow an alarm clock. Once we got rid of them, we’d get a few people who’d act put-out, “How am I supposed to get up on time?” Yet all of these people would be glued to their smartphones all day long…

4 True, many bike computers have a clock. I own two such computers. But the clocks tend to be inaccurate over the course of time. And it’s almost impossible to reset the clock without resetting everything (you figure they’d make it easy, as we have to change clocks twice a year), so I just don’t bother.

5 Unless you consider “creative” to mean “inaccurate”. Battery-powered quartz watches are more accurate than any mechanical watch. And you can be assured that a super-expensive watch is going to be mechanical.


7 thoughts on “Of watches and minimalism

Add yours

  1. You know I’m ever focused on the things I bring into my own life. And I can say from my own perspective, you did this very intentionally, and are being honest about also just wanting another. One thing I saw about how you approached this, which differs from how I usually do things (albeit you are a self-proclaimed watch person, so you’ve been thinking about this for far longer than just the last few posts about it, which is where I am in your watch story): You already had the Waterbury – the pinnacle of what you reasonably aspired to own [my understanding]. You added the Weekender to augment your watch experience. You weren’t chasing after something the Waterbury didn’t provide. This is where I feel I have something to learn: You didn’t try to cheap out, then fix your mistakes with more. That’s not to say one can’t upgrade, and still enjoy the previous item. But the way I tend to go about it, I end up having to move up because I didn’t put enough thought into the initial purchase. I could go on, but probably should do so in my own blog 🙂 Thanks as always for sharing your thought process.


    1. Thank you for the thoughts, Wilson. It’s true that I didn’t “cheap out” with my new Waterbury. It is probably better to save up for what you want and not settle for a less expensive version. But I have definitely cheaped out in the past. Sometimes it’s because I had little money and didn’t want to wait the year or three to save up for the nice version of something. Sometimes the cheaper version will be sufficient, as with some of the watches I have owned. I wouldn’t want to become the person who gets too hung up on having “the right thing” and waits years to save up for something, when “the not-as-right thing” would be good as well.

      Case in point: There was a story in a bike magazine a few years back, where a college student decided to get a bike so they didn’t have to spend all their money on transit. But they had to have “the right bike” so they went custom and waited several years to get one. Then how were they getting around in the interim? And one can also spend a few hundred bucks on a campus bike while waiting for that custom. (Nevermind the fact that colleges are hotspots for bike theft…)

  2. Even the dumbest of mobile phones will tell the time, most will have an alarm,3 and most of us carry one in our pocket wherever we go. But I like the idea of having a watch on my wrist.

    Me too. But that’s what I think makes the Apple Watch so compelling. It has some of the features of my iPhone packed into the compact shape of a watch.

    1. I find smartphones enough of a distraction that I don’t want one on my wrist. I just want something that tells time, and maybe has a date. A chronograph could be a nice add-on, or things like temperature or a compass. But I don’t want the ability to access the internet.

      1. My Seiko tells time but that’s all it does. My Apple Watch is never a distraction. That’s a matter of discipline. But the Apple Watch is great at reminding me to stand when im so focused on work that I forget to stand. It tracks my exercise and blood glucose. If all I wanted was the time there is one on the computer, on the microwave, on the stove, on the smart thermostat. I think your Watch purchase is more than just about getting the time.

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