Going watchless

All my life, ever since I was just a wee little one, I’ve worn a watch.  For some reason in those early days, watches fascinated me and I was drawn to them.  In retrospect I think the mechanical engineer was already in me back then.

I’ll never forget it was Grade 1 or so, and one of my classmates, John, had one of those awesome watches with red LEDs that glowed to tell the time when you pressed the button.  Sorry kids, this was back in the early 80s, and I’m not referring to an Apple watch, but something more like this.  I’m pretty sure it was a Pulsar, and I was in love with that watch.  I continually bugged John to let me wear it, much to his annoyance.

My parents never bought me one of those, but I’ve had so many different watches since that time.  I went from the analog windups to ‘newfangled’ digital ones with what seemed like a zillion alarm tunes (played in single notes only, as I recall) on them.  I thought I was happening and would occasionally set alarms to go off for no reason at all, while I was somewhere in the presence of adults, just for fun.

Before I got married my future mother-in-law bought me a really nice watch, a Tag Heuer, which I’m quite fond of and wear 24/7 to this day.  I mean I never, ever take off my watch.  Er, ahem…well, up until recently.

Last week, before one of my 7-mile runs, I took the watch off my wrist to try a little experiment: would I slow down and be less fixated on time if I didn’t wear it?  I carry my iPhone around with me everywhere, so it’s not like I never know the time, but it is just that much more effort to reach for the phone and turn it on compared to glancing at my wrist.  So that day after my run I left the watch off.

I’ve been thinking about doing it for quite awhile, and ironically it was an idea I had while perusing online a new watch that caught my fancy (this lovely one, which has only a single hand).  The idea behind the single hand is that you have less resolution, so at a quick glance you can probably only estimate the time to within about 15 minutes.  It is supposed to “change your perception of time” and they claim up to 2-minute resolution, but I’m pretty sure you have to look very closely and estimate the tiny increments between the 15-minute tick marks to get that.

Anyway, at first I found myself looking at my wrist often.  I realize now how in the mornings, I look at my watch to kick myself out of bed (often with a little guilt for sleeping too long), and I look at it while standing in the morning shower to tell myself I need to get out, and I sometimes fixate on it in the afternoons at work, just before leaving the office.

Now, in the morning after my iPhone alarm goes off, I snooze for some undetermined amount of time (no watch!) and get up and hop in the shower for some random length of time.  It’s not until I get in the car that I see the clock.  During the day, I no longer glance at my watch for no good reason, other than time is something that I seemingly feel like I need to know.  My Outlook calendar doesn’t let me miss work meetings or appointments.

After some initial adjustment, and getting over the feeling of being ‘lost’, I must say that it really has made me less time-driven, and I like it.  Do you wear a watch?  If you’ve done the same thing, or are willing to give it a try, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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