I was at a lecture recently by Sir Ken Robinson. If you have read my posts before you will know I am a fan but I’d like to make it clear I stop short of stalking him. I did get to meet him this time and he is as enthusiastic and personable one on one as he comes across when speaking and he didn’t put a restraining order on me to boot!
Sir Ken was promoting his new book “The Element” which builds on some of the themes in his last book “Out of our minds” – a review of which you can read in the “what I am reading” section of my blog. (I’ll post a review of The Element when I have read it). During the talk we were asked to put up our hands if we were over 25 and to keep them up if we were wearing a wrist watch. A lot of hands went up and nearly all of them remained up. Next the under 25’s were asked to the same question and although there were fewer of them most of the hands went down when they were asked if they were wearing a watch.
The under 25’s don’t wear watches because they use their mobile phones or other similar digital devices to provide them with accurate information about time. And these devices provide a multitude of other functions that their watch doesn’t. Why carry a compact digital camera and a phone with a decent digital camera built in? You wouldn’t and the same argument, for the young at least, applies to watches.
I have three children under the age of 11 and all of them have been given wrist watches over the years as birthday and Christmas presents but they never wear them. Time at that age, is not important and Mum provides all the scheduling they need. Although I agree with Harwood E. Woodpecker in his blog post “The Wrist Watch and the Digital Age” where he talks about parents using watches and in particular he says Casio Digital watches, to make “our children slaves to time”.
However I think his argument is outdated in device terms. Parents that want to know where their kids are and make sure they come home on time will give them mobile phones and although we are resisting, it is not uncommon at my daughters school for girls as young as nine to carry a mobile phone. There is a dual benefit to this situation. Kids get a device that is cool (like the Casio digital wrist watch once was) and parents make them become slaves not only to time but also to being always available.
The ideas intrigued me and I began to wonder what this could mean for watch manufacturers? As a jewellery item or a statement about our status I should think the watch will have a long life but this is quite a niche market. In 70 years the last of the mainstream watch wearers will be all but gone and how many people in their autumn years get a new watch other than as a retirement gift?
However if we think about the evolution of the watch it moved from pocket to wrist in the 1920’s and this was for reasons of fashion where women were concerned and the practical demands of war for men. If practical needs drove the humble watch from pocket to wrist could they do the same for the mobile phone? With this in mind I searched for “wrist watch of the future” to learn what developments were taking place.
First item I came across was for the Windows watch of the future which comes complete with Windows CE 5.0, 1.45-inch screen, GPRS, network camera and/or 1.3-megapixel digital camera, Wi-Fi connection, Bluetooth, up to 1 gigabyte of T-flash memory and it also supports Skype, MSN and other applications. And just in case this is actually a joke I also found that HP have a bunch of designers that have actually brainstormed ideas for the watch of the future.
So it looks like the watch may not yet be dead although with the limitations of screen size it will be interesting to see whether what really develops is more an evolution of wearable technology. Thoughts anyone?