I don’t wear a watch
I don’t have a watch.
I hadn’t every really thought it through, and I don’t claim that this is a result of some sort of insight or epiphany, but it was brought to my attention recently that I don’t wear a watch.
For some weird reason, I’ve never forgotten an interview I watched on TV, years ago, in France. The interview was an “up close and personal” kind of thing with Fabrice Santorro. He’s an ex professional tennis player in France, and for some reason, the pretentious interview surprised him by asking
“what’s the first thing you look at, when you meet a man?”
Santorro was a little surprised and struggled to answer, before eventually saying “his watch…?”
I was in my early 20s, and, as stupid as it may sounds, until that day I had never really considered the possibility that people might judge you based on the quality and price of your timepiece. For some reason, it stayed with me. A short while later, I bought a nice watch. It was a Seiko, it cost about £300 and I liked it. But then I just… stopped liking it. A bit like a new car or an iPhone, it slowly just lost its ‘new car smell’. I would take it off whenever I went on holiday and feel relieved and freer without it, a bit like the feeling we all get when we turn off our mobile phones (after we’ve come to terms with the massive hole that they leave in our lives). The watch I had eventually broke, and I realised that I just didn’t care that much. Not enough to buy a new one anyway.
I also don’t notice watches. I never really have. I guess I feel it’s a little like having a really nice set of golf clubs. That’s really good, and a wonderful thing to own if you get some pleasure from it… but I don’t play golf, and I don’t think I would get much from owning something I don’t really value.
If people judge me on the value or presence of my watch, then what do they think when I’m not wearing one? Maybe I can’t afford one. Or maybe I’ve forgotten it? Or maybe I’m just weird. I honestly don’t know, because I’ve never thought about it much.
But, I think watches are weird. They are an incredibly expensive, complex and precise tool giving you constant data and visibility of the time. Nothing else. A good friend of mine gave me some business advice, and he said
“Whatever you want to control, you should monitor. But if you can’t control it, don’t monitor it.”
So, why dedicate a part of your daily dress to the constant monitoring of time. Does it make life easier, does it make you any happier? I guess you’re free to answer that for yourself.
The second reason for me, is that I think we should live life (within reason, and where it’s not negatively impacting on others) in whatever way we want. In the ideal version of my life, I wouldn’t need to know the time to that extent. If I really had the life I wanted, I think my movements would be pretty well within my control. I could afford to be a little late, a little early or allocate more or less time to activities around my own whim and energy levels. I would really have no need for a watch, because I would live life at a rhythm I choose.
I guess if we believed that tracking time enables you to make better use of it, or get more done or control it, then there’s some sense to it. But that’s bullshit. If I turn over a great big sandtimer, would sitting and watching the grains slow them down? I think you’d just conclude that you’re wasting your time, and that you’d do better to completely forget about the sand timer and go and actually enjoy those seconds. I don’t know what it means, and I don’t know if I’m right. But there you go… I don’t wear a watch. Make of that what you will.