Hell, No, Apple and Samsung: I Am Not Going Back To Wearing A Watch

I don't care how smart it is. It could be a genius watch for all I care. It can have Zen sayings from Steve Jobs every hour on the hour. It can take my blood pressure, count my meager calorie burn sitting here at my desk typing, give me email and social media check-ups and even be a motion-sensitive TV remote control (okay, that would be cool). I don't care what it will do (except maybe for that last part about the TV remote). I am not going back to having a slab strapped to my wrist. I outsourced time-checking to my smartphone years ago. Samsung, which confirms it will reveal a Galaxy Gear watch-like accessory next week, and Apple, rumored to have an iWatch in 2014, can try all they like.

I understand the tendency for new technologies to leverage the familiarity of the old to usher in the new. Early film leaned on melodramatic theater and vaudeville before it found its native forms. TV mimicked radio in its earliest years. And the Internet looked to all like one big publishing platform that traditional media should own, until search, social and e-commerce evolved a different path. I get the McLuhan argument about first needing to rely on, then dispense, old forms on new media.

But the watch? Really? According to Juniper Research, I may be alone in my repulsion. They say worldwide smartwatch shipments will reach 36 million by 2018. The arrival of the two big smartphone powerhouses will be the driver. "By educating and publicizing this device segment to the consumer, Apple and Samsung will indeed act as a catalyst to the market,” says Juniper’s Nitin Bhas. These higher-end multi-function devices will appeal to users as much or more than watches. They will incorporate fitness trackers, mobile payment or ticketing functions as well.

All of which could be satisfied perhaps by a band like the current fitness accessories. At least these things can pass as emblems of support for a cause. But a watch? There is something disarmingly retro about all of this. I understand that there has been a rebound in the long-suffering timepiece market in recent years. As watches become less relevant on a functional basis, and dismissed by the youngest demos, the fashionistas settle in. Style, price, and aching, deliberate irrelevance are, after all, the building blocks of luxury fashion.  

Still, I am not buying it. I always hated wearing watches. For years I sported a pocket watch to avoid the feeling of having something strapped on. Making the transition from pocket watch to cell phone as timepiece was pretty fluid for me. I am fine with the idea of wearable, connected devices, mind you. I truly believe that this next wave of technology is going to create a gusher of data that people will want to control. Companies will be made and broken on their ability to craft real service around the intimate proximity of wearable devices to peoples’ movement, health, visual perspective, communications needs. I believe all of that.

But a watch? Please -- not a watch. Make a smart patch and slap it on my ass. Put a hearing-aid like nub in my ear. Implant a screen on my forearm. Put a projector on my fitband so it can throw an image on the desk. If we must give a nod to the past in order to move into the future, let’s pick another aging accessory. Give my pen an IQ. Educate my bow tie. How about smart suspenders, intelligent garters, thoughtful spats, insightful girdles, gifted berets, a brilliant monocle? Anything but a smart watch.

7 comments about "Hell, No, Apple and Samsung: I Am Not Going Back To Wearing A Watch".
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  1. Jeff Rutherford from Jeff Rutherford Media Relations, LLC, August 29, 2013 at 11:57 a.m.

    Steve, I agree wholeheartedly, and I've said basically every word of your column to various friends and family.

    When I started using my first cellphone - not a smartphone - I stopped wearing a watch. I'm not going back to wearing a watch even if it's a "smart" watch.

    That said, I am intrigued by the various quantified self devices - Fitbit, etc. I could see wearing something like that for tracking exercise, etc.

    And, while we're on the topic, I don't think Google Glass is the form factor for wearable computing either. I think as voice search and voice response becomes more powerful, I could see wearing some device that's the size of a modern hearing aid. I could do voice searches, leave myself voice notes, listen to music and podcasts, etc.


  2. Steve Smith from Mediapost, August 29, 2013 at 1:04 p.m.

    @Jeff. I am sure we will go through a lot of form factors for these things, and my guess is there will be a range from which people choose according to their own needs and styles. Arguably the interests of the users and the makers could be at odds. The makers will likely want visibility, devices that others will see and mimic. Users probably want invisibility from these wearables unless they really do become fashion statements.

  3. Ondine Bult from BestBuzz.Bz, August 29, 2013 at 1:16 p.m.

    The calculator watch of the decade.

  4. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, August 29, 2013 at 2:58 p.m.

    #1: Granny, what big eyes you have ! Better to see you with my dear. How big is that watch to see more than a watch ? What a big magnifying glass you have to carry ?

  5. Barbara Lippert from, August 29, 2013 at 3:14 p.m.

    Great column, Steve~! I for one wanna stay away from an insightful girdle! But I happen to love watches, and still wear mine, despite having had a smart phone for 5 years.

  6. Dave Kohl from First In Promotions, August 29, 2013 at 5:23 p.m.

    I can ALWAYS easily look at my watch for the current time. It saves me having to reach for and turn on a phone. My watch never loses its signal. The battery keeps for more than a full year at a time without "recharging". It doesn't stop ticking while I'm riding the elevator to and from my office. I never go over my "limit" even during my busiest months. Heck, every watch I have had has lasted more than two years without becoming updated or needing to be traded in. You know what? I dropped it last week, and it continues to work flawlessly.

  7. Noah Wieder from SearchBug, Inc., August 29, 2013 at 9:37 p.m.

    Hi Steve, I think we're in the minority and I haven't worn a watch in over a decade. Besides getting in the way of things I do, there are so many clocks all around us. Every device I use has a clock. Between my ipad, smartphone, laptop, desktop and everyone around me having a cell phone or watch, what do I need a watch for?

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