The future of time

Recently I was talking with a group of students, and I noticed none of them was wearing a wrist watch. This became particularly obvious when one of them, who had told me he would be leaving shortly because he was due to go to a lecture, kept taking out his mobile phone to check the time; and then I gradually became aware that this was how all of them did it. Finally I asked them whether any of them used a watch; and none of them did. They thought my question was a little odd, like asking whether any of them travelled to college on a penny-farthing bicycle.

I like to think I am pretty with it when it comes to modern social and technological trends, but this one caught me out – it had kept up on me without my noticing. And now that I know, it still makes no sense to me. Sure, I would understand that some free spirits might reject the notion of time and deadlines altogether, but none of these students was in that category; to them it was just obvious that if you needed to know the time you checked your phone, which of course you carry everywhere. As for me, even with this new trending fact in my possession, I still find that way of telling the time awkward and counter-intuitive. I’ll stick with my watch, but slightly self-consciously now. I hope this doesn’t mean I have reached middle age in terms of attitude.

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8 Comments on “The future of time”


  1. I haven’t worn my watch in a year. It makes perfect sense, one less thing to remember going out the door. It also means you can check your messages if the phone is on silent.
    Wallets and keys will be the next thing to go, when biometrics become cheap and ubiquitous. 2020.

  2. Vincent Says:

    Ha, next you will sees the return of an elongated fob-pocket to fit the thing.

    It’s actually a blessed wonder none of the fashion designers has thought of that.

  3. anna notaro Says:

    there might be a gender side to this issue..for a woman a watch is an important accessory, or at least it is for my generation πŸ™‚

  4. kat Says:

    I haven’t warn a watch in about 7 years, I was lost a few weeks ago when I smashed my phone, had to keep asking people the time.

    It’s not that I don’t care about time, it’s just hat I rather a digital representation to the clock face and digital watches usually look large and uncomfortable.

  5. Andrew Says:

    I wear a watch, and I’m only out of college a few months πŸ™‚ Not even a fancy pants digital one either, an old fashioned one with little cogs inside and metal bits that rotate and use some sort of archaic positioning mechanisms to tell the time.

    It is handier than a phone. On the one hand, sure, it’s one more thing to remember in the morning. On the other hand, your phone is usually buried in either a trouser pocket or the bottom of a rucksack, requiring some digging to access.

    Anyway, this is all probably missing the point of your post. No, I don’t think it’s a middle aged thing, but then again I may just be a bit odd.

  6. iainmacl Says:

    I dont wear a watch either. But as an astronomer I can easily check the time judging by the position of the sun. πŸ˜‰ – I know, in Ireland that’s tricky!

    Ken Robinson in his most recent TED talk cracks that old joke about why don’t teenagers wear watches and says its because its only a ‘single function device’ and hence useless!

  7. Al Says:

    my smart phone had an accident with a household piece of ceramic recently.
    What a withdrawal…
    Twas my life..

  8. Daire Says:

    I’ve always worn a cheap digital watch. If I’m out on the bike/hiking/whatever, it’s much more robust, weatherproof and convenient than my mobile. It’ll survive in plenty of environments where my phone would quickly perish. If I’m talking to someone/in a meeting/etc., it’s easier (and less obtrusive) to glance at my wrist than fish in my pocket for my mobile.
    I’m not a woman, but for me too my watch is an important accessory (and I don’t mean fashion-wise).
    My handy hint to you all to not forget it in the morning – just leave it on your wrist πŸ™‚


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