Alex Steer

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Goodbye wristwatch, hello wrist

389 words | ~2 min

Interesting finding from Mintel on watches:

As many as one in seven Brits claim they have no reason to wear a watch as they use their mobile phone or PC to tell the time.

I imagine there will be a lot of coverage of this, most of it about the death of the watch.

So let's talk about the rebirth of the wrist.

Yes, we're actually only talking about 1 in 7 people, so maybe the figures are overhyped. And yes, 'many consumers view watches as an accessory rather than just a device to tell the time'. Though that only partly makes sense. A watch without a clock is a bracelet. So maybe it's good news for bracelets.

But let's run with the idea, just for fun. If the watch is dead, suddenly a whole piece of real estate opens up in your life. The space where your watch used to be. The space that you're conditioned to check from time to time.

Think about your wrist for a second. It's a part of your body that feeds you with data when you look at it. That's amazing. That's much better than having a smartphone.

If you watch enough science fiction from about the 50s to the 70s, it's full of devices whose common ancestor was obviously the wristwatch. They might be videos, radios, lasers or teleporters, but basically they're devices that make your wrist do magic. And then there are the brothers and sisters of the wristwatch, normally worn by runners and increasingly capable of recording and displaying sophisticated data.

Maybe I've just been watching Dentsu/BERG's incidental media too much, but talking about the death of the watch is just silly. If we can relegate a boring-but-useful function like telling the time to a device we can hide away when we don't need it (a phone), we can start thinking of brilliant new functions to put on wristwatch-type devices; functions that actually reward the kind of continuous partial attention your watch gets.

If you're wearing a watch, I bet you've looked at it at least once while you've read this. I'll stop before you look again.

# Alex Steer (05/11/2010)