Old-Fashioned Watches: Low-Tech and Loving It


Even though it was expected and should not seem surprising, I find it amusing that Apple is releasing a watch product when so many people now check the time by lighting up their smartphone screens.

I love wearing a watch and I have several to choose from when I get dressed each day. It’s true that none of the watches in my collection will count how many steps I’ve taken, let me view cute cat photos, or allow me to update social media accounts. But I wear my watches like jewelry and, as stylish and sleek as the Apple watch appears to be, it looks like an electronic device on a wristband. I’m not going to say I will never get one—through the years, I regret saying I would never wear a lot of things, like Birkenstocks or white after Labor Day—but I’m already feeling nostalgic for the good old-fashioned, time-telling watch.

I choose a watch like I do my earrings, necklaces, bracelets, and rings—and my clothing, other accessories, and handbags (bags—don’t get me started on handbags!). Like so many others, I express myself with my style choices and I love clothing and accessories that have been selected with care. Today I’m wearing my Wenger Swiss Army men’s watch, which is a memento from one of my first jobs. After five years with the company, I was told I could choose a work anniversary gift from a catalog that was filled with crystal vases, landscape paintings, and other dust-collecting items that would have ended up being donated to a thrift shop. Wisely, I chose the watch. It tells time reliably and has a date function (although it’s off by 10 days, give or take, since I last changed the battery). It’s classic.

On any other given day, I might wear the Baume & Mercier watch that cost a whole paycheck when I bought it at a shop on Fifth Avenue in New York several years ago. I remember nervously handing over my credit card—how could I spend this much money on a watch?— but I have never regretted the purchase. Like any beautiful and well-made accessory, I instantly feel pulled together when I’m wearing it. I love to look down to see the numbers around the dial, the hands that move with precision, and the weight of it on my wrist.

For special occasions or when I’m feeling fancy, I wear one my vintage Bulova watches; one was passed down from my grandmother and the other was one of my mother’s Sweet 16 birthday gifts. Both are dainty and make me feel lady-like and ready to take a swirl around the dance floor. A favorite Swatch from my teen years shows the inner workings of the watch on its face and usually sparks nostalgic conversations about the ’80s whenever I wear it.

I no longer have all the watches I’ve owned, nor do I feel the collection is actually complete. (I went through a phase in my twenties of wearing ring watches I purchased from flea markets and street vendors—and wouldn’t that be a fun new way to add to the collection?) The watches I have now are still worn and used, with the exception of the wind-up Snoopy watch I got as a gift from my parents after receiving my Holy Communion. I no longer wear it, but I like seeing it among the timepieces. It started ticking when I wound it up earlier and Snoopy’s front paws can still move around, all these years later.

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