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Life without a watch

Posted in Life & Love, and Women's issues

clocksFour months in, my left wrist still looks naked. Four months in, I glance at it sometimes, during the course of the day, and think I forgot to wear my watch. One of my watches.

The experiment of not wearing a watch began simply because all my watches’ batteries kept on dying and I kept postponing taking them to be replaced. Finally, I thought to myself, “what would happen if I stopped wearing a watch altogether? How do millennials get by anyway?”. So I stopped.

If it all sounds silly, bear in mind I am the poster child for my generation, and have been wearing a watch since age 8: I pride myself on being always on time; I divide my days in chunks of hours allocated to different tasks; I plan around the 24 segments that divide a day. Meticulously.

In the past week, that I spent on vacation, I asked myself if not wearing a watch had changed anything.

Clearly, it has made me more aware of clocks everywhere: at the hospital and in any of the kitchens where I work, I now know exactly where to gaze if I want to know what time it is. But, instinctively, I realized I already know what time it is. More or less. I also realized there are very many places where they would like for you to get lost in: stores and markets for example. Have you ever seen a giant clock in a grocery store? Or at Macy’s?

Of course, I can always refer to my phone, and I do, but not as often as I would glance at my wrist, almost absent-mindedly, but perpetually aware of the passing of time.

Time, now, feels more elastic, less constrained. I wake up and, judging from the light, or lack of it, I know how much longer I can enjoy the warmth of my bed without relying on the alarm clock. The slanted shadows that fill my office let me know the dogs need to be fed. I am still punctual but less obsessively so. In a counterintuitive way, without what I am now seeing as the menacing presence of dials and hands, the days feel longer. Or, at least, less manic.

Without the visual aid, I obsess over the passing of time less. Which, all things considered, it is no small feat.

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21 Comments

  1. I don’t wear a watch since years. And believe me: When someone is asking me about the actual time I am able to answer it in a range of about 10 minutes – whithout having had a look on any clock around me. My husband is wondering always how I am able to be that precise. When I wear a watch i’ts only as a style of decoration of my wrist.

    October 1, 2016
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    • camparigirl
      camparigirl

      I am getting that good too. As soon as I open my eyes, I can tell what time it is from the shadows on the wall. Like in the old days, right?

      October 1, 2016
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      • But these days, when the sun goes up later every day, it’s difficult for some time.

        October 2, 2016
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  2. It has taken me days to get round to reading this post…days that were not measured by any clocks!
    Time is a human construct. For thousands of years the time was judged by the position of the sun in the sky wherever you lived. People got up when the sun rose, and went to bed when the sun set.
    The concept of ‘accurate’ time really comes from the needs of sailors to navigate the seas and work out longitude and latitude; and from the advent of the railways. In the UK prior to railways each place had it’s own time, so Bristol time might differ from London etc. But so that people would know when a train was arriving/departing a consistent time was needed, and that is when the tyranny of the clock and watch began!

    China is one of the biggest countries in the world – geographically – but has a single time zone. Everything is done on ‘Beijing’ time, which is ridiculous when you think about it. Years ago I flew 10 hours from London to Beijing, then transferred to a plane to fly west to Urumuqi in Xinjiang Province, a 5 hour flight. My brain was completely scrambled by the local time – people were eating their evening meals at 7pm in ‘Xinjiang’ time as the sun had set an hour or so before , which was 1am the next day in ‘Beijing’ time and all good Beijingers were asleep!

    I wear a watch, but use it less and less. My mobile phone is more accurate if I really need it.

    September 15, 2016
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    • camparigirl
      camparigirl

      I didn’t know that time zones were created out of necessity to accommodate the railway but it makes total sense.

      September 15, 2016
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  3. Like you, so many of my watches had batteries that had died. Some were real fashion statements and since I procrastinate as well, I wear them anyway. I just can’t tell time with them.

    September 12, 2016
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    • camparigirl
      camparigirl

      I never thought procrastination would lead me to change a lifelong habit.

      September 12, 2016
      |Reply
  4. Winston moreton
    Winston moreton

    Two hairs past a freckle was the old reply in NZ to, “what’s the time!”
    At the moment with the iPhone set permanently on NZ time in wifi aeroplane mode only (to prevent blow out data charges) I simply add two hours to get local time.

    September 9, 2016
    |Reply
    • camparigirl
      camparigirl

      I might have to adopt “two hairs past a freckle”.

      September 9, 2016
      |Reply
  5. Aw, getting a watch was a right of passage.

    I remember mine: A big clock face with red & yellow pictures (knife and fork at 12, a bedtime moon at 9, etc.) on a bright red strap. My Dad was with me when I chose it. He didn’t like it thinking it a bit childish, but to my six-year-old self, it was just perfect 🙂

    I also remember a beautiful see-through “skeleton” watch my mum bought me in 1991. No batteries, I insisted on a wind-up one, which made the view of the interior even more mesmerising. Unfortunately, after 20 years of near-continuous use, the mechanism eventually gave up its ghost. At that point, I stopped wearing a watch.

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane 🙂

    September 9, 2016
    |Reply
    • camparigirl
      camparigirl

      Funny how we can clearly remember some of our firsts. I can still see my first watch: stainless steel elastic bracelet, bought my grandmother.

      September 9, 2016
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  6. An interesting experiment… Funnily enough, when I went on holidays in August my watch battery died on the first day, and, not wanting to waste holiday time getting it replaced, I just went without. I probably checked the time on my phone a lot in the first couple of days, but I think I adjusted better than I expected (granted, apart from flights, and my cousin’s wedding, there wasn’t really anything I had to be very punctual for)

    At work, there are enough clocks (including on the computers) for me to get by without a watch, but I wear one anyway because it just feels right. Outside of work, however, I tend not to wear a watch because, as cliched as it sounds, I just want to enjoy the moment without thinking about what time it is. And if I’m at home, I know where all the clocks are, and how fast/slow they are too!

    September 9, 2016
    |Reply
    • camparigirl
      camparigirl

      I am much more aware of all the digital clocks in the house: oven, microwave, tv etc. and how fast or slow they are, down to the minute.

      September 9, 2016
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  7. I haven’t worn a watch since my teens. I got sunburnt once and that mark on my wrist stayed there for three years, so I decided to start relying on other methods to perceive time. That was before mobile phones became the norm, so I wonder how I judged time then.

    It’s interesting that you feel more relaxed without a watch. Being the good anxious person that I am, I find I might feel calmer knowing I could always consult the time on my phone, instead of feeling liberated by the absence of a time-telling device… I do ask for the time a lot more when I’ve forgotten my phone, as opposed to when I know I can find out for myself…

    September 9, 2016
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    • camparigirl
      camparigirl

      I have found myself relying on others to know the time too – something I hadn’t done in decades!

      September 9, 2016
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  8. silvia
    silvia

    Good girl, you surprised me

    September 9, 2016
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    • camparigirl
      camparigirl

      Old dog, new tricks etc etc

      September 9, 2016
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  9. I simply cannot live without my watch. Like you I have been wearing one since about age 6 and when mine, I have one, a Cartier, that I have had for 20 years, went for a 3 week service a few years ago, I was lost.

    September 9, 2016
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    • camparigirl
      camparigirl

      I was never without a watch because I have five I was constantly changing around but, on those occasions (very few) when I forgot to wear one, I felt totally lost. That is why I am amazed I can do without now.

      September 9, 2016
      |Reply
  10. I did the same about ten years ago. It all began as the last act of a sort of a gradual elimination of unnecessary ( accessories? Embellishments? Jewels?) from my visible body. First it was rings, then necklaces, then earrings ( I used to wear also while sleeping for most of my life) then bracelets and finally watches. Sometimes I wonder about the meaning of it all: sometimes I like to tell myself I know it, some other times I just enjoy … this silly sense of freedom.

    September 9, 2016
    |Reply
    • camparigirl
      camparigirl

      You raise an interesting point. In my 20s and 30s, I wore a ton of jewelry – necklaces, rings, bracelets. So much gold I was reminiscent of the Madonna di San Luca. As years went by, I shed the whole lot. Now, I only wear my wedding band. And not even every day.

      September 9, 2016
      |Reply

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