Mechanical Watch vs Smart Watch

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Smart Watch vs Mechanical Watch | Oster Jewelers Blog

Lately there has been a lot of buzz around all the new smart watches coming out. And it is a topic that seems to be very polarizing amongst non-watch enthusiasts and watch enthusiasts alike. One of the most frequently asked questions I get today about watches is, “What do you think about the new smart watches?” While this may seem to be a straight forward question, there is no straight forward answer. Granted this may be because they’re asking a pretty avid mechanical watch lover, but as I’ve thought about an appropriate answer I’ve discovered the true nature of the question.

When the general person is asking about what one thinks of a smart watch they aren’t really talking about “watches”. More likely they are referring to the real estate on the wrist a device will occupy. This may sound a little convoluted, but stay with me. Just like anything else that people can be passionate about, watches aren’t just the sum of their parts. A watch is an external extension of one’s personality, whether it be purely aesthetic or has deeper meaning.

The difficulty in answering the question lies in this “deeper meaning.” If I and people similar thought watches were purely just for telling time, then there would be no discussion, smart watches would win out on functionality hands down. So what do smart watches and mechanical watches really represent? Smart watches represent technology and the fast pace of today’s society. It is a reflection of our need to have ever changing information at our fingertips. While these aren’t harmful attributes in their own right, how will the smart watch effect our everyday life? I know from experience how hard it is to have a cell phone go off (even if silent) and fight the urge not to look at it. At what point is information disruptive to our lives? Can you really sit down with your family and create true connections with them if your phone is reminding you of work? And how productive are your work meetings if your attention is drawn elsewhere? Today technology is moving so fast that even the most advanced cell phone is out of date within a year or two. Imagine having to replace your cell phone and your watch that often. Even if this doesn’t bother you think of the sustainability of this paradigm. Is it representative of a disposable society?

If the smart watch represents modern life and technology, does that mean mechanical watches represent an obsolete or out of date way of doing things? When first explaining mechanical watches to people unfamiliar with the concept, my default analogy is that of a car engine. Your watch is pretty much just a scaled down version of your car’s engine, but it runs 24/7. Think of the engineering that goes into the micro mechanics. And all of this is done using old world techniques that have allowed clocks and watches to still be running after centuries of use. Consider, watchmaking isn’t just a dead trade, but a culturally valuable art that has intrinsic societal value. Mechanical watches are the medium in which watchmakers express their art. They are painstakingly hand crafted and decorated.

So, what do I think of the smart watch? It is a good reminder of why I got into watches to begin with. That there is still a place in our society for old world crafts. Smart watches bring light to the necessity of more personal technology that is in all sense of the term “sustainable”.

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