Stopped Watches


With the start of school and the return of the necessity of wearing long pants, I wanted to strap on a wristwatch again. But alas, all three of my wristwatches have dead batteries, as do both of my pocket watches. This made me think back into the last century when I got my first adult watch*.

Back in those days, watches had to be wound every morning. I wanted a watch for a long time and finally got a silver one. I think it was a birthday gift. I know I was in elementary school and from the snippet of memory I have of showing the watch to someone on a certain section of the playground at Coolidge Elementary School, I must have been in about the second grade. I wanted a watch like my dad’s, and this one was pretty similar. I was really proud of it and, being a creature of habit, I didn’t have any problem remembering to wind it up every morning when I put it on.

I wore that watch for several years, until moisture got inside it and damaged the crystal and I could no longer read the face. I’m shocked I don’t seem to have it in my possession anymore, as that is exactly the kind of thing I would typically keep no matter how useless it is now. With all the moves and things lost in the divorce, I guess maybe it isn’t so surprising.

My point to this post is about how we’ve traded reliability for convenience. That watch worked for years and I never had to spend a penny on it. The watches I have now? For just a little more than the cost of the battery one needs, I could buy a whole new watch. Two of them were gifts and are a little more expensive than your typical Wal-Mart watch, but the fact remains they are useless without a new battery every year or two. All because we, as a society, became too lazy to wind our watches in the morning.

How much damage are we doing to the earth to create hundreds of thousands of those little lithium batteries? And what happens to them when we toss them in the trash?

And why have wristwatches gone out of style? Yeah, yeah, because of the cell phone, and because so many people can’t read an analogue clock, anyway.

I guess this is a post about an old guy longing for the good ol’ days when he had to wind his watch before walking uphill to school, barefoot in the snow.

*My first watch was a TeeterTotter Watch. I remember it was blue and instead of a second hand it had a boy and a girl on a teetertotter rocking back and forth. It was obviously a kid’s watch. I don’t know what happened to it, either, but I suspect I finally threw it away because years after I quit wearing it the thing would randomly start ticking from the depths of my dresser’s junk drawer. Of course, it’s probably worth a fortune now …


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