Time Machines

   Posted by: Michael Bernier   in Yesterday's Memories

Do you own a wristwatch? These days, it seems more and more people don’t, relying instead on their cell phones and computers to give them the time. There are some people who say the wristwatch will become obsolete in 50 years, or even less. Of course, 50 years ago there were people saying we would all be getting around in flying cars by now…and we know how right they were about that.

I like wristwatches. I have several, most of them battery-powered quartz watches, but I do have some that are mechanical; in fact, my newest one is the most old-fashioned of all – a wind-up watch. If you’re around my age, more than likely you learned how to tell time with a wind-up wristwatch your parents gave you for your birthday, or that Santa brought you for Christmas. That’s how I started, proudly wearing a “big” shiny Timex on my wrist. You don’t see new wind-up watches very often these days; usually they are made and sold in far-away places such as China or India. My new wristwatch was made in India by a company that has been using the same design since the early 1960s. It’s very simple and inexpensive (about $12), but at the same time it’s a prime example of the old saying “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

I think of wristwatches as little “time machines” (no pun intended) that help us look back and remember people and places and events. I have one that was given to me as a Father’s Day gift when my youngest child was not yet a year old. He’s 13 now, and while the watch may have some scratches and dings on it, it’s still there reminding me of the days before my son knew anything about computers or video games. And, it will continue to remind me when he heads off to college in a few years. Likewise, this new wind-up wristwatch reminds me of my own youthful days, when my life didn’t have all the complexities of maintaining a house, earning an income, and raising a family. Another one I have was given to me by my mother-in-law shortly after my father-in-law passed away, and brings back memories of his kind and gentle nature.

How about you? Do you have your own “time machines”? Perhaps yours is also a wristwatch or a piece of jewelry passed down to you, a well-worn stuffed animal, or maybe a hat or other piece of clothing. What memories are they holding for you?

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7 comments so far


I’ve always been really fond of pocket watches. I’m not sure what it is about them, but there’s just something about them that appeals to me.

As for symbols of time, I’ve always been drawn to the hourglass. I also really like the fact that if you turn one on its side, it forms an infinity symbol.

March 18th, 2010 at 7:48 am
Julie Carriker

This is LOVELY, Mike! You have the soul of a poet. You’re taken my mind on a trip back to special items from my past.

Where did you find a wind-up watch? I’d love to have one, (no batteries to replace!). I may have to look for one.

March 18th, 2010 at 10:23 pm

Hi Scott, thanks for the comments. I happen to own some pocket watches as well, but don’t look at them very often. I like owning them but they don’t really appeal as much to me, probably because they’re a little less convenient to use than a wristwatch.

I hadn’t considered an hourglass as a sign of infinity; I guess I’ve always looked at them as a finite measurement of time…when the sand’s gone, time’s up. Since the sand doesn’t move when it’s on its side, I suppose that can be another analogy for infinity. That’s quite clever…thank you for sharing that concept!

March 18th, 2010 at 10:51 pm

Hi Julie, I’m glad I could help you take your own trip back in time!

A poet’s soul, eh? If that’s true, I wonder why I can’t get more than two lines to rhyme at any given moment?

You can actually find a lot of vintage wind-up watches on auction sites like eBay. This particular one is brand new, and came from India. They have a state-run watch factory that has been making these same watches for almost 50 years, and they are sold only within the country. The only way you can get them is to either go there and buy one, or get someone there to buy one for you and have it shipped. I’m a member of an international watch forum with several members in India; one of them arranged to get the watch and send it to me. The novelty is in the fact that it’s such an old design, but still being made.

Thanks for the comments!

March 18th, 2010 at 11:00 pm

As technology advances, I expect that our time-keeping devices and cell-phone devices will merge. That will make your collection even more unique!

So what do you think will be more likely? Will watches also become phones, or will our phones eventually become bracelets that will make them also watches? My mind has a lot of designs coursing through it and I’m anxious to see what the future brings to this!

March 23rd, 2010 at 3:13 pm

Hi Deneen! I’m not sure if watches as they are today will entirely disappear; for that matter, there has actually been an increase in interest around mechanical watches in recent years.

That being said, I do expect there will be more merging of technologies as we move forward. Cell phones get smaller and smaller every year, while the trend in watches is to make them only slightly larger. My expectation is someone will shrink a phone down and put it on a bracelet (so it looks like a digital watch) long before anyone tries adding phone service to a mechanical watch.

Thanks for the comments!

March 23rd, 2010 at 3:25 pm
Julie Carriker

Hi, Mike,

Thanks for the info on the watch. I may look online, but I’d really like to be able to see a watch ‘in person’ before I buy it, so I may just have to wait to get lucky and see one somewhere.

Also, poetry doesn’t necessarily have to rhyme, and I DO think you have the soul of a poet.

March 26th, 2010 at 10:02 pm

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