Posts Tagged ‘watch’

As I’ve mentioned previously, I am a fledgling watch collector. I currently own about a dozen wristwatches and three pocket watches. I am also a member on several online watch forums, where people get together and talk about – what else? – watches. They post photos of their latest purchases, there are all sorts of philosophical discussions about the merits of one brand or movement over another, and there’s even some buying and selling and swapping going on.

The part that stands out to me in all of this is the diversity in the forum members’ locations – the main forum I visit is based in Sweden, and there are members on it from every continent except Antarctica. You could find yourself posting a question, and having no two responses coming from the same country or even the same time zone – say, the first from Australia, followed by Germany, Canada, somewhere in the Caribbean, India, South Korea, and so forth. Many different backgrounds, many different lives and lifestyles, but all brought together by a common interest.

Members also help other members with locating and sometimes purchasing watches that are not always available in their home countries. I was recently involved in two such transactions – one for a watch I wanted that is made and sold only in India, and one for a U.S.-sold watch another member in England wanted for his collection, but could not afford to get shipped to him otherwise. Thanks to online ordering, global financial transaction services like PayPal, and the skillful mastery of each home country’s postal systems, these types of activities go on all the time and are perfectly safe. The watch I received from India took less than a week to travel halfway around the world, while the one I sent to England saved its new owner about 2/3 of the original cost he was quoted. Both arrived at their destinations in pristine condition.

I use all of this to illustrate how much smaller the world has become here in the age of the Internet. The transformation has been dramatic: in about the same amount of time it has taken for my daughter to grow up to adulthood, our society has moved from slow, crude (compared to today), one-to-one computer bulletin board systems (BBS’s) to sophisticated websites and e-mail services. Simple text files were a major stumbling block in the BBS days, and sending graphics like photos to one another was unthinkable; now, we can have live streaming video from the other side of the world sent to our desktops with a picture quality that rivals cable TV. Those watch transactions would have been impossible to complete or consider. Even this blog’s graphical appearance was unimaginable all those years ago. The latest breakthrough? Being able to carry the Web with you in your pocket or anywhere else in the world using smartphones or laptop computers and wireless networks.

What’s next? That’s hard to predict, but one thing is certain: the world will be even smaller then than it is now, and the generations to come will likely shake their heads and wonder how we were able to accomplish so much in our “larger” world.


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?