I was sorely tempted to buy the Motorola 360 – it looks gorgeous. But then the Apple watch marketing blitzkrieg hit and I was treated to image after image of a “meh” looking smartwatch. Surprisingly, it had an effect on me. It instilled a yearning to get…
…a mechanical watch instead.
Wait what? Yeah, you heard me right. A mechanical watch with cogs and gears. One that might even require winding if I don’t move around enough! “But why?” you sputter? Mechanical watches do nothing. They just tell the time – and not very well at that.
But you see, a non battery powered, non-quartz watch has something that a smartwatch doesn’t. It’s a real machine in the traditional sense of the word. And probably the only gadget in my life today that isn’t electronic. So this makes it absolutely unique in a world filled with electrical power and non moving parts.
With little clicks, ticks, tiny cogs and jewels, a mechanical watch is very reassuringly real. It’s a mind numbingly complex little world unto itself. A self contained universe requiring me to power it. I was surprised at the sudden desire to have something ticking along on my wrist completely “off the grid” so to speak.
So I searched, and searched. And guess what – they don’t come cheap. I debated long and hard about the “Swiss” label and almost settled on a Hamilton Khaki, but Anupa pulled me back from the brink. She made me see that if I wanted a watch for the mechanical aesthetics, then I must be able to look inside it. So we finally bought a well made Seiko instead.
Now I’m not a horologist – I know just enough to be satisfied that Seiko watches are very well made and reliable, even though they’re not “Swiss”. But then I reminded myself – what did I want a mechanical watch for? Swiss watches are incredibly well made, but there’s also a bit of snob value attached to them. Hamilton, which I was considering earlier, is part of the Swatch group and though they nominally have the “Swiss” label, not all their parts are manufactured in Switzerland.
So short of splurging literally thousands of dollars on a 100% “Swiss” watch, I decided to get something to fulfill my unique needs instead.
And this morning, my shiny new automatic Seiko arrived! Here are some pictures:
I love the “Open Heart” design. It has 24 jewels out of which I can just make out purple and topaz yellow. The sweeping second hand is powered by the 4R39 movement – reassuringly ticking along at 21,600 beats an hour. It’s heavy – as befitting an old world machine, and yet manufactured with breathtaking precision.
It sits with me incongruously amongst my tools of the digital age. My laptop, my smartphone, my Wi-Fi router, my MMO games, and my digital piano. It asks nothing of me other than that I wear it regularly and barring that – to at least give it a wind now and then. It’s like having a second heart beating on my wrist. A heart of steel and stone. The very last relic of a dead era of days without electricity.
And it’s that very dichotomy which appeals to me. I have no use for a smartwatch. But a compact encasing of cogs and gears? That appeals to me very much indeed.