Monday, November 17, 2008

Death Watch for the Watch?

My Watches

Numerous folks commenting on this Wired post had the same thought that I did: the watch is the sixth gadget getting killed by the cell phone. (Tangentially, the mobile phone hasn't killed the laptop. It has, however, knocked off the beeper.)

Most of us grew up with watches and not cell phones. What happens with folks who grew up having both? I would be surprised if watch sales don't decline. Turns out they have already -dramatically - in some parts:

From a 2006 Businessweek article "Time's up for watch sales in Japan":
According to a new survey by Seiko Watches, the proportion of Japanese aged between 16-49 wearing wristwatches has plummeted from 70% in 1997 to 46% today. The culprit, if you haven’t already guessed, is the mighty cell phone.
Another study shows clock and watch sales both falling five percent in 2005 after four years of slow growth. Much more recently, this September '08 IHT article details declining watch sales - in this case due to the slumping economy. And anecdotally, a collegue says his wife is an 8th-grade teacher and some of her students can't tell time via a regular clock or watch. "If it wasn’t for their cell phone, they wouldn’t know what time it is."

So in the not-too-distant future, will watches be like Captain Kirk's Kirk antique bifocals? They weren't generally really necessary – just more of a antique instrument kept around for nostalgia's sake. I suspect people will keep them around for that reason, as well, of course as (often gaudy) status symbols

Lest you think this as death of the watch Schadenfreude, I have three working watches (depicted above), plus two or three others I just don't seem to be able to part with. Since none of them would fetch more than 50 bucks on eBay, guess I fit into the nostaglia category.

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