Reader survey: do you wear a watch?

Blogging from the Detroit airport, where I just read this surprising assertion by Patricia Marx in the New Yorker:

“I don’t think I know anyone under thirty who admits to habitually strapping on a watch.”

(Aside: kudos to the split infinitive here, annoying to the wrongly fussy but so much better than the officially approved “to the habitual strapping on of a watch,” or, lord help us, “habitual strap-on.”. Of course the whole difficulty could have been avoided by removing the needless “admits to.”)

Now I myself went years without wearing a watch. And it seemed to me this made me a weird and constantly inconvenienced exception. Urban spacetime is designed under the assumption that you’re wearing a watch. And are carrying a phone. Five years ago I dropped my dopey nonconformist principles and got one of each.

But: I have just carried out a visual survey of the Northwest terminal, and indeed, less than half the people I can see are wearing watches. And the watch-wearers skew old. Is Patricia Marx right? Have I been — how embarrassing!– beaten to a fashion shift by the New Yorker? Under-thirty readers, do you wear a watch?


43 thoughts on “Reader survey: do you wear a watch?

  1. Noah Snyder says:

    Nope, don’t wear a watch. Stopped wearing one when I got a cell phone (which is the point behind this trend, if you want to know what time it is you look at your phone).

  2. Jim Fowler says:

    The soon-to-be-released Watch Phone will change this.

  3. Simon says:

    I’m 23, wear a watch, and do not carry a phone.

  4. Jim says:

    I used to wear a watch. Then one morning in 2005, after a merry night, I woke up to find the winding peg (?) gone. I couldn’t find a watch I liked at the local mall, and once I got a new phone it didn’t matter. Never looked back. I bet now most people only wear them as jewelry or as a matter of habit.

  5. Michael Childers says:

    While I do not wear a wristwatch, I have a “pocket” watch I keep on my belt loop, in addition to the requisite phone. I used to use the phone for time keeping, but the watch is more convenient.

    To be fair, I’ve always fancied pocket watches moreso than wristwatches and had attempted several times to keep one before most recently, so I may be weird in my keeping of one.

  6. Well, I’m 21 and I’ve always worn a watch. I don’t pay enough attention to other people’s wrists to provide an informed opinion on the proportion of those who do, I do know quite a few people who don’t wear one. As you note, life operates under the assumption that they already have a phone, so they just pull it out and check the clock display whenever they want to know the time.

  7. (As an aside, I don’t think “habitually” is splitting any infinitives in that sentence, as “to… strapping” is not an infinitive. At least, Wikipedia tells me that an infinitive of a verb in English “is its basic form with or without the particle to” of the verb – that is, “strap” or “to strap”. Mind you, I don’t have the grammatical knowledge to actually describe what’s going on in that sentence, and I don’t have any problem with splitting infinitives in any case.)

  8. Jeff Haack says:

    I too am under 30 and wear a watch. I did go through a stretch of a 2-3years where I didn’t wear one (I had lost the previous one), but my wife got me a nice one as a wedding present, so I’ve been wearing that ever since!

  9. Frank says:

    no. (although I’m less under-thirty than I wish.) That’s why cell phones have clocks on them.

    Although I’m tempted to buy a Patek Philippe. I wouldn’t really own it, I’d just hold on to it for the next generation.

  10. Ken Ribet says:

    Why travelers in an airport terminal might not be sporting watches:

    1. They’re afraid of setting off metal detectors, so they pack their watches away when they go through security.

    2. They’ve read Nicolas Kristof (especially item #10).

  11. JSE says:

    Noah: but I carry a phone, and when my watch broke it was clear I needed a new watch! To get the time from your phone, you have to take your phone out from wherever it’s stashed — and on my phone, at least, you have to then push a button to light up the screen. A watch is attached to your body and you can always see it.

    Bismuth: Alas, I think you are right: the word “to” misled me, but in fact “strapping” is just a verb in the progressive and I think even persnickety prescriptivists would accept this sentence as 100% kosher. Well, so much the worse for the New Yorker — I should have known better than to give them credit for flexible copyediting.

  12. Toby says:

    Like Jeff, I wear a watch because my wife gave me a nice one as a wedding gift (and because I like wearing it, of course). I’m under 30 (just), too. I didn’t wear one for at least 6 years before that, though – as soon as I got a cellphone, in fact.

    I can think of quite a few friends who are just over 30 and wear watches – they all work in the city, though, and like somewhat expensive watches. I have no idea about anyone else, but would be surprised if as many as 1 in 3 people in their 20s wears a watch.

  13. John says:

    I never wore a watch in college. There were clocks everywhere, including one on a huge tower that could be seen from everywhere.

    I wore a watch for a while after that, until I broke my watch on a bike ride and realized I didn’t need it because I usually have a cell phone or iPod with me.

  14. Richard Kent says:

    I wear a watch, but I guess I’m over the hill at 31.

  15. John Cowan says:

    I am now almost fifty-one, and have only worn a watch for brief periods, partly because both leather and metal bands cause a bad skin reaction. I have a (barebones) cell phone, but only use it to get the time in exceptional circumstances, as when walking down the street and wondering if I should walk faster. Normally there are more than enough clocks in the environment.

    Here in my living room: the PC’s clock, the DVR’s clock, the DVD/VCR player’s clock, a battery-powered analog clock over the door. Just out of sight: the microwave’s clock in the kitchen. Alarm clocks in both bedrooms down the hall. At work, the desktop’s clock and the laptop’s clock. About the only time I’ve noticed the lack of visible clocks, ironically, is at the airport/bus station/train station, which used to be loaded with them. (Even now, arrival/departure displays generally include the time.)

    There’s no clock in the subway and the cell phone’s clock doesn’t work there unless I take the trouble to put the phone in airplane mode, but then there’s no real need for one either: if I’m late, there’s nothing I can do about it for the moment.

  16. Dave says:

    Ditto Richard Kent.

  17. Noah Snyder says:

    My phone also has a button, but relative to getting a phone out of my pocket the added time of pressing the button isn’t a big deal.

    I guess there just aren’t that many times per day when I need to know the time, I’m not at a computer or with someone who is at a computer, and I don’t also need the internet. For example, if I’m catching a bus then I need to go to nextbus anyway, so I might as well get out my phone.

    Also with watches they would break every so often and then they’d end up in my pocket for a while before I managed to get a new one. Having a watch and a phone in my pocket is just silly, so the first time my watch broke after I had a phone I never got around to getting a new watch.

  18. Matt Bucher says:

    I’m 32 and not only do I wear a watch everyday, I’ve worn the same wrist watch (a Swatch) for 24 years.

  19. I don’t wear a watch, and, while I’m over thirty, I stopped sometime in my mid-twenties. At that time, I switched to a pocket watch, but more recently I started just carrying a cell phone like a modern person.

    This past semester, I experimented with lecturing without a watch or any other chronometer in the room, in part as a way to get me to slow down a little. This turned out to be much easier than I anticipated; I only had to ask the class for the time once or twice. (I’m in a building with a clock tower, so there were chimes every 15 minutes and there’s a high-school like buzzer at the end of class, so there’s no risk of running over…)

  20. David says:

    I’m 21, and I wear a watch almost every day.

  21. abm says:

    I’m 23, and I normally wear a watch, but haven’t done so recently due to leaving my watch at my parents’ house and being too lazy to buy a replacement. I do however find it inconvenient to have to take my phone out of my pocket and press the button.

  22. Andy P. says:

    I’m 29, and I wear a watch maybe 50% of the time. It depends on whether I remember to pick it up in the morning.

  23. Christine says:

    I don’t wear a watch anymore. I used to until it broke and I got lazy about replacing it. Recently thinking about re-watching though.

  24. Jay says:

    I find a watch much more useful than my phone. When the band broke, I started carrying it in my pocket.

  25. Richard says:

    I don’t think I wore a watch through most of my undergraduate years. At some point I started using my father’s fine old wind up pocket watch with a deer engraved on the back. I preferred not having a big wart on my wrist, but the pocket watch was quite heavy in the pocket, and I grew tired of that. Now by necessity I wear a small light weight wrist watch, and remove it when I’m at home. When I retire that watch will probably not be used much at all. I think that constant monitoring of your watch, like constant monitoring of your cell phone, is a nervous habit that’s not healthy.

  26. Alana says:

    I am not under 30, but when I was, I wore a watch. And in my mid-to-late 20s I only sometimes carried a cell phone.

  27. Dirk Awesome says:

    I’m 32, but I haven’t worn a watch since the 2nd grade. I tried to briefly when I was 21, but I couldn’t stand it.

    I also do not have a cell phone.

  28. Adam says:

    I would say that wearing a watch is a mark of a modern person. Those of you who check your cell phones (and I agree with our host that this is really inconvenient), are post-modern.

  29. JSE says:

    I disagree — postmodern is when you have an iPhone app that displays a watch face on the screen of your phone, and ticks.

  30. Adam says:

    I’m 23 and wear a watch. I’ve worn a watch since I was in second grade, and I feel lost without one. I just finished my first year of grad school, and I think I would’ve had more trouble teaching my calculus classes without one.

    Incidentally, I notice that my display name is the same as the author of comment number 28, so I want to clarify that I am not the same person.

  31. Rebecca says:

    I’m 23 and I wear a watch, although sometimes I attach it to my belt loop. There were a few stretches when I was a kid when I didn’t, but I’ve worn one most of my life. Most people my age just look at their cellphones, but I find a watch much more convenient.

  32. David Speyer says:

    I used to wear a watch every day. Right now, I have a watch I don’t like that much, and I don’t have very many scheduled events during the summer, so I wear it about half the time. But I can’t imagine teaching or lecturing without a watch! How do you decide which asides to include and which to cut? When to cut of discussion and when to encourage it?

  33. I wear a watch and hardly ever carry the cellphone I grudgingly own. I am also old.

  34. Michelle says:

    I only wear a watch when I teach, because none of our classes have clocks. I don’t like to bring my cell phone to class, and I can’t check it quickly & easily while lecturing, as I can with a watch.

    But I never wear a watch otherwise. I don’t want the tan lines. There, I said it.

  35. Rui says:

    Haha, I’m 15, And I wear a watch every single day everywhere, except when showering (or sex xD), although its like 200m WR. I had a watch since I was um.. 8 years old? and I just couldn’t live without one, I’m into the ‘pull my sleeve up’ motion. I do have a Cell Phone and PDA and sometimes Ipod in my pocket… but come on, its a waste of time just taking it out. and looking at school clocks or building clocks are just weird, they have different times :D

  36. Kevin says:

    I had to stop wearing a watch because every time I would listen to my iPod, the earbud cord would catch on the watch.

  37. Vlad says:

    Been wearing a watch since fourth grade, I’m finishing up high school next year.

  38. sam says:

    i love wearing watches and always wear one.i have been wearing watches since i was 10.i like black or brown leather straps and golden watches.i never put off my watch in 24 hours,even in bed or in shower.i take it off only once in a week or so.i’m 21 and a student. it feels really unsmart staying in a hostel without my watch.i study and sleep in briefs under my pyjamas with my watch always on.this is the same with my girlfriend and all my friends in our hostel.

  39. Skinny Andy says:

    i wear a watch when i go out.. i dont like to look at the time in my phone in public….

  40. Aaron F. says:

    I’m 23, and I wear a watch basically every time I leave the house, unless I’m pretty sure I won’t need to know the time while I’m out. I have a phone, but I think it’s a hassle to dig it out every time I want to know what time it is. The periods when I leave my phone turned off also overlap a lot with the periods when I care what time it is!

  41. Robert D says:

    When I was a child I wore a watch.

    When I became an adult, I put away childish things.

    haha, I don’t know why I said that.

    I basically stopped wearing a watch because they pinch my skin.
    I didn’t carry any time piece for at least a decade … I didn’t like cellphones either because they make annoying noises, and people try to call you when you were enjoying the quiet.

    But now that I have a smartphone (love that mobile internet), it has the time.

  42. Michelle says:

    Wearing a watch has always been a status quo. I own at least 50 watches that I interchange daily. It would be totally impossible to depend on my cell phone for time. Not only does my watch provide me with an accurate account of the time of day it’s also an important part of my daily attire.

  43. Charlotte says:

    I’m 24 and I’ve found this to be a fairly reliable way to gauge if a guy is over 30…

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