Four Reasons You Still Need a Wristwatch

Self-Expression, Ease of Use, Proper Etiquette, and Class Make the Wristwatch a Good Investment

Philadelphia-based watch manufacturer Cadence Watch Company recently conducted a survey to ask its customers “why buy a watch when you have a cell phone?” The results reveal that 48% of respondents buy watches primarily as fashion accessories.  The second most common reason for buying a watch (22%) is ease of use.  Finally, 9% of respondents buy watches to avoid the impoliteness of checking the time on one’s cell phone.

“I constantly get asked ‘what do I need a watch for since I have a cell phone,’” says Vanya Buvac, founder of the Cadence Watch Company.  So he decided to run a survey to let customers answer the question for him.  The results were insightful and amusing.  “We were surprised to see how many people were concerned with etiquette.”  On the lighter side, some of the responses were downright funny.  Some of the favorite responses were:

“Can’t wear a cell phone on your wrist!”
“If you attached your cell phone to your wrist, you would look like a moron.”
“Pockets are annoying.”
“Why wear pants when you have underpants?”
“Why have a cell phone when you have the sun?”

Many of Cadence’s consumer base feel that watches are fashion items, while cellular phones are still used primarily for their more technical functions.  Alluding to the cell phone’s rise in popularity as a time-telling device, one respondent admits “a watch is more of an accessory now,” adding “but it needs to look cool.”

As smartphones become all the more capable of a variety of tasks, one respondent insists that “a watch can do more than inform you of time.  [It] can show off style, taste, and in the case of the math-themed Radian watch, help me with my trigonometry from time to time.”

Several respondents thought of wristwatches as social currency, or conversation-starters.  In this sense, wristwatch purchasers were interested in how wearing a watch would influence both the opinions of others and interactions with others.  One respondent wrote, “I enjoy having watches that turn heads and prompt people to ask about them.”  Another responded that watches are a “way to differentiate yourself and add a personal touch in an otherwise drab and relatively uniform work environment.”

“I wear a watch to look good”

This one almost goes against the fashion/self-expression category.  Almost.  It’s true—you can’t wear your cell phone on your wrist.  But even if you could, would you?  One respondent described cell phones as too “clunky” to reach for when looking for the time.  Several respondents stated that “you can’t wear a cell phone on your wrist.”  A wristwatch is definitely easier (and less impolite!  See reason 3) to check when in conversation and has a longer battery life (if it is battery-operated) than a cell phone.  Not to mention, as of yet, you can’t very easily check your cell phone while skydiving.

According to the results of the Cadence survey, a large proportion of respondents find using a cell phone as a time-telling device highly inappropriate and rude in many situations.  These respondents asserted that “cell phones belong in your coat pocket when they are not being used,” and “it is impolite and distracting looking at a cell phone in class, meetings, etc.”  Perhaps surprisingly, the majority of respondents who found the wristwatch to be a more courteous (and superior) form of time-telling were under the age of twenty-five.

Finally, there is a far less tangible motivator for buying a watch that became all the more important with the rise of the cell phone.  As one customer put it, “There is a beauty to watches that phones just can’t match.”  Other responses echoed this sentiment.  In fact, 10% of all responses explicitly described watches as either “classic,” or “classy.”  To sum up the je ne sais quoi element of the wristwatch, one respondent wrote, “A cell phone has no soul.  A watch does.”

So, why buy a watch when you have a cell phone?  Although the wristwatch continues to lose its once-unique utility, its appeal still exists in a more abstract form.  The wristwatch remains a classic symbol of class and elegance.  One might even say it’s timeless—pun intended.

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