Big Wristwatch Madness

For the last number of years there has been a trend toward big wristwatches. Pardon me. Allow me to rephrase that. There has been a fashion push for gigantic watches. A big timepiece is something like a classic, men’s diver’s watch; its typical size being about 40 mm. However, for quite a while, there has been a movement toward what I can only term as arm-clocks. They are much, much bigger than classic diver’s watches.

The word wristwatch does not properly express the immense proportions of these outsized offerings. The phrase arm-clock seems more appropriate.

In the 1970s, technological innovation provided the impetus for many watch companies to move from mechanical pieces – both of the wind and automatic varieties – to quartz. Not only is quartz more accurate, it is much less expensive. Some top watchmakers continued to produce mechanical watches for connoisseurs, though.

Over time, it seems the number of connoisseurs multiplied because numerous watch companies went back to producing mechanical watches. There are those consumers who are fascinated by well made watch mechanisms. There are consumers who see watches as status symbols.

Apparently, a well made mechanism placed in an aesthetic case, attached to an equally pleasing band and marked with a prestigious name can serve as a status calling card. And, admittedly, watches can be things of beauty. Many people gravitate toward these sorts of status symbols.

Some people work very hard and want to broadcast their success to the world. Of course, this is a matter of personal taste. Other folks are content to revel in their personal triumphs without trumpeting them to the world via conspicuous consumption. But that’s another story.

However, few trends have had the ability to showcase the difference between style and fashion as the advent of the arm-clock. These clown-in-the-circus size watches scream look at me! They appear burdensome to wear. They cannot fit under shirtsleeves or jackets. Their presence is singularly dominant. And most interestingly, in the age of smart phones and other mobile devices which have time features, they are redundant.

What then is the significance of these arm-clocks? Consumers make purchases not simply on the basis of utility but on the ability of what they buy to make personal statements. This is not necessarily good or bad in and of itself, yet it does serve to express the effect that marketing has on people who have a driving need to be noticed.

As the world becomes more complex and we find ourselves increasingly lost in it, many of us want to be paid attention to. We want our aloneness alleviated. The subtext of attention grabbing status symbols is the need to feel personally relevant. Ironically, however, no amount of material things – no matter how big they are – can soothe souls made lonely by a lack of meaningful human interaction.

Then again, in the age of the reality show, maybe these arm-clocks make it more convenient for individuals to keep track of their 15 minutes of fame.

Image: Nutdanai Apikhomboonwaroot /

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