My watch died.
More accurately the strap on my cheap old one snapped and I didn’t want to replace it because a new one would cost more than the watch was worth. So, in essence, it died. Farewell old friend.
For the past thirty years I’ve stared intermittently at my wrist and been greeted by a variety of analogue hands quietly marching forward, relentlessly, towards the future. But this time around I fancied something different. Maybe it was a chance to revisit the devices of my youth….maybe I should go digital?
I still remember the thrill of the first LED digital watch that my cousin proudly showed off when I was about seven or eight years old. At first glance it was just a black circle with a single silver button at the edge, but when that was pressed red numbers gently appeared and declared the time in their glowing, knowing way. It was almost magical.
So why not rediscover the wonder?
When you think of it a digital watch is far more useful. After all they usually have stopwatches, lights, calendars, and (if you’re really flash) a calculator. Why have one function when you can have several? It seemed so obvious. The problem came when I actually looked at what was available. Whereas the technology that first left me breathless back in the eighties has evolved beyond recognition, the designs seem to have gone backwards. Either they’re these huge multi-button leviathans that look like something from a 70s sci-fi series starring Martin Landau, or they’re so complex in their displays that I could tell the phase of the moon, how far I’d walked that day, the temperature in Peru, but have no idea what the bloody time was. The simplicity that first beguiled me had been replaced by enough plastic to rival the Academy Awards ceremony.
Another, more troubling, realisation also occurred. No matter how much I reasoned it away, I couldn’t shake the thought that, well, digital watches….they’re for kids.
How had this techno-phobic snobbery been fostered in my techno-loving heart? What possible logic would side with the idea that cogs, gears, and momentum where superior to LCD, micro circuits and computation accuracy? Was I a closet luddite? What would be next? Notepads are better than iPads? Radios finer than TVs? Three month travel by boat is a more gentlemanly way to quest than a one hour flight? Anarchy was but moments away, with my future balanced over an abyss of Betamax, CRT, and Soda-Streams.
I took a deep breath. Then it came…
A vision in retrocity. A memory in physical form. The Casio F-91W.
Oh yes, I hear you say.
Why try to recapture the past when you can, in fact, buy it?
Plus it’s cheap too! £4 on Ebay. Now those are 80s prices alright.
From the first moment I saw it I knew that here was what I was looking for. The wording had such majesty. Water Resistant – it decried! No waterproof for this one, no, it would resist water like Gandalf would resist a Balrog. Of course the odds were against it, but the safety of the ring bearer was of more import, thus the resistance would buy them time…quite fitting for something that exists solely to chronograph the passing of moments into memory.
This was indeed the same watch that I had worn with pride all those years ago. No thoughts of childishness with this one, instead a feeling of childish glee. Plus it has seven different colour backlights, and when set to the right mode they flash one after another.
Now, not only can I wear the digital form once more, but I’m bringing back disco too! Let’s boogie….