Rustic Cyberpunk

Coffee & Cabins

Switching to Digital

3 min read

I got the habit of wearing a watch from my dad. I never saw him without his Hamilton, which I think he got as a gift in the 1970s. When mobiles always had the time, it seemed outdated to continue this cultural holdover, but there were plenty of times when I didn't have have a watch on me and wished I did.

A watch isn't Earth-shatteringly critical in modern civilization, since I can usually ask someone for the time if my phone is dead or unavailable, but I've been away from modern civilization enough times for dedicated portable time to matter.

I dislike most watches. Beyond just the battery headaches, time inconsistency, reliability issues, or inflated prices.

I don't know when it became a rule that men's watches need to approach the diameter of Jupiter or have a face busier than Broadway and 7th Ave in New York. Most of them tend to flop around my tiny wrist, even when adjusted to the lowest strap size, and the faces give me flashbacks to algebra class in high school. I realize this makes me sound even more like Andy Rooney.

Whenever possible, I've been using mechanical watches because I always forget to change batteries in quartz watches. I have no loyalty to any particular brand, but they've been more durable in the kind of situations I find myself having to muddle through, and I wear them often enough that the cheapest automatics are more than sufficient. Solar-powered watches have largely been out of my budget.

I've had my Seiko 5 for years. I liked it immediately because the watch face was clear and it wasn't large enough to distort spacetime. I don't remember exactly when I got it, but it has outlived its original NATO strap by a league and reached almost the end of the metal replacement's life.

I discovered the Seiko had a flaw in its movement that, over time, caused the auto-winder weight to become loose and possibly damage the cam. I've repaired it myself several times, but adjusting it repeatedly became a chore. Mechanical watches tend to gain or lose seconds much more easily. This is true of even high-end watches. My Seiko was routinely slower by several minutes after just a month.

Originally bought for around $35, as I recall, I tried to buy it again, but it now sells for $115 - $140 on Amazon. I've seen the same black version on eBay for nearly $200. I don't believe this is purely due to inflation. And it's far more than I can afford to spend on a convenience at present.

Seiko SNK809 with metal replacement strap and Casio W800HG-9AV with repaired strap loop

I recently bought this Casio for around $12. The resin strap loop got caught on something and snapped, but I managed to make a new one with duct tape I had at home. Buying a new strap, which costs almost as much as a new watch, or spending money on replacement loops felt silly. If the resin strap breaks entirely, I can swap it out with the metal strap, which still has at least a year's worth of life left, from the Seiko. Durability and repairability are my most sought-after traits in physical technologies.

The Casio has everything I need from a watch. I doubt I'd ever need to test its water resistance to anywhere near the stated maximum depth, but it's good to know I don't have to worry too much about a bit of rain or snow, just like the Seiko. It's immediately clear to read, requires no manual to operate for basic functions and I'm not going to be sorry if it's broken, lost, or stolen. Although, I can't imagine why anyone would want to steal a $12 watch.

Despite not being mechanical, I won't need to remember to replace the Casio's, claimed 10-year, battery for a good while. Especially since I don't really use the backlight function.

It's the most mechanical non-mechanical watch I've used so far.