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Ask Arthur: Is my watch obsolete?

As smartwatches and activity trackers take over the world of health and fitness, it may seem there is no room for a classic timepiece. ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK gives a reader his view.

Q: Is my traditional watch obsolete? Is it silly to have a device that only tells time?

Arthur says: There’s nothing silly about it. If telling time is important to you, and you don’t want to activate a device every time you want to tell the time, little beats a quartz- or spring-powered timepiece. 

These traditional watches have two features that smartwatches can’t match. The first is purely practical: they never need charging. 

One of the great frustrations of smartwatches is that they tend to die on you at the most inconvenient times, such as the beginning of a workday or day-long trip when it isn’t feasible to recharge. Most traditional  watches are powered by the movement of the wrist or by a small battery that lasts for years.

The second feature is one that smartwatches try to emulate, but miss the point: the “timeless” elegance of a watch with physical hands,

Here is the real secret of those old watches. They represent the sheer presence of time, rather than a digital reflection thereof. They are also marvels of miniature engineering. For this reason, classic watches are collectors’ pieces, and are among the few collectibles that do not lose their value. Even if you don’t have one of those and paid just a few hundred or thousand rands for your timepiece, you can still derive pleasure from the presence of physical hands telling you the time. 

Don’t lose that for the sake of keeping up with technology.

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