The Wristwatch


If You Know What I Mean
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Apr 27, 2007
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I never understood why many people do not wear wristwatch. What's your reason?

The Wristwatch Is Reimagined. Will Young Shoppers Care?
HOW many tiny keypad buttons can fit on one wristwatch? At least 28. That’s the number that Hewlett-Packard packed onto its first watch, the HP-01, in 1977. It was such a strange hybrid of watch and algebraic calculator that calling it a mere watch or a calculator would not do it full justice. So HP called it a “wrist instrument.”

It was a commercial flop.

Years later, the cellphone would become an ubiquitous, multifunctional device that, incidentally, showed the time. As a result, many people younger than a certain age have never acquired the habit of wearing a wristwatch. That’s hardly news, but here’s what does surprise: H.P. and a few other companies are talking up wristwatches again, almost as if the cellphone had never appeared. It’s an idea that strikes me as oblivious to the consumer electronics landscape.

Last month at an H.P. event in Shanghai, Phil McKinney, the chief technology officer of the company’s personal systems group, displayed the MetaWatch, a prototype developed by Fossil that he described as the first generation of “the connected watch.”

This version has Bluetooth, but the long-term vision is to give it the wireless capability to be the hub of every Internet-ready portable device you own — phone, laptop, tablet. The MetaWatch would be “the mobile Wi-Fi hotspot on your wrist,” Mr. McKinney said in the presentation.

During an interview this month, he told me that he gave a talk in 2006 about his conception of the “connected watch” of the future. At the time, wireless carriers were saying that all kinds of digital devices, including laptops, would join cellphones in having their own built-in wireless radios for connectivity.

“Why not take all the radios and aggregate them into one device?” he suggested then. That one device would be the wristwatch.

It was an idea, nothing more. But last year, Mr. McKinney said, he received a call from Fossil. Executives there had heard his 2006 presentation, had been captivated by the vision, and had set about building two prototype watches — one with hands and another with digital numbers. It was the one with hands that he showed in Shanghai.

In our conversation, I told him that so little information could be displayed on the watch’s face — there is a small, scrollable window at the top and another one at the bottom — that it seemed nearly useless. But he said it would be enough for alerts, able to notify the wearer, for example, “when you’ve got 4 more e-mails, 3 Facebook updates and 10 Tweets.” He said buttons on the watch could be programmed to dispatch canned responses.

Mr. McKinney, who is 50, said that young consumers who are unaccustomed to wearing watches would still find the MetaWatch appealing. They’d use it, he said, for purposes other than timekeeping. “I hit a button and — boom — I’m checked in at Foursquare,” he offered as an example.

Has Fossil, the watch’s developer, tested the concept on focus groups or done other market research? Does it have definite plans to bring it to market? It’s not clear. Fossil declined a request for an interview or for comment. Marshal Cohen, chief retail analyst of the NPD Group, does not see the product’s appeal. The MetaWatch, he said, “was the right idea — five years ago.”

“But we now have a communications hub: the smartphone,” he added. “Technology has passed the MetaWatch by.”

Over all, the casual-watch market in the United States has hardly shriveled. According to NPD’s data, the industry had sales of about $2.35 billion in 2010, up 4 percent from 2008. In those two years, sales were up 33 percent within the 35-to-44 age group and 104 percent for those 65 and older.

Sales to the 18-to-24 age group, however, fell 29 percent. And Mr. Cohen says he doesn’t think that many of today’s young adults will ever adopt the watch-wearing habit.

Catherine Moellering, executive vice president at Tobe, a retail consulting firm, does see a new interest in watches among 11-to-17-year-olds, but she says it derives from novelty.

“The watch had disappeared so completely to these young consumers that today they could discover watches as if they had never been around before,” she said. Still, she said, this inexpensive accessory has uncertain prospects of leading to a lifetime habit.

Watches have always been a fashion accouterment as well as a utilitarian instrument. But Ms. Moellering sees young consumers paying less attention not only to watches, but also to the entire world of fashion. Fashion “is not as exciting as technology,” she said. “No store at the mall is as full as the Apple Store.”

Apple does not sell a watch, but you can buy watchband kits from LunaTik that are designed to hold a current-generation iPod Nano on the wrist. But the Nano has no wireless capabilities.

ANOTHER company, Allerta, has a Bluetooth-enabled watch that can be programmed to show alerts and brief text messages — not unlike those imagined by Mr. McKinney — that draw upon a nearby smartphone or PC.

But do we need alerts? Messages of all kinds are coming into our smartphones — we know that without having to check. So wearing a second device to tell us to look at the first device seems superfluous.

Such a watch will supply information about information. Meta indeed. 
Even before I had a cell phone, I had long stopped wearing a watch very often. While in school, there was always a clock in every room and on every computer. And I got tired of the watch catching on the cuffs of my shirts. Then the wristband broke and I never bothered to fix it. It became kind of a pocket watch. Now it sits on my bookshelf and chirps on the hour.
Who does not carry a cell phone? Your cell phone tells you the time, bright as day. Who needs a watch anymore?

The homeless may not carry a cell phone. Do they care about what time? Probably not.
I never have to reset the time on my cell phone when daylight savings time ends or begins.
The only watches I have serve as a fashion statement. :p

I hate them. They're...bulky.
Haha, I usually wear watches daily. Yes, I'm one of those rare young generation people who still wear wrist watches--probs from a habit I've done since I was a little girl.

I wanna check more of this new watch Fossil talked about. xD
I stopped wearing a watch because I sit at a computer all day for work. There's no point in wearing a watch when all it does is get in the way of your typing.
I used wearing a watch for many years till stopped last year. The watch blocked my way when I was tried to repair on the vehicles. The clocks are almost anywhere as my car, living room, job, college, my mobile,my computers, etc.

I still wear my watch for fishing, camper, hiking, touring, vacation, etc.

Yeah, I believe mobile killed watch already.
I'm probably the ones of the people who doesn't care about watches...
I liked it more since losing vision, and can have a vibrating alarm right there on my wrist.
We have about 15 clocks in our house :)eek3:)....all battery for wrist-watches, I've got so many in my jewelry box, just don't wear them, and haven't for years.....I did get my oldest son a nice watch for Xmas....he wasn't interested....maybe in a few years.
I stopped wearing watches in 1999. The next "portable clock" I got was the Sidekick II in 2005. :)
I never understood why many people do not wear wristwatch. What's your reason?

The Wristwatch Is Reimagined. Will Young Shoppers Care?
I do know that Wear Vybe and Simply Matter Ditto are may discontinued?
I am look for the Bluetooth vibration watch with notification that connect to smart phone? I dont want fancy watches. I want simly watch. Under $30.. Do you recommend it for me?

Thank you.