Anatomy of an endangered gesture

How do you answer to “What time is it?”

At the risk of becoming boring and sort of nostalgic, it’s hard for me not to notice that smart phones have slowly replaced some of my favorite objects and activities:

  1. Cameras
  2. Video cameras
  3. Books
  4. Letters
  5. Postal cards
  6. Prelude (say it isn’t so)
  7. Watches

I know this is not a news flash, it’s just that recently something happened that caused me some kind of a sentimental breakdown. I was getting ready for work, already late a bit. I got dressed, put on the right accessories: simple, chic, all black (safe-choice, easy-peasy). In the end, I placed a black leather strap watch with a silver dial on my wrist and left for work in a jiffy.

Right in front of the building I bumped into one of my colleagues who was also in a huge hurry (we’re always in such haste, it’s like someone is chasing us), her words came out in gasps: “Tell me what time it is, please, I have a meeting in town and I’m running so late”.

Me: with the laptop bag on my shoulder, a carton box with lots of magazines, my scarf on top of them (it was so damn hot in mid February, remember?) and a giant shopper bag containing my entire universe (literally). Phone in the bag of course, god knows exactly where.

I tell her to wait just a second, I drop the laptop on the floor, all magazines spread all over on the ground, my scarf is between the dog’s teeth now, which gets him really excited. Nothing matters though, I keep digging in the bag for my phone. The colleague stops me in a burst of annoyance and says:

 “Hello, there’s a watch on your wrist!”

Oh. That’s right. I have a watch that actually tells time and which I can use whenever I want. I give up looking for my phone. I check out my watch with a certain satisfaction that lasts for only one second (so to speak, I don’t know how much it lasted) because ha ha ha (that’s not funny), my watch is out of battery. Hence, it’s not working.

My colleague leaves with an ironic smile on her face, that one you would have if you wasted precious time just to find out what’s the time so you arrive punctually for your meeting. I’m left standing there with the idiot smile of someone who had an epiphany in the worst moment ever.

I have a lot of watches. I think of myself as a watch freak. I have a gold one, a pastel one, a silver one and a black one. I have watches with metallic, leather and silicone strap. I love the masculine watches because they go wonderfully both at the office and at night. I also have more elegant styles that make me look so ladylike. I’m always careful to match them to my outfit and other accessories. I know all the trends and the new models. And still, I’m not really using them.

Wearing watches nowadays is not a rare thing. Using them is an endangered gesture. I wish I saw more women gently revealing their feminine wrists when they’re asked what time it is. I wish I saw men letting the watch show up from beneath an impeccable shirt, adorned with refined cufflinks. And that’s because telling time on your watch has a timeless elegance which must not be lost. And which can never be equaled or replaced even by the most fabulous smart phone yet to be released.


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