Where is the Time? | 2403

like many millennials, believed I didn’t need a watch because since the year 2000 I always had a mobile phone with me.

Full Show Notes: https://www.thejaymo.net/2024/04/08/301-2403-where-is-the-time/

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Where is the Time?

A month ago, for the first time in my adult life, I bought a watch and I was wearing it at a wedding over the weekend. As the evening reception wore on, I found people peering over my shoulder to look at my watch and catch the time. Or ask me directly what the time was. It’s a curious phrase β€œDo you have the time”.

But what interests me this week, is where do I have it? 

The watch itself is nothing special, a CASIO A168WA-1WDF. It looks like the classic F91-W that basically everyone my age owned when they were a child. Only rather than rubberised plastic, its body and strap is made from stainless steel.

I bought it on eBay, but on arrival and inspection it turns out it’s a knock off. Made entirely from aftermarket parts. Which is why I guess it was 10 quid rather than the 30 had I purchased it straight from CASIO. 

Anyways, those of you who read my weeknotes will know that the reason I bought it was because I wanted to stop checking my phone for the time. I, like many of you, often wake my phone to check the time and end up getting sucked in. Now a month on, I’m pleased to report that the average number of times I unlock my phone every day has dropped by about 15%.

I’m currently down to well under 70 unlocks. Which is great. 

I should mention that all three clocks at the wedding venue were wrong. Which is why everyone was asking me for the time. The bar clock was fast, the wall clock in the main room had stopped and the clock in the room where we ate dinner hadn’t been changed yet after the move to summer time the other week and was an hour slow. 

I think the people asking me for the time at the wedding apart from this was somewhat driven by the fact I was wearing a watch at all. 

When I was growing up in the late 90’s early 2000’s, I had two beliefs related to the main emerging tech of the period. The mobile phone

The First: I, like many millennials my age alongside me at the wedding, thought that I didn’t need a watch because since the year 2000 I always had my phone on me which has the time on it.

Secondly: That the warnings of my maths teacher in 1999 saying: “You need to learn all this stuff because you won’t always have a calculator with you” was a load of old rubbish. 

So, 25 years on, how do these beliefs hold up?

Let’s take the calculator first. In 2003-06 I did an Arts and Humanities degree. Which both you and I would presume to mean that didn’t need maths at all. But boy was I wrong. 2 years of logic of language disabused the idea that I would never need Algebra. And in my music tech classes we had to learn the fundamentals of synthesis. Which to my horror required calculus. Calculating rates of change and the slopes of curves etc. 

Then as a project (and later) operations manager in the startup world, because I was comfortable with maths, equations and manipulating lots of data I became an excel and SQL query guy.

In 2024 calculators are now in every phone, computer operating system, browser, and search engine. Yet despite all that access, the first thing I do whenever I start a job or contract in an actual office, is to go out and expense a large desktop calculator. I prefer one with an eye-angled display and cartoonishly large buttons.

So screw you Mr Fergusson I was in fact always going to have a calculator with me when I grew up.

Not needing a watch however, has become a more tricky position as I’ve grown older. On principle I would say that this belief was a correct one – I have never not had the time on me since I was 15. Of course, this hasn’t stopped me from being late to things all my life. But at least I have always been aware of just how late I was going to be.

But relying on my phone to know the time for the last 24 years has become fraught with danger. I first noticed the relationship to time and smartphone use during the pandemic. In fact, I made a whole episode on how TikTok hides a phone’s clock entirely and linked this to doom scrolling and consumption. Now, I would go as far to say that this is immoral. But it’s taken 4 more years of creeping dissatisfaction with my phone’s clock to do anything about it.

When I was away in Thailand in January I didn’t need to know or care what the time was for several weeks. But I noticed that when I did check the clock on my phone for the time it was the gateway to the rest of it contents. I’d pick it up and then look at my emails, check instagram or whatever. 

The smart phone, the object that possessed the time, was using the time as a lure inorder for its contents to possess me.

Which is why I bought a watch. 

Moving clock time off the distraction device onto my wrist has been refreshing. I’m sure loads of you are rolling your eyes at this, but for the first time in my life β€˜the time’ has been accessible with just flourish. Never has there been a more perfect UX.

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2 responses to “Where is the Time? | 2403”

  1. Pete Ashton avatar

    A mild corrective from a Gen X-er – prior to mobile phone ubiquity not everyone wore a watch. I stopped wearing one (more accurately didn’t replace a broken one) around 1995 because I was at Birmingham Uni and there was a giant fuckoff clock tower visible from the whole campus. After that I worked in a bookshop with a clock on the til. But mostly it felt like time wasn’t that important to get right. I have a pretty good sense that I wasn’t an outlier. Having a clock on you all the time was not *that* normal.

  2. […] ⌚ CASIO A168WA-1WDF […]

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