The history of the wristwatch is a storied one. At the beginning, making time portable – with the pocketwatch as far back as the 1700’s – was revolutionary, though bringing time to the wrist in the early 20th century was seen by some as a fad. The Atlantic attributes the watch’s staying power to military requirements for soldiers to have the latest ‘wearable tech’ at the time, during World War I.
Now, over a hundred years later, with how far technology has come and lifestyles have changed since timepiece beginnings, it’s a fair question to ask: does the wristwatch still interest young people today? Is the millennial generation wearing watches?
Today, wearing a watch is a personal choice, and those who choose to wear a watch are doing it based on a want, rather than a need.
A personal piece
While the stock image of a millennial may be an electronics enthusiast and social media aficionado, the Instagram age has brought about a renaissance of appreciation for cultivating a personal style. There is a large audience of millennials who choose to wear a watch for the cultured and cool look of a simple, dignified accessory – a way to complete their personal style. While the idea of a wristwatch is a classic one, there are many different styles out there, so the specific choice is deeply individual, with the power to help define a personal ‘brand’ as a true statement of character. Some Mondaine wearers, for example, describe their style as visually clean, thoughtfully detailed, or quietly bold, to name a few. Many of our customers are young graphic designers, architects, artists, bloggers, designers, and those involved in visual arts, choosing a Helvetica or SBB style as one piece of their complete look.
Rather ironically, the wristwatch has become a truly timeless piece. A clean, well-designed watch on the wrist evokes images of worldly travelers in crowded train stations, journalists working to beat an important deadline, and motivated graduates eagerly pursuing new careers. All of these scenarios involve the concept of time as an integral part of a passion, rather than an obligation. The wristwatch reminds us of a nostalgic determination and a feeling of connection to a time when the world moved, but not too fast, and in one direction: forward.
While phones and technology will continue their path of everyday ubiquity, there are still settings and situations where it’s best to keep them away. Millennials, many raised with personal devices as part of their entire lives, know better than any other generation the need to be present for in-person connection. A quick glance to the wrist to see how much time there is for lunch with a coworker before the next meeting doesn’t disturb the flow of conversation the way bringing out a phone – inadvertently leading to checking notifications and replying to messages – does. Even when living in the moment, checking the time is a necessity for getting the most out of the day and for keeping track of time without wasting it.