8. Watches

Since my earliest memories I have never been without a watch (or a handkerchief). Watches were wound by hand and had a leather or fabric strap – some still do. They told the time, had two or three pointers and that was that.

Then there was ‘digital’! There became a time (no pun intended) when the watch with pointers was no longer ‘in’ – watches had to have numbers. The thing was, if the new ones are digital, what were the old ones? And so the term analogue was coined.

At that time a new visual display, the light emitting diode (LED) had just been invented. Calculators, clocks and watches had to have them. The problem was that they consumed so much electricity that they could not be lit all the time so watches had a button to be pressed to light-up the numbers. This novelty soon wore off and the liquid crystal display with its square numbers became popular. We all had to have one and the price soon fell to the extent that the dearest thing about them was the battery. Telling the time was not enough, of course and one had to have a metal strap and a thing that went ‘bleep’ every hour. This was really irritating in large gatherings and only showed that very few watches show the same time as the beeps could go in for several minutes.

Such was the complexity of these timers that almost all of them had the same microchip on board, but the more expensive versions could be used as stopwatches and tell the time in Bulgaria as their particular contacts had been wired-up, whereas the bog-standard ones did not.

As time progressed, people realised they quite liked pointers after all so many watches now have both pointers and a digital readout with the day and date as an added bonus.

It may well be that the wrist-borne watch disappears as many people use their smartphone to tell the time.


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