Wristwatches — more than just telling time by AZALEA AZUAR

These timepieces are all about status and lifestyle. It’s a form of accessory for both men and women

IN THIS day and age, physical clocks seem to be obsolete. We may have as many as five clocks hanging on the walls of our homes or offices, and there is a clock continuously on display when we work on our computers or laptops, but more often than not, we’d turn our smartphone screens on to check the time.

Watches, however, are not only still being widely used, but are becoming increasingly popular and trendy.

If everything is on smartphones these days, why are people still strapping these timepieces on their wrists?

The National Jeweller’s editor-in-chief Michelle Gruff carried out a survey on Facebook to find the answers to this question. The reasons given by the respondents were not surprising and they varied between genders.

Most of the male respondents said watches are the only form of accessory or “jewellery” they can wear, while female respondents said they wear watches because it’s easier than having to dig for their smartphones from their purses, as most of them do not have adequate pockets to stuff their smartphones in.

Women also consider watches as accessories that compliment their outfits, which explain why most of them have more than one watch.

(From left) Seiko Watch Corp management planning department (Asia 1) GM Kinuyo Sakata, Lim, designer Junpei Matsue and representative from the marketing department Atsushi Shinkai at the relaunch of the Seiko 5 Sports Collection at ECO City Mall in Kuala Lumpur

A Reflection of Lifestyle and Status

Thong Sia Sdn Bhd GM Michael Lim said a watch is a symbol of status.

“Although we can’t go through the day without checking the time every now and then, that is not what the watch is really for anymore. It is about status and lifestyle,” he said during the launch of Seiko 5 Sports on Oct 2.

The Seiko 5 Sports watches, for example, despite the name, reflect a holistic lifestyle instead of just being a watch for outdoor activities.

With their rugged functions, the designs of the watches in this collection make them suitable for both business and leisure.

On the other hand, there are those who spend a hefty buck on luxury watches as potential investment by auctioning them off at higher value.

To do this, one needs to do some research on brands, models and the uniqueness of their design and technology.

Popular examples include TAG Heuer Carrera, Panerai Luminor, IWC Portugieser Chronograph and the Omega Seamaster.

Some watches are only meant for personal use, not investment

Personal Items

For Lim, some watches are only meant for personal use, not investment.

He said watches are so personal that they should not even be purchased online, as one needs to physically try them on and see if it suits them.

“Sure, you can buy cheaper watches online, but if you are talking about the expensive ones, you first need to hold the watch in your hands, touch and have a feel of it before making the purchase.

“Watches are also still meaningful gifts for loved ones, commonly given on Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and anniversaries, among others. Even if they are not worn, they are often kept for many years.”

The Seiko 5 Sports watches reflect a holistic lifestyle instead of just being a watch for outdoor activities

Popular Trends

Since watches are treated as trendy fashion accessories, the styles are bound to change almost every year. Watch trend spotters would head to Baselworld, the largest show for watches, precious stones and jewellery.

Organised by MCH Group AG, the six-day event in Basel, Switzerland, attracts 100,000 visitors from all over the world.

Last year’s event put the spotlight on vintage-inspired watches, naked watches (watches that display the movement) and the colour blue.

Baselworld 2019, held in March, was all about small-sized watches which measured less than 40mm and bronze watches.

“Today, mechanical watches are popular, be it vintage or sporty,” said Lim, adding that this is why the Seiko 5 Sports collection was revamped. Its youthful-looking mechanical sports watches represents the users’ unique sense of style.

“We are not so focused on attracting the older age groups (for this particular collection) because we have other mechanical watches for more mature customers such as Prospex and Presage.”

Recently launched in Malaysia, the Seiko 5 Sports consists of five variants namely Sports, Suits, Specialist, Street and Sense, ranging from RM1,120 to RM1,390.

Mechanical watches are popular, be it vintage or sporty. That is why the Seiko 5 Sports collection was revamped to represent the users’ unique sense of style

A Long History

Since the olden days, watches were created with fashion in mind.

While many companies claimed to have invented the first wristwatch, in truth, there had never been a patent for it.

History has it that the first wristwatch was created for the Queen of Naples in 1812. Back then, wristwatches were primarily worn by women as men preferred using pocket watches.

World War I changed everything as wristwatches were more practical for soldiers to wear in combat.

Having a watch strapped on their wrists also enabled soldiers to measure the timing of a bombardment easily.

Swiss watch manufacturer, Girard-Perregaux made 2,000 wristwatches for Emperor Wilhelm I of Germany who ordered them for his naval officers during the 1880s.

Smartwatches, the Future

Technology is becoming more sophisticated, what with smartphones and smart TVs. We even have smart houses which control home appliances via the Internet of Things (IoT).

Looks like we are finally living in sciencefiction. Since smartwatches also operate through IoT, they are usually paired with smartphones via Bluetooth or WiFi, where mobile app notifications pop up on the watch.

They even include special safety features. Take the Apple Watch Series 4 and Series 5 which comes with a fall detection system.

How the system works is that the Apple watch would detect the user’s movement and they would know whether they have fallen.

The watch will display a notification to inform the user to respond within 60 seconds.

If the user does not do so, it will automatically contact authorities on the user’s behalf.

Fitness enthusiasts also use smartwatches to track their heartbeat — how many steps they have taken in a day, how many calories they have consumed or burned and even monitor their sleep pattern.

If you are cycling, jogging or hiking in unfamiliar territories, the smartwatches are also installed with built-in GPS as well as receive location-specific alerts.

With the technological advancements of smartwatches, they are, however, unlikely to functionally replace smartphones as they are only complementing the latter, allowing users to free their hands during activities.

Wristwatches — more than just telling time by AZALEA AZUAR

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