The Watch; Culture and technology on your wrist.

The first true mechanical watches were incredibly expensive, technological marvels of their time. The mechanical pocket watch represented a engineering marvel, they required no pendulum like previous static timepieces, which enabled them to be moved and carried on a person.
The initial social implications of wearing or owning a pocket watch were huge. Of course one had to be very wealthy to even purchase one, but also the buyer would probably have had need for precise time on demand. The combination of wealth and a need for precise timing would have meant that the owners of watches would be important people, doing important business, almost certainly on a schedule.
It was this initial status of the first watch owners that endeared watches with the status symbol position they still hold today.
Despite the coming of quartz timed digital watches, able to tell time far more accurately and cheaply than any mechanical watch, people still buy expensive, Swiss hand made watches. Why? Status, Fashion, Expression of personality.
People purchase watches which are intentionally needlessly complex, based on mechanical designs. These being far more expensive, less accurate and more delicate than a simple Casio digital wristwatch. Current fashions in upmarket watches tend towards expressive complexity and the display of that complexity.

 

Even digital movement watches are beginning to partake in the trend towards complexity. The company Tokyo Flash is renowned in geek circles for its complex artistic patterns, often forgoing numeric displays and using binary encoding to represent time.


People do this, because they want to differentiate themselves from others, in order to stand out. Being that the origins of the status symbol position which watches hold in our culture was their technological complexity it is no wonder that the primary way to differentiate a watch is the technology of the piece itself. A watch is a representation of personality embodied in technology as much as it is a teller of time.