Why Are Watches Cool?
Why Are Watches So Cool ?
The first watch created was in 1868, which means that watches have been around for over 150 years. In today's world, checking time is mainly done on a smartphone or another digital device, so it begs the question – why are watches cooler than ever?
I've been deeply into watches, to the point of knowing reference numbers, for just about three years now. The incredible blog site Hodinkee is the internet timekeeper king, a one-stop-shop for anything you want to know about watches. Their video/article with John Mayer is what initially sparked my interest in watches. I'm not going to explain any details about the history of watchmaking or the brands involved in it here, for that go to Hodinkee.
I'm going to speculate why watches are so freaking dope by connecting them to pop culture. The main reason why things become 'cool' is that people who are considered 'icons' make things cool. The aforementioned John Mayer, the Paul Newmans, the Eric Claptons, their interest in watches has shaped the time pieces into cultural symbols of cool. Watches themselves, with their shiny faces and mechanical insides, are intrinsically interesting without celebrity endorsement – but the reason that they have become so popular and pricey is because of these icons.
Rolex makes multiple watches that are now known by nicknames created by the word of mouth of watch geeks around the world. For example, the Rolex Day-Date is referred to as the Presidential Rolex, even though Rolex has never used this name. This is clearly due to numerous US presidents wearing that model. Another example is the Rolex Daytona Ref. 6263 & 6241 (and a couple of others), which are known as the Paul Newman Daytona. His model was famously sold at auction for over 17 million dollars.
17 million dollars.
That record has since been broken. Because people think watches are freaking cool – increasingly freaking cool. Because they are.
For a long time, the culture surrounding watches was labeled as elitist and well dumb, and when viewed from a utilitarian perspective I guess it is. The stern, rational cries ask why anyone would spend thousands of dollars on something that tells time worse than a phone. But those stern, rational people will never understand the magic that is a pretty little wrist companion, handmade on a microscopic level, free from the strings of batteries and electrodes – working.
But for the people who do get it, the feeling of getting your first truly well-made watch is special.
John Mayer is the icon who made watches seem so cool to me. He has one of the best collections on the planet, and artfully articulates why they are so exciting to him, which in turn has excited me and, well, tons of other people. Early on in Mayer’s watch collecting journey, he was lucky to be guided by another all-time great guitar player who also happens to have a bonkers collection in Eric Clapton. These names I keep dropping, these 'icons', are what elevate watch culture to greater heights in the public consciousness – the vocals added on top of the drum beat that is a ticking chronometer.
I'm going to stop this blog here, because I plan on writing a lot more about watches in order to come to a full understanding of why watches are so cool. By the time I think I've come up with all the reasons, I'll probably just realize that it's just because cool is cool...but I'm going to explore it anyway.