The Future of Wristwatches

Today, wristwatches is a healthy multi-billion dollar industry, with the Swiss still dominating the luxury market and the Japanese owning the $1000 and below price bracket. In recent years, reports have shown a steady growth in watch sales and revenue. Yup, people still buy heap loads of them alright.

But what for?

Collectors appreciate the technology, craftsmanship and design that goes into watches, and this bunch often put their kids’ college or retirement funds at risk, to sustain their collecting addiction.

Others use them as jewelry and/or as status symbols. After all, aside from the German car in your garage, what else could better say you’ve arrived than a piece on your wrist that costs moreĀ than your buddy’s Toyota?

Pre-owned luxury watches for sale in Osaka, Japan.

Wait, so they’re not used to tell the time anymore? Hardly. You have your tablet, phone and office wall clock for that. From a practical perspective, watches today have become useless in everyday life. Sure those who wear them still use them for quick time checks, but as a human, we won’t “die” without a watch, as much as we would not survive without a mobile phone.

I can’t help but wonder what the future holds for timepieces. Will humans 25, 50, 100 years from now evolve and shed the desire to wear an instrument on their wrist that is the most antiquated and inaccurate* way to tell the time? My best hunch is that we will still wear watches several decades down the road. The desire will remain, but for emotional than utilitarian reasons. Watches will be worn as a statement of style and status. Or as an appreciation of things artisanal. Or as an heirloom and remembrance of a loved one. Therefore, it will be the mechanical, well crafted ones that will survive, as opposed to the electronic, disposable types that may face extinction.

*A luxury chronometer mechanical watch deviates a few seconds per day. A mobile phone that syncs its clock to the network is theoretically as accurate as an atomic clock.