I wear a set of silver bracelets on my left wrist. The first was given to me when I was thirteen. Then my mother went through a silver work phase that produced several more. When I was in high school, I worked at a bookstore next to a jewelry store. I became friendly with the husband and wife jewelers and spent my breaks there. That relationship begat a small silver pig ─ and several more bangles. I was sixteen and wearing ten bracelets when I stopped adding to the collection that I still wear every day.
But this piece is not about silver bracelets. It’s about watches, which for years I didn’t wear because my left wrist was otherwise occupied. I used a cheap pocket watch for a time, but after cracking the crystal on my second or third one, I decided to carry a wristwatch in my purse instead. That solution, however, was inconvenient and as a result I became one of those annoying people who asked everyone else what time it was.
In a moment of pure inspiration, my sister gave me a plain silver bangle, whose simple lines are interrupted, oh-so-briefly, by a small watch face. On my wrist it blends in and looks like one of my bracelets. I wear it, too, every day.
Periodically, the watch stops and I take it to Swanson Jewelers. While I wait, they pry off the back and replace the battery. This simple, inexpensive service has made me a loyal customer; I want their business to stay strong. I know watch sales are suffering because young people today use their cell phones to tell the time. I don’t remember where I first heard that, but I found an MSNBC article that says as much. And if that doesn’t do it for you, ask a stray teen what time it is and see what happens.
Recently, I came across a watch that had belonged to my husband’s grandmother. It’s a pretty little thing with a small face, and a thin, gold, flexible band. I thought it might be fun to wear as an accessory on my non-silvered wrist. I set the time, slipped it on and waited for the second hand to start moving. It didn’t. I took it off and made a note to take it to Swanson Jewelers to get the battery replaced.
A few days later, as I left the house with the watch, I had an epiphany: older watches don’t have batteries. I twisted the little button on the side, the same button I set the time with, back and forth, back and forth, in a motion driven by my sensory memory, and the second hand started its rounds.
I was going to rant about cell phones replacing watches and how technology undermines everything we hold dear. Now, I’m too embarrassed. Even I can’t argue that watch batteries are new technology. Instead I will point out that I own a variety of timepieces, and that there is a place, and yes, a time, for all of them.