a peek inside the fishbowl

10 Jan, 2018

Why I started wearing a watch again

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Misc. life

I started wearing a watch again.

My watch was an accessory I set aside long ago and never thought much about until I dropped my iPhone, shattered the screen, and left it at a shop for repairs. The fellow behind the counter gave me the option to come back for it later or pick it up the next day. I opted for the latter. He looked surprised. Perhaps most people decide they need it back, fast.

Part of me felt bereft without a working mobile phone but after I dropped it off I felt amazingly… liberated. It was as if a heavy cuff that had been strangling my brain had suddenly been smashed. I was free.

The first thing I did when I came back home was dig my watch out from underneath a pile of things in my closet. My latest watch, I should say. Like many of you, I’m sure, I’ve gone through phases of fashion watches and eventually discarded each one. My latest watch is a pretty little Kate Spade thing but the battery was dead, so I hustled over to the watch department at the Bay at Bayshore. (Note! They are very good if you’re ever looking for a watch repair place in Ottawa! Edited to add: it’s called The Time Shop.) When I finally put my working watch back on my wrist I remembered two things: (a) how much I actually enjoy wearing a watch because I like knowing what time it is, at all times (b) how often I turn my phone on to check the time, only to get sucked into a rabbit hole lined with Facebook/Instagram/Twitter notifications. Sigh.

Many people don’t think much about how hard those social media platforms, as well as other games and phone apps, work to keep us checking in, coming back and spending time in each respective app. They’re designed to be addictive. Apparently, smartphones “hook people using the same neural pathways as gambling and drugs.” (You can read more about that right here.)

My ordinary watch is a device with a simple, single, purpose: To tell the time. It doesn’t do anything else and I am ok with that.

The latest thing, of course, is the smartwatch. For a while, I was coveting Apple watches and their adorable little touch screens. There’s so much you can do: Check the weather, look at photos, send and receive messages, track your fitness, pay for things with a digital wallet, set alarms and make calendar entries, and of course, check the time. Awhile back I wrote about a Kate Spade hybrid smartwatch Mark bought me for my birthday. It’s not quite the same as an Apple watch, but it links to an app and provides some basic features like a step tracker. It will also buzz if you get a notification. I was torn. I loved it, in fact, I had tweeted that I loved it to the whole world (which is how it ended up as a birthday gift), but when it was actually in front of me I had some serious doubts about owning a smartwatch. Will it now own me?

My internal dialogue with myself went something like this:

Andrea, what do I gain by owning a smartwatch?
Hmm. Instant notification of incoming messages and stuff? That’s cool.
Really? Do I really need to be “on” and “reachable” at all times?
Some people would say yes. That’s a good thing!
To be instantly reachable at all hours also means people will expect an instant response. Am I prepared to do this? Do I want to do this? 
I’ve also said that I’ve been feeling frazzled a lot of the time. Will this hinder, or help in that department?
Er, I don’t think it will help. Pouring Mexican jumping beans into a bowl of rice does not still the grains.
Is that an ancient proverb or something?
No. I just made that up. I will say this, however. If your goal is to be zen, a smartwatch isn’t the thing for you because it does not still your grains, er, brains.

I should mention that I felt like a heel for returning my birthday gift. Also, strangely, I felt like a kid who’s had a toy taken away from her as well as the mom who is taking it away. Does that make any sense?

I always wanted a smartwatch but I don’t think it’s good for me to have one. I don’t want to feel like a slave to any thing or iDevice. I don’t want to feel the pressure of being at everyone’s beck and call. I don’t like my growing sense of attention deficit and inability to focus. My challenge is, of course, that I use these devices for work and they’re a central part of what I do. Where’s the happy medium?

In the meantime, I will continue to wear my watch in order to cut down on the distractions. So far, so good.

5 Responses to "Why I started wearing a watch again"

1 | Splake

January 10th, 2018 at 3:56 pm


How much is battery replacement at the Bay? It’s only 10$ at excellent Westboro clock shop.

2 | andrea tomkins

January 10th, 2018 at 4:14 pm


Hmmm. I wish I could remember! I’m guessing $12? Next battery I need I will check out the little shop in Westboro. Fooshin? Right?

3 | Splake

January 10th, 2018 at 10:00 pm


Yup. Fooshin. Nice guy.

4 | andrea tomkins

January 10th, 2018 at 4:15 pm


I SHOULD mention the name of the place that repaired my iPhone screen because they were excellent: Wireless ER in Westboro (right above the Starbucks). I would definitely go there again (although I hope I don’t need to)! http://wirelessemergencyrepair.com

5 | jen_nifer

January 11th, 2018 at 8:50 am


I thought I saw the recommendation to read “Bored and Brilliant: How Spacing Out Can Unlock Your Most Productive and Creative Self” from you, but I could be mistaken.

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark. We have two daughters: Emma (19) and Sarah (17). I am the managing editor of our community newspaper, the Kitchissippi Times. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger, and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999... which makes me either a total dinosaur or a veteran, I'm not sure which! The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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