By: Kathryn Williams
When you think of time, what is the first thing that comes to mind?
Probably a clock, and I imagine, a clock face: a watch, an alarm clock, Big Ben. I doubt you thought of the Apple Watch.
The first modern clock came to the world in 1511 thanks to Peter Henlein, a German inventor. It didn’t keep time correctly, and often lost a few hours during the course of a day, but it was the springboard for others to move forward in creating more accurate, smaller clocks.
One of the first known wristwatches was a gift to Queen Elizabeth from the Earl of Leicester in 1571. It was said to be ornate and “jeweled,” though the actual watch has been lost. From this point, women wore the arm watch, while men usually received a pocket watch.
Then came digital.
Digital watches are easy. Three or four numbers in a clean sans serif tell you exactly what time it is. You don’t have to think, and it’s kind of sad how things have changed.
The first digital wristwatch was made by Hamilton Watch Company and came out in 1972. For $2,100, someone could have the 18-karat gold timepiece that even featured LED light for the display.
The clock used to be an almost romantic thing before we digitized it. Between the two histories I told you about, which sounds more classic? A father would pass down a pocket watch to his son or a mother would give her daughter a watch for graduation. Both were a way of expressing appreciation for someone’s time here on this earth, and what they were planning on doing with the rest of it. Both were analog.
There is something about the classic analog clock that speaks to what time really is. In a way, it is time personified: a face with two hands that keeps tickets away the seconds quietly.
It is reminiscent of an older, more classic period where a person would listen to their grandfather clock strike and know it was time for brunch, or to go to work, or to pick up the kids. We were less fast paced. It wasn’t a big deal to take a second to look down and follow the hands to the correct number.
There is a reason why when you look down at your arm, your watch still has these very classic hands and twelve numbers in a circle. We like the nostalgia of the analog clock. We want to be a little more Hepburn and Grant than McFly.