Analogue Watch – 3 Ways to Defend It!


Cara Delevigne TAG Heuer ad defends analogue watch

One in six Americans owns a smartwatch, and growing. We may not be at the point where people ask why you’re sporting an analogue watch instead of a “wearable,” but we’re getting there (even Cara’s friend TAG makes a smartwatch). There are now two generations that can’t read an analogue watch. In the interests of defending traditional/analogue watch wearers, here are three ways to justify your love . . .

1. Smart Watches Aren’t Safe!

Smart watch vs. tradition watch driving

According to research published in Accident Analysis & Prevention, smart watches are more distracting than mobile phones while driving. 

We can diss the study’s protocol – a driving simulator experiment does not a real world result make, and [both] careful readers will discover that the smart watch distracted driving danger centers on sending texts. But remember: plenty of political positions are based on emotion rather than an objective examination of the facts (cough gun control cough). Here’s the money shot:

Traditional watch vs. smart watch car

Many similarities can be observed between results from this experiment and previous studies on the same topic. In Giang et al.’s (2014) first experiment, participants took longer to read notifications with the smartwatch than with the smartphone, although they started looking at the watch faster.

Giang et al’s (2015) follow-up experiment found that people glanced more at the smartwatch than at the phone and that their brake response time was longer when a lead vehicle was slowing down in front of them in a watch condition than in a phone condition. The findings in both studies are similar to those in our experiment : The smartwatch is more distracting to the driving task than the smartphone.

2. An Analogue Watch is Environmentally Friendly!

Rolex palm tree analogue watch

Common sense tells us that a watch made of mostly steel bits that lasts pretty much forever is better for the environment than an all-plastic watch that uses a battery with the practical lifespan of a panther chameleon.

As you’d imagine, or at least hope, green warriors have examined the smart watch’s environmental impact. spills the tea:

Traditional watch vs,. smart watch recycling

Smartwatches use the same processors, sensors and display technology as smartphones. So, buying, using and ultimately discarding them will have the same set of problems.

The guts of smartwatches are made from dozens of ingredients that are rare, difficult and costly to extract. This puts workers – of whom kids are the main victims – in harm’s way. Extraction of these rare earth metals are polluting and resource depleting . . .

Perhaps worse, smartwatches are increasingly disconnected from safe end-of-life scenarios and the efforts at a circular economy . . . Although e-recycling is on the rise in the U.S., 90% of the world’s e-waste is illegally traded or dumped each year . . . experts worry they are contributing to a troubling trend in e-recycling.

Those of us who wear battery-powered traditional watches are on less firm ground here, but at least you pull out the battery when it’s dead and drop it off at an appropriate recycling center (Home Depot is your huckleberry). Right?

3. An Analogue Watch Is Better For Your Mental Health!

analogue watch vs. digital smartwatch

This is the rationale traditional watch manufacturers and their most strident customers use time and again to defend the analogue horological habit. As I pointed out in Traditional Watch vs. A Smart Watch,  the “I wear a dumb watch to disconnect from the e-world” defense depends on not using your smartphone.

What are the odds? Still, there’s no getting around it (thankfully): a smart watch places FAR more demands on your time and mental energy than a traditional watch. The temptation to stay connected to the ‘net 24/7 risks triggering IAD. explains:


Internet addiction disorder (IAD), also known as problematic internet use or pathological internet use, is generally defined as problematic, compulsive use of the internet, that results in significant impairment in an individual’s function in various life domains over a prolonged period of time.

Young people are at particular risk of developing internet addiction disorder, with case studies highlighting students whose academic performance plummets as they spend more and more time online. Some also suffer health consequences from loss of sleep, as they stay up later and later to chat online, check for social network status updates or to reach the next game levels.

Calm app

Not to mention adolescent mental illness and suicide related to cyberbullying. While there is such a thing as traditional watch addiction (get help here), smart watches are a clear and present danger to anyone who has trouble relaxing. Unless you use the Apple Watch Calm app.

Ahem. The point remains: a traditional watch is a smart choice for anyone who values safety (both walking and driving), protecting the environment and avoiding information sickness. That’s my story and I’m sticking with it. You?


  1. A dumb or clever watch, specifically the analog variety, is a simple device designed to do ONE thing… tell me the time… at a glance. And, I love that.

    I no more want a “smart” watch than I want a “smart” gun. Similarly, I wouldn’t want a “smart” parachute or a “smart” fire extinguisher.

    Though, I’ve been called a “smart-ass” throughout my life.

    • My Garmin smart watch (and I’d lump Fitbit into this category) is my “Dad” watch. I associate some (not all) smart watches with older, not younger wearers.

  2. This reminds me of when I bought my first new car and all day I had people asking me why I chose a manual transmission. Even European immigrants thought this an odd choice, whereas I couldn’t understand how this was even a question. My first answer was a dumbfounded “because I can drive stick?” and that would be my go-to here too. I can read a clock face, you dummies. And I’m old school.

    The backlight of a smart watch seems like it would be annoying while driving at night. I think this was a minor issue in my brief time with one, but presumably one gets used to it quickly.

    • I have never owned an automatic car. Sad that my next one will be a soulless appliance. Screens are bland and I hate the tick of a quartz watch.

      • I grew up in a manual family such that there is a joke that how we don’t know how to drive automatics. It’s only half a joke, as there are tales of panic from when a ‘bumper car’ left in Drive would not start or even crank. The pity I have for people with no exposure to three-pedaled cars is probably the same as mechanical fans have for me growing up quartz.

        • But, can you heel-toe rev-match downshift? 🙂

          I can (learned at Skip Barber Racing School), and miss doing it with my Subaru STi and my Lotus Elise (both gone).

          Stick shifts are becoming more and more scarce. Very few new cars offering it these days.

          • I’ve tried but the man with small wrists also has small feet. I’ve considered racing pedals, but on the street it’s just as well to do a blip before clutch reengagement. I’m too stingy with fuel anyway, I coast into curves instead of doing racy hard braking.

            Definitely a parallel with watches and cars where the old, engaging, technology gets relegated to enthusiasts willing to pay more. At least motorcyclists overwhelmingly DGAF about automatic transmissions. There is a reason they haven’t been called standard transmissions in a long, long time. They are barely even optional in most cases.

          • I drove a stick shift (another archaic term these days) from 1988 – 1998. Then again from 2001 – 2015. I miss it.

            Heel-toe is not necessary on the streets, of course. It’s a vital skill on the track. But, I enjoyed practicing it on the street. It became second nature to me. I was at the point that I couldn’t downshift without doing it.

  3. I can instantly get a feel of the time of day looking at a analogue watch similar to, but more accurately than, observing at the sun’s position on a sunny day. With a digital display my brain needs to wake up to translate the numbers displayed into time. And a smart watch displays too much information for my brain to instantly decipher the time, and much of the information displayed is unneeded right at the time I need to know the time.

    • This is my problem with digital time too. It is specific but lacks a holistic context. It’s like getting a street address or GPS coordinates as opposed to seeing a location on a map.

      • Yeah–processing a digital watch display requires going through the verbal part of your brain. A large of “flow” is the feeling you get when you just intuitively know or do something–analog watch displays give you ambient awareness, and when everything clicks you just “know” what time it is.

        • Which is why I’ve always preferred analog gauges, speedometer, and tachometer in a car.

          In my track days, I oriented all of my gauges so that when the parameters were ideal (oil temp, oil pressure, engine coolant temp, etc) the indicators were all pointing up (at 12:00). This way, I could tell at a glance, even in my peripheral vision, that “everything is OK.” If one of those critical parameters was “off,” it was immediately evident.

          Can’t do that with digital gauges, which must be READ and INTERPRETED. What’s my oil pressure (and what is the normal pressure)? What is my engine temp, compared to what is normal? Each parameter has different normals. And, I’d have to not only read but THINK about it to evaluate the situation. With analog gauges oriented properly, “normal” is all gauge needles pointing straight up (or close to it).

          Reading gauges requires taking your eyes off the road / track ahead. At triple-digit speeds… say just 135 mph… you cover almost 200 feet in 1 second. If it took you only 2 seconds to READ your DIGITAL gauges, you have covered 133 yards (a football field and then some). Not good! Analog rules! 🙂

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