Can you digit?

What the hell happened to digital watches? In my carefree boyhood (ah, more years ago now than I care to etc) digital watches were the dog’s knees, to kids and adults alike. They seemed to represent a tremendous leap forward in the world of personal time-telling. Some of them had a light, for God’s sake. A light! In a watch! We used to show them off to each other at school, prefacing the performance with ‘Say it’s the middle of the night, right, and you’re on a mission …’ But this technological tour de force was as nothing compared to the innovations that followed. I’ll never forget the first time I saw a watch with a calculator in it. Or more correctly, on it. I shook my head in silent awe, hearing the music from 2001 and wondering what could possibly be next. Even leaving aside these exciting add-ons, the simple phenomenon of timing things was magical. All right, you could time things with an analogue watch – ‘the crappy hands type’, as we called them – but it was no fun. A digital stop-watch made it compelling entertainment. We timed everything back then. These kids today never time a damn thing. But the real strength of the digital watch was the whiff of adventure that surrounded it. Those disjointed numbers spoke of villain’s time bombs and space ship control panels and The Future … Where did it all go wrong? If you’re going to wear a digital watch today, you might as well go the whole hog and start travelling about by space hopper. The Q-Branch marvel of my youth is a naff relic, worn only by toddlers, sport fanatics and the deeply ironic. Digital watches have run afoul of time itself. Wow, man. I’m, like, blowing my own mind here.

2 replies on “Can you digit?”

I’ve had digital watches in my time, but they all eventually fade/ get accidentally cracked/ have the poison liquid sucked out of them on a dare. I haven’t had a watch since I was about 15, and the hands fell off. Now I just use portable sun dials.

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