Stream Time: From Wristwatch to Smartwatch

According to a recent survey, one in seven people in the UK report they have no need for a watch. In response to this news that the wristwatch is fast on its way to becoming a relic, designers are revisioning watches for the connected and social age. New from HP for Fossil, the Facebook watch delivers status updates from your personal newsfeed at a glance. The connected device solves the “single function issue” of the traditional wristwatch, by aggregating information from various social streams and enabling SMS. Unfortunately this “metawatch” has already been panned by analysts calling it “so five years ago.”

Next up: the iWatch, inspired by Steve Jobs’ comment that the iPod sixth gen Nano would make a good watch — a crop of designs for fancy wristbands that effectively repurpose the gadget as wrist candy. Does this impress the analysts and critics? Nope. Chip Ckick’s Ali Heriyanto calls Nano watches “so yesterday.” At Gizmodo Kyle VanHemert observes, “OK, so there’s still the issue of having headphones plugged into your watch at all times.” And from Kevin Coldewey at Crunchgear, “they still haven’t fixed the fact that the watch won’t tell time for one whole day straight, or that it’s not water resistant, or that people will see it and laugh, laugh, laugh.” It might not be ready to brave the waves, but as ThinkGeek reports, some leather-and-steel Nanowatch straps are designed with beach-ready bottle openers.

But single or multi-functionality aside, the wristwatch has long served as a status symbol. When cnet asked readers about demographic and the wristwatch-as-relic trend, one commenter added:

“Watches give a certain impression, one of professionalism and success. If you have a watch, you need to keep and eye on the time, have the money for a nice timepiece and want others to know that your time is precious. In other words, ignorant gen-Y use mobiles as watches and successful business people use watches. It looks a lot better for me to angle my wrist and show some silver than fiddle in my pocket for a phone while trying not to drop my iPod and wallet.”

Indeed. Though of course, smartphones are status symbols too.

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About Sidneyeve Matrix

Professor, blogger, trendwatcher. I share research & news about digital culture & commerce on Google+, Pinterest, and Twitter.

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