When I was about ten years (1964) old I got my first watch for Christmas from my parents. It was a nice little gold toned Timex with a black band. I wore it for years, changing bands several times.
In 1976, when I graduated from college, my parents gave me another watch, an attractive Bulova with a flexible metal band. It was very functional – large enough to read easily and with a second hand – both of which were necessary in my new role as a medical technology intern. It, too, I wore for years.
At some point in my 30’s I bought a gold dress watch from an upscale jeweler. It looked more like a fine jewelry bracelet than a watch and the face was small and rectangle. I enjoyed wearing it, but as I got older, it was not very practical due to how difficult it became to read the small Roman numerals. For a while I alternated between it for dress occasions and my dependable and functional Bulova. Then I abandoned the little gold dress watch altogether and sold it when gold prices reached a point that I could recover a significant part of my investment in it.
In my 50’s I bought a two-tone metal-banded Citizen watch. It, too, was functional and easy to read, but the metal band required less maintenance than a leather band and it had a nice contemporary look.
Now, as I approach my sixtieth birthday, I’m conscious of my watch. Extra weight has caused the band, from which I once had links removed, tight enough that I find myself wishing I could find those extra links and return them to the band. But more than the awareness of it on my wrist, I am aware that most people I know no longer wear a watch. It seems that most people have come to rely on their cell phones for timekeeping. The always-accurate cell phone time is more reliable and for most people one’s phone is ever ready and easy to read with its lit digital display and it’s never any farther from one’s need than a watch that is actually attached to one’s wrist. I have even been asked a couple of times why I still wear a watch.
Those four watches have served my needs for fifty years. When my mother-in-law died in 1976, I discovered that she had a box full of watches. Most were likely purchased at greatly discounted sale prices, as she was quite a good shopper. She had beautiful watches with crystal bracelet bands or fashionable colored bands. Several of her watches were given to friends of hers who also wore stylish fashion coordinated watches. I kept a couple of them and wore one occasionally.
At our women’s ministry, Bethel Village, we receive dozens of watches in donations every year. Some very cheap and costumy. Others are quite nice, much like my Bulova and Citizen. For a couple of years I recruited discounted batteries from a jeweler and we gave watches to our students. I thought that it would help with our effort to help them restore order to their lives and give them a sense of grounding in the work-ordered life routine to which we are acclimating them.
I find it somewhat sad that so many watches have been abandoned to us. There are two large ziplock bags of watches on my desk. As Christmas approached, I struggled with whether or not it was worth the expense and time to rehabilitate these watches and give them to our students. Once they are out of our program they will all get their cell phones and most will never wear them. But for now, they can still serve the purpose for which they were intended, getting people to where they need to be when they need to be there.
My Citizen watch has lost its contemporary two-tone shine. It’s now worn and dated, somewhat like I myself feel these days. Increasingly, I recognize regularly that I am perceived as a woman of “a certain age”. I am becoming more “set in my ways”. I find social trends passing me by altogether. I am sometimes lost when conversations turn to new topics or when new lingo is employed.
Have I become as obsolete as my watches? I know women much older than I am who are still quite fashionable and “with it”. Maybe I really have become what my husband calls “frumpy”, stale and dated and without any concern to be anything more. I’ve never been much of a fashion hound, but I do seem more and more to lack concern for fashion, hairstyles, and other appearances. It annoys my Mother, who suggests almost daily that I need to put on makeup before I go out the door to work or church.
Have I become an outdated time piece? Or am I a well-worn, still functional, utilitarian accessory? What do I want to be as I enter my next decade of life? I have a few weeks to reflect on these thoughts. We’ll see.