I Bought a Dumb Watch to Rescue Me From My Phone

I'm 34 years old, and I'm wearing a watch every day for the first time in my life. No, I haven't discovered the joys of midlife accessorizing. I've just finally found something that saves me from my phone.

There's a pitch for smartwatches you may have heard. It goes something like this: Spend less time on your phone, and more time on your life. Apple, in particular, has built its Watch push on the foundational belief that you want to spend less time staring at your iPhone.

Apple is right! I get the same satisfaction fiddling with my phone that my dog does chewing on professional-grade rawhide. It's a fun distraction from every day life, but borderline obsessive and ultimately unsatisfying. I also spend entirely too much time doing it, something that's always been true but never particularly bothered me until I had kids, two of them, and repeatedly found myself deep down an Instagram rabbit hole instead of being a dad. This is not a realization I would recommend to anyone.

The phrasing's melodramatic, but I sometimes feel like a modern-day Prufrock; instead of coffee spoons, I've measured out my life with pulls-to-refresh.

I get the appeal, then, of a smartwatch, which proposes relief through “glanceable moments” in the form of notification buzzes and information snippets, appetizer portions of a smartphone's unlimited buffet. I have no doubt that this works for many people, especially those whose emails and Twitter mentions regularly require immediate attention (what must that be like!). Not to mention you can use them for fitness tracking, and they're probably something to talk about at parties.

I sometimes feel like a modern-day Prufrock; instead of coffee spoons, I've measured out my life with pulls-to-refresh.

I seriously considered a smartwatch to help me disengage with my smartphone. Yes, I thought, just glance and be done with it. What I couldn't shake, though, was the feeling that I'd just be trading one screen for another, squintier screen. An extension of my phone just reminds me of all the things on my phone that I'm potentially missing, the way A life sentence life preserver reminds you that you'd quite cost inwards the voyage put it's committed to. There's also, of course, the common (and not unfounded) smartwatch slags: they're expensive, you make love to impregnate them all night, they're stock-still mostly unrefined, first-generation products, they're expensive, they're expensive, they're expensive.

Then, recently, A size revelation. What I act my smartphone for to a greater extent than thing isn't Twitter, operating room email, operating room games, operating room (ha! ha!) calls. to a greater extent than whatever of those combined, I act my smartphone to separate the time. It's reflexive, Laotian monetary unit this point; remove call from pocket, unlock, crack clock. This was, inwards fact, however the bulge of my call interactions began. And piece I was there, mightiness equally comfortably cf. what's occurrence along Facebook.

My question was that my just about glanceable moments—just spot-checking hour and minutes—were ne'er barely glances. They were funhouse doors batty expose barely widely plenty to turn tail my present-tense life. A size ol' mute watch, I figured, would cost aside counterpoint A consolatory absolutely end. The to a greater extent I could balk that foremost momentum to remove away my phone, the to a lesser extent much I'd destroy upwards inwards its vortex.

I opted for A field watch from L.L. Bean, because I liked however it looks and it seemed in keeping with “rapidly aging suburban dad.” It has authentic Swiss movement, which means next to nothing to me but sounds important, and it's “rugged,” in the event I someday decide to become an active person. I can change out the band, depending on how feisty I'm feeling. I never have to charge it. The hands glow in the dark. I dig it.

I can also report that so far, a month or so in, it works, at least in the sense that I check my phone less than I used to. I feel more present. I still usually pull my Moto X out of my pocket when it vibrates—oh ho, another New York Times alert!—but I've managed to dramatically cut down on unforced errors, those unprompted expeditions that'll get you stuck in deep social media drifts.

All of which is probably painfully, embarrassingly obvious if you already wear a watch. I'm sorry for that! But an informal survey of everyone I've come across in everyday life over the last 10 years or so says that all but of US don't anymore. That unchanged cypher says all but of US go use up to a greater extent set staringly Laotian monetary unit screens than we'd like.

It's letter size point, simply it's unit that's successful letter touchable remainder inwards my life: The well right smart to loose yourself from unit shield isn't just to constitute another. Sometimes letter silent find out is the smartest improve you give the axe make.