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An Interview With A Regular Watch

Not necessarily the watch being interviewed, as it chose to remain anonymous.
Not necessarily the watch being interviewed, as it chose to remain anonymous.

Ever since we interviewed the Monopoly iron in 2013, we have occasionally published fever-dream interviews with newsworthy inanimate objects. In light of yesterday's Apple announcement of its smart watch — and in light of the fact that it is neither the first nor the last such watch to be developed — we thought we would check in with a regular, ordinary watch. (Note: As Laura Sydell said at the beginning of her conversation with All Things Considered yesterday, NPR is one of many organizations that are partnering with Apple to develop an app for the watch.)

Thank you for sitting down with us.

It's no problem — I had the time.


Do you get it? I had the time.

No, I get it.

Not everybody gets my sense of humor. Sometimes I put my hands straight out to the sides and I go, "It's 9:15 and I'm an airplaaaaaane!" and nobody laughs at all.

I got it. So did you get a chance to listen to the Apple announcement yesterday?

Oh, I listened to it all right. Which is funny, because you'd think I would have I watched it.

I get it.

Good, good. Anyway, yeah, smart watches. Crazy.

How did it make you feel?

I guess ... the world is changing. I come from a different time. I come from a time when a watch could be a watch. I mean, we're good at it. I've got a big hand, I've got a little hand, I've got a second hand. Suddenly I'm supposed to know every time you go up a flight of stairs or every time some goofball you're meeting for lunch is all "running late srry"? I mean, it's fine. It's just not what I'm trained for.

People seem to want a lot out of their devices these days.

I'm functional, which I guess is the worst thing you can be now. I do a thing. I tell you what time it is. Apparently this makes me the devil. I feel like in ten years, I'm only going to exist ironically. I feel like a cassette Walkman. I'm actually glad those guys aren't around for this. You think watchesare getting squeezed, you should see cassette tape players. Did you know kids don't have those anymore?

I did know that. So how long have you been a watch?

I was made in 2006, but I get new batteries on the regular, so I run like clockwork. [pauses] I run like --

I get it.

Yeah. I was a birthday present to this lady, Beverly, from her husband, Dave. I got worn a lot at first. I got worn to her office, she was an accountant, and I would get worn to parties. Sometimes not weddings, but I got around a lot.

Do you still get out every day?

Well, Bev started this gluten-free baking thing, and her hands get this reeeeeally gluey stuff on them all the time, and she kind of started skipping it. Then Dave bought her a diamond bracelet, which, I mean, really, Dave? Way to make me feel like a chump. Then Bev got ... technology.

What do you mean she got technology?

You know what I mean.

You mean she got a phone?

That's right. And then her kids went to college and they started texting her, so she has her phone out all the time asking them if they need money, which they always say yes to, because they are ingrates who haven't ever even owned a watch. Good luck getting Bev's kids to strap anything t all to their wrists, by the way. Probably interfere with their tattoos.

They have tattoos on their wrists?

It's a metaphor.

Do you think there are still advantages to a regular watch?

I guess that depends on whether you want your watch to tell Bob Gates when you're in the john.

That's a different company and I don't think it does that. And that's not his name.

Look, I know where the world is going. I only do one thing. I'm not a watch and an electronic football game and I don't tell the weather and I'm not like "Oh, make a left up here to get to your friend's house 18 seconds faster." I expect you to know where you're going. I expect you to carry on a conversation over lunch without drawing a kittycat and sending it to somebody. I mean, honestly. You're an adult. What are you drawing on your watch?

You sound glum.

It's just ... I like my smartphone as much as anyone --

You ... you have a smartphone?

Of course. How do you think I take selfies?

You take selfies?

Hey, I'm not a Luddite. I'm very hip. In ten years, I'm going to make it to a bike shop in Brooklyn where I'm going to go for a hundred bucks next to the mustache wax. I just don't think it's necessary, all of this. And it's just going to lead to a lot of ... bad things.

What kind of bad things?

Mostly the first person who makes a "new watch who dis?" joke. Uch.

What do you think is the future of watches?

In 25 years — no, wait, in 10 years — you'll be interviewing a smart watch about how it feels to be replaced by an image projected on the back of somebody's retina or some [thing] like that. The wheel goes round and round. Time goes on and on. And you know who knows that better than anybody?

...A watch?

A watch. That's right.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Linda Holmes is a pop culture correspondent for NPR and the host of Pop Culture Happy Hour. She began her professional life as an attorney. In time, however, her affection for writing, popular culture, and the online universe eclipsed her legal ambitions. She shoved her law degree in the back of the closet, gave its living room space to DVD sets of The Wire, and never looked back.