Last night I coerced Mike to run a few errands with me. We squeezed in the Micro Center exit doors quite literally as the store was being closed in order to purchase various removable media for our cameras. Thankfully, these items are stored right at the checkout counter, so we didn’t attract too much attention as we walked from the exit doors to the checkout lanes. With media purchased, we stopped next door at K-Mart (mostly because we didn’t want to drive all the way out to Meijer’s), ostensibly looking for a European outlet adapter I could purchase for my upcoming trip (details soon). We didn’t find any that were acceptable.

On the way out, I was reminded that I need a wristwatch. I had, earlier in the day, stopped at two other establishments looking at wristwatches and walked out of both of them filled with anger. All of the watches I saw for sale were either entirely too expensive, or filled with features I didn’t want. Mike laughed out loud most of the time I was perusing the watch selection at K-Mart, delighted at how picky I was.

I want a simple watch. I want a watch that tells me the time, and does little else. The only real features I demand in a watch are that it illuminate in some capacity so that I can read the time in the dark, and that it be waterproof. I’m planning to take SCUBA classes this fall, and the instructor has informed me that I will need a watch, so waterproof is an absolute necessity. I do not want a chronograph, or a stopwatch, or a calendar, or a thermometer. I want a simple watch. I also want to spend less than $25.

It’s surprisingly hard to find a watch that doesn’t have all the features I don’t want. Many watches were very close to acceptable to me, except that they displayed the current day. I don’t want this feature, because the analog watches aren’t smart enough to know how many days are in each month, which means that every month I’ll need to fiddle with my watch to set the correct date. I don’t want to fiddle with my watch. I want it to live quietly on my wrist until such time as I decide to glance at it to learn the time.

I prefer analog watches, mostly because they almost always have fewer buttons. The digital watches are filled with features I’ll likely never use, and so the buttons become a distraction. I know from past experience that I will inadvertently activate one of the buttons at some point, and then I’ll be stuck pressing buttons to cycle through the various modes until I get back to the simple time display. This is a frustration I wish to avoid.

I often scratch my head as I see various gadget websites fawning over the latest crazy product to come from Tokyoflash. These are watches that are almost impossible to read quickly, so I’m not sure what the draw is. To have to spend time to parse the information presented by your watch just to find the current time seems a poor way to spend one’s time.

I used to wear a cheap digital watch obtained from a Burger King Happy Meal. It was a Star Wars brand toy, with the face of Boba Fett on the strap. I loved that watch. It was small, it worked without fuss, and it did nothing but tell me the current time. If I still had that watch, I would probably be wearing it today. If only it were waterproof…

After much searching, Mike found a simple digital Casio wristwatch: a single line LCD that looked in many respects like my old Burger Kind watch. This watch would have been fine with me – it had only a single button, as I recall – save for the fact that it was not waterproof. I found lots of watches that were almost acceptable, but decided that ultimately I didn’t want to settle for something almost what I wanted: I wanted to spend the time to find a watch I actually liked. After walking back and forth along the watch counter for entirely too long, Mike finally spied in the back corner of the display case the watch for me: a plain analog Timex watch, with no date display, waterproof, and Indiglo. And it only cost $19.99. Perfect. I purchased it as fast as I could, and I expect it will be a perfectly satisfactory watch.

The watch is now unobtrusively strapped to my wrist, and if I’m quiet I can hear the reassuring tick tick tick of the second hand sweeping across the unadorned face of the watch.

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