While there are nearly hundreds of watch blogs and a huge community of international watch lovers, the cultural significance of watches has slowly begun to decline in America. Here the youth culture is taught early on to rely on technology and instant gratification, specifically with the attachment to smart phones and computers. Yet, nearly 3000 miles away, in Europe, watches are recognized as a symbol of status and class.
In Europe, not only are watches appreciated but they are held to represent so much more than simply a time piece. In most cases, especially in the 21st century, owning a watch denounces wealth–the ability to own something even though in our society it is no longer a necessity with growing reliance on smart phones, computers and other technological devices.
Every spring, for 8 days, the Baselworld Fair is held in Basel, Switzerland where hundreds of watch and jewelry companies from all over the world (some historically recognized as some of the world’s most premiere watch makers) come out to evaluate the industry and more important, to get a feel for the market.
This past year, the most interesting trend was that of women of high culture who have over time developed an affinity for timepieces.
What I’ve observed in America is that aside from special occasions, watches are not standard accessories for the American (man or woman). And while there is a small market of watches being produced in or for the US, the big sales take place overseas in countries like Switzerland and Germany where being punctual and on time are apart of mass culture.
I’ve also noticed that aside from high culture, Americans don’t tend to see the need for a watch; the high class Americans wear them for that exact reason–I can, therefore I will. And with hip hop culture and reality TV taking Americans on a wild ride through loose morals and tacky dresses, the actual symbolism seems to be worth more than the function of the device. With diamonds dripping from top to bottom, who needs the time anyway?