Too Late

A few months ago, I found myself in Japan and in need of a haircut. Not knowing any Japanese, and not being confident that the average Japanese barber would be able to speak any English, I asked the friendly staff at my hotel (actually, they were the organising staff of the ISU 2012 Junior World Speed Skating Championships) to write me a note describing the kind of haircut I was after. Of course, being Japanese, they went the extra mile and found a place, and called ahead to ensure that my hair would be cut properly.

So, as I sat getting my hair cut, I was given a number of magazines to browse through. It was strangely comforting to know that the practice of giving magazines to people who were getting their haircut was also part of the culture in Japan, especially since my hairdresser spoke no English, and I spoke no Japanese. Of course, the magazines I browsed through were in Japanese, so I simply looked at the pictures.

One of the pictures that I spied was of a watch. This was no ordinary watch, the watch was designed to look like a regular watch-strap all the way around, including on the face. Furthermore, the watch would only tell you the time when you pressed a button.

How ingenious, I thought to myself. Most watches tell you the time all day, every day – even during those times when you aren’t wearing it, or aren’t looking at it. This is a tremendous waste of energy and resources, so why not design a watch that only told you the time when you wanted to know what the time was? I had discovered the watch of the future.

Finding one of these watches outside of Japan proved to be a small adventure in itself. Luckily, the ad in the magazine had a web address that I was able to copy down. Their website has a list of distributors, but such is the nature of globalization and global branding that it was very nearly impossible to tell where a shop was located simply from it’s name (do you KNOW how many Royal Copenhagen shops there are outside of Copenhagen?). I eventually found the european distributor for the brand and to save you the trouble, I have linked them here.

The brand sells many other things than watches, and I also bought myself a belt. The real reason I bought the belt was because the buckle is made of plastic, so now I have a belt that I don’t have to remove to pass through airport security.

In terms of design, I like the sleek no-frills nature of it. I also like the way that the face of the watch disguises itself as being part of the strap. The digits are placed in such a way as to appear as if the light is shining through gaps in the “weave” of the watch strap. Of course, the watch strap isn’t woven – it’s plastic, as is the face, but the illusion is good. Another happy side effect of the choice of material is that the watch is very light, and for that reason it has become my primary timepiece.

Pros: very light, clever design, comes with a story

Cons: clasp comes off quite easily – not a sports watch, accuracy issues – it’s about a minute fast every week

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