Sweaty Spice, the other Spice Girl

A few months back, I opined here about buying an Apple Watch. At the time, I was mostly interested in it to increase the accuracy of the activity monitoring. Most (all?) of my exercise in the Pandemic era has been the daily 3ish mile walks with my dog, and I liked logging it. But carrying my iPhone in my shorts pocket fucked with the accuracy. It seemed to use the accelerometer to measure steps, and the jiggle of the workout shorts I wear meant  it was double counting most of the time. So, a 3 mile walk was logged as closer to 6 miles.

Not a great situation, unless I wanted to measure my activity with a broken yardstick.

A perfect solution would be an Apple watch. It will closely integrate with my phone, and provide other smartwatch features. The niggling doubt was that I wouldn't really wear it. Prior to my first iPhone (the original first generation) I wore a Seiko Divers watch, an automatic that was strapped to my wrist every day. But carrying the iPhone meant that the accurate time of day was always in my pocket, sync'd to the NIST Time servers, and accurate to thousandths of a second, and the Seiko, well it gained about 2 minutes per day, requiring daily tweaks.

In the last three months I have worn that Seiko daily, dealing with the inaccuracies, and, well, liking it. The pandemic, and my new normal of working from home virtually 100% of the time means that I am not always carrying my phone in my pocket, so it is no longer always at hand to pull out and glance at. Having a watch on my wrist means that I can flip my wrist and see the time.

So, I am going to buy a smart watch?

No. For a variety of reasons, but mainly, because as I get older, I enjoy simple purpose built things. Old video game systems are fun, and remind me of my younger days. I have a Nintendo 64 that I have written about, and while I could emulate it and play the games, there is something sublime about the experience on the original hardware.

But that is only part of the reason. The reason that I (mostly) read my ebooks on a Kindle device is so that I am not tempted to check email, or drop in for a quick hand of solitaire, or to read that NY Times notification when it is displayed. And I fear that the constant stream of notifications and alerts that will come across the smartwatch will be more distracting.

Another reason is the erosion of privacy. These computers on your wrist not just tell time, and track steps, but they are increasingly tracking biometric and health data (O2 saturation sensors, ECG and hear rate sensors, and sleep tracking shit.) I just don't want that data being streamed into huge databases where I might trust Apple, but who the fuck really knows.

And lastly, who the fuck wants to recharge their watch every day or every other day. What a hassle.

The simplicity of the Seiko is both appealing and soothing.

That said, the Seiko was an inexpensive watch when I bought it, and its daily time inaccuracy is truly annoying. I have always had a desire to own a high end watch, back when I thought Rolex was the bomb, but now I know that all mechanical watches are roughly the same degree of accuracy, that +/- 2 minutes a day are pretty standard. That leaves quartz movements, or digital.

And I am gravitating to a modest and understated Casio G-Shock in the ~$200 range. Not one of those giant abominations that some people love (ever want to see a group of geeks, search for G-Shock fan sites), but something that is simple, elegant, and foremost accurate to within a minute per year.

Far too many of them track exercise. I don't want that. Or have some USB data connectivity shit. Ditto.

Back in the early 1980's I bought a simple Casio digital watch, pre G-Shock era, and it lasted more than a decade without changing the battery. After 7 or so years, the battery had diminished enough that the back light no longer worked, and a year later the alarm stopped beeping, but it still kept time. Back then electrical engineers knew how to build low power devices that could milk a CR2016 battery in an accurate chronometer for over a decade.

Fuck yeah, that is some kick ass engineering.

So, sometime this weekend I will likely be ordering a Casio G-Shock GM5600B-1.

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