On pocket watches and the salvage of time

As part of my intermittent and yet ongoing programme of peronal obtuseness, I have begun to wear a pocket watch, and leave all of my twelve wristwatches at home. There are many fine pocket watches available to the contemporary consumer, including an androgynous and unisex Skagen watch with a leather 'chain', but I wanted none of this. The point of wearing a pocket watch in 2010 is not to politely transmute such an anachronistic object from its past incarnations into the present. No.

The point of wearing a pocket watch is to be capable of taking time in hand, literally, and then putting it away in your pocket. The first of four watches I have purchased as part of this programme is a Swiss watch with a quartz movement. After I had purchased it I realised that this was a mistake. For the experience to really resonate with my position on this topic the watches need to be mechanical mechanisms, and requiring hand winding.

As a result I have purchased three additional watches, which I intend to wear in rotation as the fancy takes me. The first is a French Charles Hubert watch not dissimilar to the one illustrated on this page. The second is a rather more expensive German watch, made by Kienzle, finished as a skeleton case. The third is something of a gem, it is an Elgin watch from 1915, which carries an engraving explaining that it was awarded as the first prize in the Los Angeles Amateur Boxing Championship of that same year. The engraving is very fine, possessing the quality of copperplate handwriting.

So with this small arsenal of timekeeping devices I intend to take charge of my time, safe in the knowledge that if I choose to stop winding the watches, then time will dilate and run down until it finally creeps to a halt. There is something inordinately comforting about this: I am implicated in the entrapment of modern timekeeping, and yet I can make the decision to let it all grind to a halt. Working as I do in deadline-focused environment, and facing the relentless pressure to constantly gain efficiency, there is a grain of comfort in this.

What do you think: futile gesture in the face of crushing obligation? Yes, it probably is.