The Swiss watch industry originated in Geneva where jewelry was forbidden by Calvinists but functional decorative objects were not.

Illusion of functionality:

Today, for male watch buyers at least, a watch is the one universally acceptable piece of jewelry, largely because it creates the illusion of functionality.

Illusion of Tradition:

And the history of watches as a functional tradition is a relatively short one, it lasted from 1915–1975, just over half a century.

Illusion of virility:

Until the mid 70s, a Rolex submariner was a functional object, the best time keeping device that a diver could wear. Wearing a diver’s watch on your wrist signified the virility of a pearl diver — or James Bond, who did wear a Rolex Submariner.

Watch obsolescence:

The digital watch displaced a mechanical one as a truly functional object, because a cheap watch was more accurate. But it didn’t make the concept of a watch as a time keeping device obsolete. Arguably it was the cell phone that did that and in particular the smart phone which had the time as its primary display when locked. The watch had become a pocket one again.

Today what you wear on your wrist, in terms of non obsolete technology, is a fitness band and message alerts device. with apple throwing its muscle behind this it is eroding the concept of a timepiece on your wrist, and in doing so it is highlighting the fact that timepieces on your wrist are purely decorative objects — jewelry.

A Rolex Submariner is not intended to look like pure jewelry and being perceived as such could erode its male desirability, derived from signaling status without looking like you are wearing jewelry.

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Architect: I used to design buildings, now I design companies. http://davidgalbraith.org

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