At a recent family gathering, I was seated among some younger members. I happened to glance at my watch and one nephew said, "Do you still wear a wristwatch? I thought nobody used those anymore."
I said, "Yes, I still use a wristwatch and, in fact, I wouldn't be without it. How else would you tell the time?"
With self-assured certainty, he whipped out his good-size phone from a pants cargo pocket, made a few clicks and proudly announced the time.
Then I asked if anyone in the young group around me used a watch. No takers. Heads shook no. They all use their phones.
"Time shown on your phone is correct," one said. "There's no battery replacement or wristwatch upkeep. You just check your phone and you always know the absolute correct time."
So I challenged them to a time-telling duel. Who could tell the time the fastest? Phones in pockets. No cheating. On three, let's see who can tell the time fastest — me with my wristwatch or you all on your cellphones. Another relative sitting nearby offered to be the timekeeper. Everyone was ready. Their hands were spread out at their sides, ready to grab their phones, almost Western style as though wearing a gun and holster. "Three — two — one!"
Everybody reached for their phone, made a few clicks and called out the time. The judge then decided there were two levels of winners. The phone checkers took about the same amount of time to each open their phones, so they tied and all came in second place.
"Second place? Not fair. Who won?" they chorused. The judge gestured to me. You see, all I had to do was glance at my wrist. No digging for my phone. No clicking it open once I did find it. I just glanced at my wrist and immediately I knew the time. How long does that take? Less than one second versus about 2.5 seconds for the phone.
And I don't regret one bit getting my favorite wristwatch repaired recently. It has an actual rotating sun and moon dial so you always know the time in relation to the larger 24-hour period. My parents gave me this watch about 30 years ago and it has worked great ever since. Well, ever since this year. I was afraid it had conked out.
I shopped around, including online, and found nothing exactly like what I have. So I took the watch into my favorite jewelers. They loved the watch, too, and said a new mechanism would solve the problem and create a whole new watch to last another 30 years or more. That was actually less expensive than purchasing a new watch, which was a good alternative, since I couldn't find one I liked anyway. So this useful and favorite wristwatch is truly a timeless treasure to me.
[Nancy Linenkugel is a Sylvania Franciscan sister and chair of the department of Health Services Administration at Xavier University, Cincinnati.]