I really enjoyed this story by Laura Sydell, NPR (the written story, not the audio report). It's a touching story of her mother's passing and the watch she inherited:
Suddenly, I heard cameras clicking and I looked up to see Cook and the model Christy Turlington Burns standing beside me. I introduced myself.
After a few pleasantries, Cook asked, "Do you think the watch is feminine?"
I hesitated for a second. "No," I said. Turlington Burns looked skeptically at me as if she disagreed.
I reached for my pocket. "This was my mother's watch," I said, pulling it out to explain how its smaller, more delicate shape made it feel more feminine to me.
But as I looked up at Cook, his brow wrinkled empathetically. He clearly understood that the watch I'd been wearing was an heirloom with value beyond its ability to keep time. In fact, my Cartier doesn't keep very good time. It is jewelry infused with memory.
Laura goes on to explore the Swiss watch industry and ponder heirlooms and pragmatism. In the end, Laura wonders:
But I also know that the real estate of my wrist is limited. I can't imagine wearing a smart watch on one arm and the Cartier on the other. In the end, it was pragmatism that ended the era of the pocket watch. And though I'm reluctant to give up on my mother's Cartier, I do wonder if eventually pragmatism will win over art and memory.
It's an interesting and lovely story.
Then, this from the comments section caught my eye:
So for me being an active parent, a smart watch gives me an edge. I haven't seen the Apple Watch in person, but if it's slick and functional, I will be in the market for it and discard my interest in the Movado I've been eyeing recently.
With that being said, I still feel that I'm an old soul at heart and enjoy nostalgia. With technological advances it does leave me wondering what's going to be worth holding on to that can be passed on generations?
I think this comment nicely captures the state of watches going forward. It's going to be hard to pass up the utility of a smartwatch. That said, I think the commenter misses the mark on technology and heirlooms.
Humans don't change that much. We will always have a desire to hold on to objects that remind us of loved ones. But those objects can take on so many forms - a ring, a pen, a book, or even a pet (which can be particularly meaningful, yet ultimately heartbreaking). Heck, my day one original iPhone could be one of the more coveted objects by my heirs (note to heirs: back off for now). Here's a family heirloom I cherish, thankfully not as the result of a death.
Here's the thing. Yes, with the advent of the smartwatch, the decision of what to wear will increasingly involve pragmatism. That said, I think Apple Watch has made it less of an either or decision. You don't have to completely abandon style and quality for utility.
But no, smartwatches - and the advance of technology - won't replace heirlooms.