Friday, 2 May 2014

The Casio Man

Once upon a time when I was a boy of single digit age, my parents went on an overseas visit. Back then, at least as per my family’s background, that sort of thing was regarded as a once in a lifetime event. I soon received a postcard (remember those?) reporting a gift they got me: a digital watch. For the time, a digital watch was probably the peak of personal gadgetry one could aspire for. And I got to have one!
Mine was not just any digital watch. According to that same postcard, “my” digital watch had a beeping alarm, it beeped at the mark of every hour, and at 12 o’clock it beeped 12 times!
I remember feeling puzzled about this whole 12 beeps at 12 thing. Why would I want my watch to do that? In particular, why would I want it to wake me up at midnight? I could see the need for an hourly reminder: in the Israel where everything happens, there still is the sacred custom of standing still by the radio to hear the latest hourly news flash. But 12 times at 12?
Lucky for me, it turned out my parents did not understand what the guy at the shop told them. Sure, my new watch beeped quite a lot, but I was soon able to subdue it to my will. That particular watch, one of the first ever Casio digital watches, stayed with me throughout the bulk of my school years. In fact, it started my long term mutual career with Casio watches.
Remember those bulky Data Bank Casio watches, the type that’s now making a comeback as geeky retro? Well, I had me not one but two of those. The first, able to memorise some 50 names and phone numbers, served me through the bulk of high school. Who needs to sneak in notes to copy from during tests when one could fiddle with one’s watch? The second, a water resistant model, served me through my army years. And the university days that followed…
I had myself a Casio hiatus when, post uni graduation, I suffered from severe ego inflation. Casio was not good enough for me anymore; I wanted an expensive Swiss watch to go with that “I am the king of the world” state of mind. It took way too long for that Titanic to sink: For a while there I actually toyed with the idea of getting myself a Rolex, even though I thought – and I still do – that they look like sh*t. Who cares what they look like, it’s a status symbol.
I am happy to report I grew up, eventually. Tired of the Swiss made bulk and the lack of functionality (a watch that can only tell the time is not the right watch for this Inspector Gadget!), I went looking for... watches. Without thinking much, I was caught out by the colourful line-up of Casio again. Roll forward a few years to the past month, and I got myself another colourful Casio – sort of a psychological compensation for all the recent family grief. But a nice good watch, with a compass (that I already have on my phone), time zone support (that’s already on my phone), alarms (the phone’s much better there), stopwatches (did I mention my phone?) and a thermometer (that my phone doesn’t have, but which constantly tells me it’s about 30 degrees when I wear the watch – it’s good to know I’m still alive and warm!).
Thus my story with watches went through a whole circle in order to convince me I am, and always was, a Casio person.

It’s interesting to note I bought my new Casio watch during a year in which Apple is expected to debut its own iWatch, or whatever they’re going to call it. Was the latest Casio a sensible move, given my history with iGadgets and my complete and total imprisonment in the Apple camp?
On one hand, I do not see the fuss over smartwatches. What could they offer that my phone isn’t already offering? On the other, I suspect a Jony Ive led Apple would not be stupid enough to release a smartwatch for no good reason. Specifically, it looks like Apple is going to aim at the fitness market.
Will I want a watch that tells me how lazy I am? Probably. Eventually.

Image by brandon shigeta, Creative Commons licence

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