KEVIN GRINDE: Rhythm Of The Trail — Apple’s Watch Won’t Replace A 35-year-old Timex

So called tech journalists gathered in San Francisco on Monday to breathlessly wait  in awe for  Apple CEO Tim Cook to announce details about the oh-so-cool, gotta-have-one “wearable device.

It’s a well-known fact that these reporters follow Cook around like puppies following their mother.

Meanwhile social media outlets vomited up-to-the second developments  — Live Streaming! — from the Apple Special Event.

Wired Magazine went wild and updated its live blog every 15 seconds with news about price and specs and availability.

“A steel Apple Watch will cost only $549 , which is “not an insane price,” the blogger said. “I think Apple could probably have gotten away with charging more.” And that’s the cheap version. The Apple Watch “Edition” will cost you only half a brand-new car: $10,000!

Remember, the Special Event was in San Francisco, which by itself pretty much explains a lot about the hype and mind-set surrounding the watch, I mean, wearable device’s hoopla.

The “wearable device” looks like what people have worn on their wrists for 100 years.

An image of the wearable device dominated The Huffington Post’s webpage with type that read “Apple of Your Arm.” Seriously?

But this wearable device isn’t just any watch. It’s a “smart watch.”

Apple told the world that  just  wearing one will set you apart from the crowd and you will magically become more intelligent and way cooler than your friend who’s wearing a Timex!

Yet to be seen is how many people will buy the gadget, which communicates with other Apple devices that have names beginning with the letter “I,” except the I is lower case, as in iTunes, iPad,  etc. For the watch to work however, you must own an iPhone. And the phone must run a version of Apple’s latest operating system. You can use Apple Pay to buy all the required stuff until you’re crying  iBebroke. And don’t forget to plug it in at night.

Don’t expect the smart wearable device to feed your fish or pay bills or give you a root canal, change your spark plugs or walk the dog.

As details about the watch were announced, jokes on Twitter began taking over center stage.

* “The biggest challenge for AppleWatch: Whether it makes you look like Dick Tracy, or just a Dick.”

* “AppleWatch: Class War Edition.”

* “Applewatch: The Apple Watch suntan mark is going to be the new status symbol.”

And those are the tame Tweets. Many more suggested the gadget and its demands go beyond abusurdity.

For example, the Apple watch will track your health if you want and no doubt store that information in the very secure Apple storage universe called The iCloud. And don’t worry, your health info, which everybody is dying to know, can catalog your activity: your calorie consumption, heart rate and how many times you’ve stood up today.  (“Hey, honey, I stood up 19 times today! My wearable device says so!”)

timex1My old, reliable 1980 Timex I found the other day in the bottom of a RubberMaid bin won’t reveal any of that. It will tell me that I’ve spent too long writing about Apple’s alleged smart gadget, but let me finish.

I was stunned when I found my old, dumb watch. I don’t remember saving it. I’m famous for buying and breaking a watch every two years. For some reason, I stashed the little Timex. Maybe because it was durable and did what it’s supposed to. It probably cost $10 back in the day, but I’m sure Timex could have charged more.

I don’t have to touch the watch or talk to it to get it to do its job. And it won’t leak any information about me to an insurance company or NSA.

The watch appeared while I was in a process of purging stuff that I’d collected over time. Like the baseball memorabilia, Man from U.N.C.L.E Club gear, “Lord of the Rings” calendars and other valuable treasures. I was curious about whether any of it was worth something, so I consulted Timex watches on eBay — and there it was.

One person posted a $35 starting bid for a similar model Timex. I quickly realized that’s $35 more than the Apple wearable device will be worth in 35 years. That’s because the Apple won’t work (think batteries and operating systems). An heirloom? I don’t think so.

Anyway, in a fit of affection and habit keeping simple, sturdy, reliable stuff working, I decided to reclaim the treasure, fire it up and wear it.

So, I popped off the case, and there they were, two tiny little batteries the size of orange seeds. Damned if I could read the type and damned if I own a magnifying glass. So being smarter than the watch, I realized I could take a photo of the batteries with the camera on my phone, which is smart,  and then increase the image size by four times and be able to read the print. Ha!

The batteries wore an etching that said “Type K Made in Britain.”

On my sixth attempt to find replacement power cells, I chose WalMart because stores in Grand Forks aren’t very smart with watch parts inventory.  Sure enough, in less than 30 seconds, the kind woman in the jewelry section helped me find the correct size battery. At home, I pressed the two cells into their snug compartment, snapped the lid on, turned it over  and saw flashing digital numerals. The Timex needed nine punches with a toothpick to properly set it and I was in business — except that the watch strap was missing a pin. But the gadget Told Time.

I repeated the hunt to find the watch pin part and ended up, yep, at Walmart.

“You’re back,” the lady said, smiling. (She’s about 8 years older than me.) “Does it work?”

I showed her the digital artifact and she noticed the limp, disconnected strap.

“I need a long pin, do you have one?”

She disappeared behind the cash register and explored a packet of watch pieces and parts. Five minutes later, she handed me my ready-to-wear watch. I slipped it on and asked how much I owed.

“Nothing,” she said, smiling, again.

I believe she had gotten a tiny bit of satisfaction and connected with my urge to make something old work again. We both relate to that concept daily.

So I was happy, she was happy, and my watch was happy but still not smart.

I’ll stick with the Timex for a while. It does what the company says it would do in its old marketing motto: “It takes a licking and keeps on ticking.”

And get this — I don’t have to plug it in to recharge every night!

Clearly, it’s become the Apple of my eye.

So sorry, Tim Cook, couldn’t resist.

You’ll  have to try a lot harder to convince me to buy your wearable device. And by the way, I owned an iPhone 5 for two years. I like my Galaxy 5 a lot better. But I won’t be buying a Samsung wearable device any time soon, either.

Besides, I have a hunch my 10-year-old grandson will say my 1980 Timex looks cool.

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