Since its beginning, horology has been focused on quantifying time, measuring it for practical purposes in every present moment. In their earliest incarnation, sundials provided extremely rough, sometimes off-tangent estimations. And as technology advanced the science of timekeeping, the concern was either how to make measurements more precise or how to make these timepieces look finer on our persons.
That being said, in the age of smart watches capable of syncing up to our phones to notify us of our daily affairs, it is unusual to conceptualize a watch that tries to compete by promising wearers that they’ve achieved the hollow dream of stopping time.
But let me clarify here: What Watch hasn’t ripped the fi away from sci-fi. They’ve simply provided us with the means to more conveniently and precisely capture moments, and store them for future reference.
Per their website, What Watches put the focus “not on time, but how you choose to spend it.” This statement unfolds the philosophy behind the New York-based company: we’ve spent so many resources on trying to know what time it is that we often neglect the question of what it is for. Thus, it can be said that What Watch specializes not so much in marking the moment, but facilitating its transition to memory.
Their remedy for this gap is a fruit of our synchronized digital era, as What Watches, with the push of a button on the timepiece, transmit moments of our choosing to phone-based apps for future reference. The button records the exact time it was pressed and uses that as a timestamp for whatever photos and videos you take within that span of time. Dots or squares on the display mark which months had the most memories. When a user accesses the app, they can later add descriptions to the moment, giving them room to write how the memory affected them or struck them, and then share them with friends if they’d like. It’s worth noting that the app, as a post-moment experience, is aptly called What?Now, which, in hindsight, will never fail to trigger reflective nostalgia.
In an extension of its fascination with history, each of its four model designs are inspired by a different era. The Classic collection, through its recognizable refined look, is a tribute to the heritage of watchmaking. The cumbersome pieces of the Radar collection recall a Cold War-era military design. The Modern collection pieces are stripped for simplicity. And the Pocket collection is bait for watch-wearing old souls.
If you’re looking for a gift for your philosopher/Murakami-obsessed friend, your search is over. This is the definitive timepiece for the contemplative man.
What Watch is available for online shipping on their website, via Shopify.