Only digital brings stress

The Apple Watch is gone and has been replaced with a mechanical that simply tells the time.

Kindle books are gone and I read from these strange things made of paper.

Task lists on my iPhone are gone and replaced with a small notebook and a pen.

It dawned on me that almost everything in my life that causes stress each day is presented in digital form.

Work emails and instant messages, spam emails at home, social media messages that annoy me, news that gets me down etc etc. It is not the fault of the products that all of these are presented on, but they are the carrier and they do not need to be.

Of course I cannot lose my work laptop, but everything else is optional.

It would be silly to suggest that reading a Kindle book is stressful, but it is digital and I do understand the enjoyment of looking from left to right at printed ink on paper. Every letter feels immovable as thought there were meant to be where they are. They are static and feel imperceptibly more real.

Writing tasks down in a notebook is a pain in the backside, but it does force me to proactively check the list and to get the things done when I have time, rather than when the digitised alarm tells me to.

The Apple Watch is perhaps the biggest change which is testament to how well it does what it is intended to do. No more immediately notifications and no more prompts to tell me when I should be standing up etc. I have no notifications set up on my Fitbit Alta and am all the freer for it.

It’s early days and I am sure that this experiment will not last, but it’s good to try and to understand just how deeply digital has invaded my life.

I have nothing against phones, laptops and smartwatches. I truly believe that they are all extremely positive, but I kind of like not feeling dependent on them, for a little while at least.

Behind the dial

While in these respects Tudor and Rolex movements diverge, both companies test their prototypes the same way. In a lab just a few metres from Tudor’s conceptors, designs are put through their paces using identical processes and equipment to the sister brand – indeed, many of the machines here bear the Rolex logo. The common goal of the machinery is to artificially age prototypes and see how they fare. So, there’s a device that rapidly twists the winding stem, another that repeatedly sets the date and one that pushes and pulls the crown – some of these simulating up to 27 years of use. Elsewhere on the premises, there’s a room shared by Tudor and Rolex where prototype watches are subjected to shocks – dropped from heights, smashed with hammers – to make sure they can survive even the most careless owner. The only time Tudor uses its own dedicated equipment is to test unique functions, such as the alarm on the Tudor Heritage Advisor… More here.

Always good to see what justifies the cost of the better timepieces.

When my son was 6 I used a Treo 650…

My son is 18 years old now and in 2006 we travelled to Orlando to take him to Disney for his 6th birthday.

It feels like an age ago, but is in fact just 12 years. Think about 12 years in the grand scheme of time and it is not much at all, but in a time when people criticise the lack of innovation in the mobile industry it occurred to me that the leap has been gigantic.

I was using a Tree 650 in 2006, a phone that required continual resets to manage the lack of dynamic memory. I could not get a mobile signal because none of the US mobile carriers could sell me a SIM that would work and yet it was a marvel of technology to me.

It was my alarm clock, my calendar, my photo album, games machine, camera (to a point), sat nav and of course it was my phone, in a time when texts and calls were still very important.

I was an early adopter and people laughed at my phone and my apparent obsession with it, but a couple of years later millions of eyes were opened by Apple with the first iPhone. All of a sudden people were talking about phones as PDAs and media players and I felt as if my early adopter personality was finally understood.

With the announcement of the Galaxy Fold, which some are calling the first true innovation in many years, I think about the past 12 years and how much has changed. A lot of what I do with my phone has not changed, but the way it works is a world away from 2006. It never slows down, it never crashes and I literally do countless different things every single day without even thinking about how impressive it is.

The idea of a folding phone is impressive indeed, but to me it is not even close to how much the mobile world has changed in the past 12 years. We should be grateful for what we have and enjoy the fact that we can do almost anything we want today with our phones, and in 12 years time we will likely still be moaning about the lack of innovation even though they will have improved beyond all that we can imagine today.

Be grateful.

Apple’s strange guarantee for Steve’s replacement devices

A friend at work, Steve, is now on his third pair of Beats X headphones because the previous two started to lose audio quality. He called Apple support and was asked to take them to his nearest Apple store where they had to be inspected. He then had to return a few days later to pick up a replacement pair once they had been delivered to the store. This happened on both occasions.

Now, this is not the best experience for anyone because if he had bought his Beats X from PC World (terrible company?) they would have replaced them there and then, but it seems as though Apple does not keep replacement stocks of the Beats which is in contrast to if a much bigger item broke such as an iPhone or an iPad, or even a Mac.

Anyway, he got his replacements, but there is another part to this that perplexes me. On both occasions he was told that the guarantee on the replacement devices only runs until the end of the original 12 month period. So, if his Beats X break after 6 months he only get another 6 months guarantee and in the latest instance only another 3 months.

I don’t get this.

If Apple is replacing a product surely it is of a standard where 12 months should be applicable. I realise that this could potentially go on forever if the products keep breaking, but I would argue that they should not break so often (I am also on my third pair of Beats X) and it would be a nice gesture to offer the full 12 months if the customer has to make repeat visits to get them replaced.

What do you think?

Music

In the beginning (well, my beginning anyway) there were LPs and my parents old 33s. Then cameth cassette tapes and behold the radiant wonder of the CD. Upon this time was a golden age of mixtapes, whereupon one might assemble a cherrypicked selection of tunes (and come on – some may disagree but wouldn’t you say most albums are a few good songs and a bunch of filler?) for thine only pleasure or to pitcheth a bit of woo… (gettest thou to the High Fidelity if you are ill-informed of this most wond’rous art.) More at Kirk’s UI Dev Blog.

Kirk covers a lot of the frustrations of dealing with keeping music in 2019 and I get where he is coming from. It also coincides with a conversation I had with a friend from work, a friend who buys music on CD. Yes, seriously. He buys music on little discs, the like of which people used to buy in the olden days.

It dawned on me that time has moved on to the point that for some of us physical music makes no sense at all. The idea that you should buy music on a physical disc for it to feel real makes sense until you realise this is an illusion. Imagine for instance 400 CDs on shelves- how many of them would get played and even those that do would only come off the shelf very occasionally. They sit there for 99.9% of the time doing nothing apart from taking up space and using the Earths resources to be made in the first place.

Also, my experience with Apple Music is one of discovery to the point that the majority of music I play on a daily basis was unknown to me 2 years ago. Artists like Billie Eilish would have passed me by completely were it not for streaming and I am now more than happy to pay a monthly subscription, presumably for the rest of my life, to have access to all of the music I need. CDs be damned.

Note: the music in the video below is brilliant, the visuals, however, may not suit those of you with a nervous disposition.

Impossible to function without the big five tech giants?

The technophobic tendency to attribute this failure to lack of moral fibre should be resisted. It’s not easy to cut yourself off from a system that links you to friends, family and employer, all of whom expect you to be contactable and sometimes get upset when you’re not. There are powerful network effects in play here against which the individual addict is helpless. And while “just say no” may be a viable strategy in relation to some services (for example, Facebook), it is now a futile one in relation to the networked world generally. We’re long past the point of no return in our connected lives… More here.

I must admit I can’t image not using any of them.

On Death

It’s a brilliant thing he’s doing. His response to the guy who lost his wife is, to borrow a phrase, a heartbreaking work of staggering genius. tweeted here.

Nick Cave is a special human being.


They would not be able to enjoy school, friends, their teams, or birthday parties. They’d be watching too closely—how she looked, moved, acted, ate, or didn’t. Marla wanted her daughters to stay children: unburdened, confident that tomorrow would look like yesterday… More here.

Great article. Sad, but inspiring.

Tudor Black Bay GMT thoughts. Too good for me?

A grail watch that is so good it just doesn’t feel right

For many years I have wanted a Tudor Black Bay Heritage. It has always been the watch I look at and consider to be ‘the one’. I cannot explain why, but the cliche of ‘it needs to speak to you’ is 100% true in the case of watches and the invisible emotions that can make you love or hate a watch are completely real.

When I found myself in a position to finally get my grail I made some enquiries with regards to the red Heritage and was advised by my authorised deal that he had none. I was ready to check elsewhere, they are readily available, but he mentioned that he had just received a Black Bay GMT. That made me stop in my tracks.

You see, the GMT is not easy to find at all which is evidenced by this snippet taken from a watch forum discussing the availability in London last August-

So far:

John Lewis Oxford Street – Long Waiting List
Ernest Jones – Cheapside – 70 people waiting
Goldsmiths – Victoria – 200 people waiting
Watches of Switzerland – Regent St – 120 people waiting

Will update information as when I know more…

This has not changed much at all and to this day many people have been waiting for a long time to get their hands on one. So I asked him to keep it aside and I popped into the store the next day. £2,780 later it was mine.

A huge amount of money for a watch, but the picture is much bigger and far deeper when it comes to this particular watch. I shall try to explain why this amount of money makes perfect sense-

1/ It is a Tudor Black Bay. Try to buy a second-hand Black Bay and you will pay close to the original asking price so it is hard to lose money if you keep it in decent condition.

2/ The GMT is scarce and they are regularly changing hands for between £3,000 and £3,500 and in some cases even higher.

3/ The Rolex GMT Master II is £6,850. Yes, it is in some ways a very different watch, but in others the similarities are stark.

4/ It is an asset which holds its price in a way almost all other products fail to do. If troubling times come, I have +£2,500 to sell at any point. Potentially I will have a lot more once a few years have passed.

There was logically no reason to turn down the GMT even though when I sat in the jewellers with it on my wrist I was not overcome. It was not speaking to me as I expected it to.

I bought it anyway.

A strange thing happened over the next few days and especially so on the first wear. I was paranoid of getting any scratch or mark on it, presumably because of points 2 and 3 above, and so I was being extra careful with resting my arm on the desk etc. It took 30 minutes for me to pull out a second watch from my bag and replace this one in a safe place so that it did not gain any mark.

What was more strange, however, was how I felt wearing a watch that is worth approximately £3,000. It felt overwhelming in a small way. I didn’t feel like someone who should be wearing such an expensive watch. It’s not me and I simply did not feel worthy because it felt so out of place on my arm.

I am not a Rolex guy. Never have been and I never will be. There are many reasons for this; the designs feel as though they have been put together for other people to see and not for the wearer to enjoy. The Submariner is wonderful, but now so generic that everyone who gets into watches owns one. When people reach a certain financial position in life that they want to stamp they buy a Rolex. They don’t look for something different, they go for a Rolex because it is the safe choice.

The Pepsi icon. Rotary has tried to copy it, but failed in a big way. As have many other brands..

For all of the greatness of Rolex, and there is much, the designs feel as though they are aimed at people at least a generation ahead of me and maybe more. Look at the GMT Master II and compare it to the Black Bay GMT- the Master II comes over as far too decorative whereas the Bay feels somehow younger and cooler.

Anyway, I digress. I wore the Black Bay GMT the next day and it managed to get more wrist time than in the previous 24 hours, and the sense of ‘not good enough to wear it’ started to dissipate. But then another feeling clouded my thoughts. The red and blue bezel, which is made up of two perfectly matched subtle colours, pops in the subtlest of ways. It is not noticeable most of the time, but now and again I appreciate the colour scheme used on GMT. The white snowflake hands work perfectly with the grey(?) dial and the GMT hand of course makes sense in red. However, the sense of silver, red and blue all together can come over as too cautious. It is hard to put into words, but it is perfectly possible that I am truly smitten with the Black Bay Heritage and the gold hands and markers. It will sound silly to those of you who don’t have an interest in watches, but when you see something that fits the way you are, it is hard to move to the opposite.

The lack of a date window on the Heritage helps a lot as does the full red bezel and the gold of course, and it is these little things that make it feel special to me. It makes it feel just more special than the GMT. I cannot of course criticise the GMT for this because it is a true tool watch with a brilliantly intuitive movement and it makes no apologies for that. It should be perfect for me because it ticks every box, but the Heritage feels just a little more perfect.

Overall though I am left with the feeling that a £3,000 watch is too much for me. Do I not feel worthy to wear an expensive watch? Does it feel like a risk carrying something like this with me every day? I don’t know, but it makes me feel uncomfortable and somewhat guilty deep down. It feels arrogant and unnecessary which is bizarre because I have always wanted a watch like this. My iPhone cost £1,000 and I don’t have any guilt about carrying that around so why is a watch a problem?

I don’t know why it is, but I suspect that I will end up wearing a £300 Seiko again and will continue to ‘look up’ to watches like the Black Bay GMT. Something about not being able to attain an object makes it seem more special to me than when I have it on my wrist, and it is kind of a disappointing feeling.

If you have no such worries, however, get this watch. It is wonderful and probably the best value watch on the market today when compared to its peers.