Rejecting Technology for Nostalgia

Kevin Rose, definitely not in The Valley anymore. (From Business Insider)
Kevin Rose, definitely not in The Valley anymore. (From Business Insider)

Business Insider’s Dennis Green recently penned a piece entitled “Why this tech icon turned his back on Silicon Valley to run a wristwatch blog in New York City,” wherein Green explained why Digg founder Kevin Rose left Silicon Valley to run an online watch blog:

Talk to Rose, and you quickly realize it was more than just moving coasts and becoming CEO of someone else’s startup. It was getting away from the tech scene and all it represents, and grounding himself with a new, more mindful approach to work and life — one centered on an outdated technology instead of one that’s constantly advancing [emphasis added].

This struck me as both ironic and profound. Here’s the quintessential “startup guy” living in the Bay Area, and he up and moves to New York to run a watch blog.

“There’s something very anti-tech and hipster about mechanical timepieces — a rejection of technology,” Rose told me on a recent visit to HODINKEE’s headquarters in the trendy Manhattan district of SoHo. “I love that, actually.”

As odd as this may sound at first, I understand where he’s coming from.

I sold my latest Apple Watch several months ago. I did so because of two reasons. Firstly, I was tired of fighting with the very slow watchOS 2. It truly was irritating to invoke a timer from the complication, only to see the spinny-spin for several seconds before the Watch was again responsive. In fact, just about every interaction on the Watch is prone to spinny-spins. That’s not what a watch should be. I should be able to glance at the watch, interact, and be done with the whole thing in under 3 seconds. Many have said as much: but WatchKit 1.0 and watchOS 2 really were betas.

Secondly—and perhaps more importantly—I just had this feeling that the world of mechanical watches wasn’t one I wanted to pass up. The Apple Watch was certainly useful. It’s certainly the most capable “tool watch” of any tool watch. But it wasn’t timeless. It was just as special as the latest iPhone: spectacular up release626, but months later, altogether eclipsed by the next model.

There’s no eclipsing a 6263 Panda-dial Paul Newman. The new Daytonas are great, sure, but no amount of newness could ever beat those vintage references. The same can be said for almost every other famous marque from Geneva and elsewhere.

The watch world is about the only industry where innovation is not entirely necessary. There are evolving technologies, sure. And trends come and go, sure. But the mechanical watch world is about as antithetical to the world of technology as dogs are to cats.

Wearing a mechanical watch is a rejection of technology, which is becoming increasingly omnipresent.

👏🏿 to Kevin Rose for taking a step “backwards” (where backwards == forwards).

Here’s some meta for you: I’ve known that Kevin Rose was the CEO of HODINKEE for about a week. For that same amount of time, I also knew that John Mayer was a principle investor in the new venture between Rose’s Watchville and Benjamin Climber’s original HODINKEE.

I only knew these facts because I spent the past week researching the heck out of watches, and I somehow stumbled on a TechCrunch article from 2014, describing the new venture between Rose and Clymer.

(via Jon Edwards)