The Best of Andy Rooney

I wear my wristwatch with the face on the under side of my wrist because I like it that way. I find it easier to see and I'm used to it. A friend gave me the watch about 20 years ago. It still keeps perfect time and I have no intention of getting a new one. Wearing my watch under my wrist may be an affectation but it's my affectation and I like it.

The number of ads for expensive watches in magazines and newspapers makes me suspicious. There's an ad in my paper for a watch made by "Audemars Piguet." I'm sure it's a very good watch, but the company is careful about not saying how much it costs. All they mention is the model: "The 57th Street Royal Oak Offshore Limited Edition." I think the people who wrote the advertisement assume that no one wants a 56th Street watch that's made of pine or maple, or from an edition that is unlimited. Also, my assumption is that the watch is extremely expensive. Whenever advertisers don't list the price of something it usually means it costs more than you want to spend.

Wristwatches started to get popular in the 1920s. Before that, most men carried pocket watches. Pocket watches had large faces, which made them easy to read. Men at the time wore vests because vests had watch pockets. I think the disappearance of pocket watches can be attributed to the vest's demise.

When I was a boy, all suits came with vests. I don't think women had anything comparable as a place to keep a watch. Those who did carry watches probably kept them in their handbags.

It's been a long while since I've bought a new suit, but I don't think suits always come with vests now. My mother bought me a suit when I was about 12 years old. It came with a vest that had six pockets. I was so young I didn't have six things to put in them.

Today's watch designers are coming up with all sorts of new ways of informing us of the time. Some watches are digital; some are powered by the sun; some are powered by miniature lithium batteries.

It wasn't always easy to know what time it was if you didn't carry a watch. Now, there are big clocks everywhere you go.

If you listen to the radio, the announcers are forever telling you what time it is because the time is usually tied to a commercial. They feel obliged to give you the time of day while they're trying to sell you something.

My Uncle Bill gave me my first watch, and I think it was called an Ingersoll. As I remember, an Ingersoll watch cost $1 and it kept pretty good time but it had to be wound every day or it stopped. Winding a watch is just one of the jobs we no longer have to take care of, but it was easy and satisfying. Now, my watch winds itself. I suppose the time will come when we'll have self-living lives.

I hope the watch that I wear today, dial side down, never breaks, because I'm not thrilled by all of the watches I see in the newspaper. They're all a bit too high-tech for my taste.

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