I wore a Garmin Vivoactive watch for several years. It was an older model with some basic smart features. I could answer incoming calls and see notifications from my phone. But that’s about it.
When it finally died, my initial thought was – I guess it’s time to upgrade. I thought an Apple Watch was the next step. But that also bothered me. Why do I need an Apple Watch? Why do I need to be even more connected to technology?
I started thinking about all of the time I had spent on my phone and the watch. Even though the smart features on the Vivoactive were on the simple side, I still found myself constantly tinkering with it.
Around this time, I started becoming more mindful of where my personal information was going. I was getting more spam calls throughout the day. My inbox was bloated with promo emails.
I remember buying something at a store. The cashier rang up my items and then asked for my email. Out of habit I almost spit it out, but stopped and politely asked why he needed it. He vaguely explained that emails really help them. At that moment I decided that I was ok with not helping them. I confirmed that he didn’t need my email to complete the purchase and we moved on.
Deciding whether I should upgrade to another smartwatch or not was wrapped up in my overhaul of how freely I share my personal information with people who want to sell me things. I decided to go against my digital urges and go with a simple analog watch. And I love it. I felt better as soon as I made the decision, even before I had a new watch.
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I wanted something simple and durable that had a versatile look. And I didn’t want to spend hundreds of dollars, which is easy to do when buying a watch. I searched watch forums for the best budget options. I read reviews. I ultimately chose a fan favorite – the Seiko 5. You can find it for about $100, depending on the model.
The 5 checked all of my boxes. The face is simple and easy to read. The watch winds automatically with movement which means I don’t have to worry about it. The description claims the watch is water-resistant to 99 feet but is not suitable for swimming. I spend a lot of time in the water so this was a little concerning. I wear it every day in almost every situation, including swimming and fishing in saltwater. No issues so far. However, this is not a dive watch. I wouldn’t rely on it for extended underwater use. The date has to be manually updated depending on the month, but only occasionally.
I only have a few minor gripes about the Seiko 5. Over time (ha), the watch seems to speed up, sometimes as much as five minutes. I’m not sure if that’s just a general issue with automatic watches, or something related to how much I move throughout the day. But it’s a quick fix. I wasn’t interested in the canvas band the watch comes with. I don’t like how it looks or feels on my wrist. The canvas would probably soften up over time, but I like the absent feel of silicone. I immediately upgraded the band. Most of the time I don’t even feel the watch. It’s comfortable and durable.
Some users seem to have an issue with the size of the watch. It’s definitely on the small side – 37 mm. I also occasionally wear a Casio Pathfinder – another outdoor fan favorite – and that watch by comparison is 51 mm. It’s a behemoth next to my Seiko 5. But I’ve grown to appreciate the smaller Seiko. I just don’t need all of that bulk on my wrist.
There are plenty of solid budget watches out there. The Seiko 5 is more of a field watch style but there are durable digital options as well. But beyond aesthetics, the simple analog watch helped me take one more step towards a healthy disconnect from technology.
A part of me still wants an Apple Watch. You might love your smartwatch, and I understand why. They’re amazing! But I also need some boundaries between my life and all the data mining the big tech giants are really after through their products – even if those are just perceived boundaries.
Google, Facebook, Apple, and Amazon already know more about me than I can control. Those companies offer incredible products and services that enhance my life and productivity. But in the past, I’ve offered up plenty of personal information to tech giants without much resistance. Not buying an Apple Watch probably doesn’t make much of a difference in terms of my overall digital privacy, but I also don’t need to make it any easier for them to predict what I’ll want next.