Watches, pocketknives and smartphones

Swiss Army iPhone

Hit “Like” if you would buy a Swiss Army iPhone. Image from

It used to be that a watch and a pocketknife were the two most practical things a guy could carry (in addition to his wallet). Now days, it’s a smartphone.

I gave up wearing a watch about four years ago. Even when I had one on my wrist, I would instinctively reach for my BlackBerry to see what time it was. After all, I was checking my BlackBerry every five seconds, anyway. When the battery died in my watch—and I discovered that my local watch repair shop had gone out of business—I just kept putting off getting it replaced. Now my watch gathers dust on the dresser.

I used to carry a penknife, but 9/11 made possession of a sharp object a bit dicey, especially when you forgot to take it out of your pocket at the airport. The other day, I found a collection of old knives in a drawer—my Boy Scout knife, various pocketknives and a camping knife that has a fork and a spoon that fold out. I opened a box that contained a brand-new Swiss Army knife that I had received years ago. Hmm, I thought, I think I’ll start carrying this one around the house, and I slipped it into my pocket just like old times.

When you think about it, the smartphone is like a Swiss Army knife. Just when you thought there weren’t any more new things that could be added to a phone—wait, it’s a video recorder, a GPS, a flashlight—by golly, someone thinks of something new.

In the early days of cell phones, it was a real status symbol just to be seen with one. The first ones were about the size of those bulky walkie-talkies you see in World War II movies. As they slimmed down in size, strapping one to your belt was the “in” thing to do. A woman once said to me that it seemed to her that men displayed their phones like peacocks. She wondered if some men might be trying to compensate for their lack of size with a well-endowed phone. Just for the record, I did not own a cell phone at the time, so surely she could not have been speaking of me!

Later though, I did carry my BlackBerry in its official belt clip. I put it on every morning as if I were John Wayne strapping on my six-shooter. At meetings, I blended in with everyone else who excused himself during breaks to get his BlackBerry fix.

I got pretty fast at drawing my BlackBerry from its holster. Then I switched to an iPhone, and the holster look didn’t seem to suit me any more. Now I carry my phone in my pocket. This has required some rearranging of my pockets’ contents because I don’t like change or keys rubbing against my iPhone. All the more reason to add additional functionality to smartphones, like a retractable ballpoint pen, screwdriver or bottle opener.

I have to say, since I’ve switched to carrying my phone in my pocket, I don’t look at it as often. Reaching into my pocket requires work. The other day, I went through an entire dinner without looking at it. I’ve even been thinking about wearing my watch again. Wow!

So where do you carry your phone? Is it on your belt? In your pocket? In your purse? Or do you hand-carry your phone, plopping it down everywhere you go (only to later ask, “Has anyone seen my cell phone?”).

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5 Responses to Watches, pocketknives and smartphones

  1. Tom McCollum says:

    Hey–I resemble that remark! But then again, don’t we all. As usual your comments are spot on. Thanks for sharing–I enjoyed your insights.


    PS: What about the guys carrying those big Androids… what are they trying to say???

  2. I usually leave my phone at home — for a break. There are very few messages that can’t wait a few hours for a reply and I hate being tethered to technology all the time. I do wear a watch…I think it’s a stylish accessory and much more fun!

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