Why wear a smartwatch when you have a phone?

Why wear a smartwatch

My mistake was honesty. I retweeted Alan Martin’s article about wearing a Fitbit on your ankle with a line explaining why I was tempted: when I wear my watch on my left wrist and a Fitbit tracker on the right, people always ask why I’m wearing two watches. Reader Michael Hyde responded thus: “Ahh, but why do you wear a watch when you have phone?”

If you’d asked me that before I started wearing fitness watches (a TomTom Sports Watch first, then my still-lovely Garmin Fenix 5X), then I’d have given you one straight answer: “So that I can tell the time without removing my phone from my pocket.”

Simple but true, and with the added benefit that I’m not sucked into the mini-dopamine-fixes of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and email now that I’ve been suckered into putting my phone in my hand.

But I have other reasons…

Why I wear a watch when I have a phone

Reason 1: To triage calls. That’s a fancy way of really saying, “My God, I’ve got a call! This never happens anymore!” I tend to leave my phone on vibrate or silent, which means – if my phone isn’t hooked up to my watch, or I’m not wearing it – that I often don’t spot a call until it’s too late.

Reason 2: Triage messages. My usual response when I receive a message is to mute the relevant WhatsApp conversation for eight hours. Especially at the moment, when people are sharing many, many videos. Often funny, but honestly, guys, I’m working.

Sometimes, though, I receive a genuinely useful text or WhatsApp message (“DROP EVERYTHING! Ocado has a slot!”) and by getting it on my wrist I know whether or not to act instantly.

Reason 3: It tracks me. I’m not addicted to Garmin’s health stats, promise, but I do use a daily steps target as a handy reminder to keep active. Not 10,000 steps but 7,500, because Garmin is way stingier than Fitbit when it comes to calling a step a step.

Reason 4: I like it. I realise this is wishy-washy, and it’s not as if I’m wearing a watch to be stylish (my Fenix 5X, I’ve been told many times, looks like a lump), but it’s now as fixed a part of my daily wardrobe as my glasses. I’d miss it if I wasn’t wearing my watch.

Why I wear a fitness watch

I don’t need a watch to tell me I’m training well, but it sure helps motivate me

While this could be Reason 5, it’s more important than that. I wear a fitness watch in particular because I like to keep fit. (If Mensa is looking for new members, let them know I’m available.)

More to the point, I like to be outside – following government deadlines, naturally – and I need to stay active.

Why? Because if I don’t, I will move from my current 12ish stone weight to the 14ish stone weight that my body apparently feels is right for my 5′ 8″ frame. Although I did just eat an apple doughnut, so my own bad eating habits may play an ever-so-minor part.

And that, watch cynics, is why I continue to wear a watch.

NOW READ THIS: Can a £75 smartwatch compete with the big boys?

About the author

Tim Danton

Tim Danton is editor-in-chief of PC Pro magazine and has written about technology since 1999. He enjoys playing with gadgets, playing with words and playing tennis. Email

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