My mobile hasn’t rung in over a year.

A few years ago I posted about the need to rethink mobile phone rings – link.

Last year, at the beginning of Spring, I was in California to play a private gig. I wondered how I would keep track of time during the performance. I had stopped wearing a watch, because mechanical watches feel too heavy for my wrist, and I am too shortsighted to be able to see the time on a phone at my feet. When I perform with the band we all wear IEMs and I would sometimes ask our engineer to speak to me between songs to let me know what time it was, especially in venues that have a second show or a curfew. I have been to concerts where a musician on stage obviously checked their watch – I have heard that jokingly referred to as the musician salut – and felt that the act of looking at their watch ruined the idea that the experience of music should take us to a timeless place, a little journey outside of time.

Until the end of 2017 Jawbone made a bracelet that counted steps and tracked sleep. There was no display of any kind on the bracelet, but with the Jawbone phone app one could set up alarms. It worked well, the bracelet secretly vibrating at a set time to let me know that my performance should come to an end, but the Jawbone bracelets never lasted very long. I think I went through six of them in three years, and my last Jawbone UP had broken a few weeks earlier.

In the morning, while I drove around to find something to eat, I noticed an Apple store in the vicinity. I decided to drop in and to check out the Apple watch.

The watch is light, much lighter than a mechanical watch, and I never notice it while I am playing guitar. The vibrating alarm fucntion didn’t work for me because the alarm is persistent, meaning that one has to physically turn it off – the Jawbone UP alarm only vibrated for a few seconds and then shut itself off. I discovered that the calendar reminder function of the watch worked better than the alarm… just one little vibration.

In addition to minding time on stage the Apple watch also changed my relationship to the phone. My phone has been silent for the past year. When I get a call or a message my watch vibrates. Nobody else notices it. If I want I can see who is calling me, without pulling the phone out of my pocket. How civilized! It’s also so much easier to ignore a call now. The world could me a much quieter place…