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Doug Clark: Watches get smarter, but something can be said for wisdom

Gather ’round children. Old Uncle Doug has a story to tell.

Believe it or not, but there was once a time when every American kid would’ve sold their little brother or sister to own a Dick Tracy watch that would let you make calls just like on a telephone.

Even better, the Dick Tracy wristwatch had a screen so you could actually SEE the people you were yakking with.

I know. I spent a considerable chunk of misspent childhood pretending to talk on a Dick Tracy watch that I created out of a piece of wood and some string.

Calling all cars. Calling all cars …

What’s that?

Who’s Dick Tracy?

He was this, um, this detective who was in the Sunday newspaper comics, and …

Aw, just Google it, ya little brats.

Uncle Doug doesn’t want to get bogged down into all that.

The point is that this fictional watch from my childhood is available* thanks to the nice friendly capitalists at Apple.

(*Yes, I know the Apple Watch is not the first smarty-pants watch on the market. But Uncle Doug was seduced into the Church of Apple years ago and, like any loyal cultist, considers all others apostate.)

The Apple Watch will be available, that is.

It took two calls to the Spokane Apple Store (the robot who answered the phone cut me off during the first call), but I finally was allowed to speak with an actual biped.

The new Apple Watch, he said, will be displayed in stores on April 10 for pre-ordering purposes.

Thank goodness. That’ll buy everyone enough breathing room to make the following crucial decision.

A. Buy the basic no-status cheapskate version that starts at $349.

B. Spring for the solid 18-karat gold Apple watch that tops out at $17,000.

The obvious choice, of course, is B – dip into your IRA or take out a second mortgage and get a real keepsake to leave to your loved ones.

As long as you’re not planning to live any longer than two years, that is.

Two years is about as long as any Apple products last before the friendly capitalists unleash a new-and-improved model that makes your old stuff look about as high-tech as great-grandmother’s Graphophone.

That’s how Uncle Doug wound up with iPods, iPads, clamshell laptops and a drawer full of discarded iPhones.

But relevancy is only one reason for taking a jaundiced view of the Apple Watch.

There’s also the matter of style.

It’s a fact that nobody wears two watches at once. There’s some unspoken law in the culture that makes wearing more than one watch as unfashionable as wearing two toupees.

Based on this one-watch-per-human calibration, I’m not about to divorce my Omega Seamaster despite the fact that it’s old and clunky and, by weight alone, could double as a boat anchor.

I don’t even wear this analog dinosaur because it keeps great time.

It doesn’t. At its dialed-in best, my Omega still probably loses a few seconds every day.

If I want to know the exact time, I’ll consult my iPhone.

Smartphones and other computer devices receive their time signals from the invisible beams that emanate out of the atomic clocks at the U.S. Naval Observatory.

These are the same powerful forces that keep Donald Trump’s hair mound so perfectly in place.

My old Omega doesn’t contain any microchips or quartz crystals. If you peeked inside you’d see a lot of shiny little wheels and gizmos that somebody (possibly Swiss elves) had to cut and polish and put together without dropping anything.

I find old-school watchmaking more amazing than any new smartwatch.

Not to mention that James Bond wears an Omega Seamaster.

Well, the new Bond does, anyway. The original and admittedly way-cooler 007 sported a Rolex Submariner.

But I can’t afford a Rolex any more than I can fork $17 grand over to Apple.

To be fair, the Apple Watch does do a lot of incredible things.

“You can read emails, summon Siri, receive calls and track fitness goals on your watch. Facebook alerts, WeChat messages and Twitter trends can also be beamed to your wrist without pulling out your smartphone,” stated a Techradar web review.

The Apple Watch also tells time.

But this wrist miracle won’t do everything, it seems.

I was actually shocked when the Apple “specialist” told me that the latest marvel didn’t come with the FaceTime technology I already have on my iPhone and iPad.

The Apple Watch won’t let you see the person you’re talking to.

Where’s Dick Tracy when we need him?

Doug Clark is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or by email at dougc@spokesman.com.