03/13/2013 ecmyers


We always pay a lot of attention to the mechanisms of time travel–a DeLorean, the Millenium Shortcut, slingshotting around the sun at warp speed–but every time traveler has another important tool: a watch.  Sometimes it’s just there for symbolism, like the paradoxical pocket watch in Somewhere in Time, but often it serves a more practical purpose, what it was made for–to keep track of time.

martyClocks are everywhere in Back to the Future, and Marty McFly’s digital watch is more than just a gag; there’s a reason that the poster shows him checking his watch: being in the right place at exactly the right time is a major plot point. Recently, another timepiece caught my eye in one of my favorite science fiction shows, Fringe.

Without spoiling the surprising twists the series takes, in its final season, there’s a certain amount of time travel involved. In episode seven of season five, “Five-Twenty-Ten”, Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson) needs to pay very careful attention to the time at which specific events take place… and I really liked the watch he used. (I have no idea how you keep that synced while jumping around in time, but whatever.)


I figured it would be tricky finding it since the brand name was blacked out for the episode, but naturally, someone else on the internet had already identified it. Thanks, internet! (It turns out that identifying watches worn by celebrities is a hobby for some people.) Ultimately, I learned it’s a Fossil Relic watch, model ZR15552… which is no longer in production. Darn! But hey, there’s eBay. Thanks again, internet! In short, I now own a little piece of Fringe history and I’m prepared for my next temporal displacement.


I’m really gonna miss that show.

Watches almost seem like anachronisms today, with many people just using their cell phones to tell the time. Do you still wear one? Have you ever bought something because you saw it in a TV show or film?

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I'm a YA author who spends too much time on the internet.

Comments (4)

  1. DemetriosX

    I still wear a watch: a Citizen EcoDrive Skyhawke with a US Navy design that my father passed on to me a couple of years ago, because he couldn’t see the little numbers anymore. I’m already having problems with that myself. Maybe that’s why watches these days are so freaking enormous.

    There are a couple of reasons I still wear a watch. 1. I’m old enough that it’s a habit; I got my first watch over 40 years ago.

    2. I rarely carry a cell phone. My wife and I have one between us that is taken by whoever goes out the door to go shopping or whatever. Its entire purpose is to call home and ask what else needs to be bought or to call ahead and say I/we will arrive in half an hour or so. Supposedly it can also take pictures and play music, but its never been used for that. And the clock is not reliable, since we always forget to charge the phone or set the clock. That’s about 75% because we live in a hole and can barely get reception from any of the three networks.

  2. I suppose I must be just young enough that as soon as I got cell phone, I stopped wearing watches! I have always found them somewhat uncomfortable to wear anyway…

    … and the embarrassing secret is: I learned to read analog clocks very late, like, in French class. I’d always had digital watches and had never needed to learn, until the French textbook pages were full of analog clocks and I had to write what time it was in French. (And knew it would be on a test sooner or later.)

    I can read analog clocks now, but I still kind of have to consciously focus on it for a moment to avoid getting it wrong, and usually take longer than anyone else around me. Most people just assume it’s my eyesight, and figure I can’t see far enough to read the clock at a glance…

    By the way, the image at the top of your post brought back to me a very happy memory: the best screening of Back to the Future I’ve ever seen. They did an all-night marathon of the series at the International SF Festival in Gwacheon a few years ago, and the audience was packed… mostly with Korean SF fans who absolutely loved the films, and cheered for all of their favorite parts. Fun night.

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