Buying Time: The Lessons of a Cheap Watch

“Make time for life,” advises Armitron, a company that manufactures affordable watches for men and women.  A casual reading of their slogan delivers a simple, positive message.  From young adulthood to old age, work consumes most people’s time.  Leisure must be scheduled and therefore takes effort as well.  If a person fails to strike a balance, exhaustion and unhappiness can sink in.  Who doesn’t appreciate this concept?  But examine the slogan closer and its meaning begins to fragment.  If we have to make time for life, are we not living the rest of the time?

Armitron watch ad: Girl makes snow angels.

Cultural values, like idiomatic expressions, go largely unexamined.  Social mobility via work reflects much of the American experience, but it is not impervious to misapplication.  Without other passions and understandings, earning a paycheck can become an obsession.  Our role in the workforce can seize the keys to our identity and leave us spiritually destitute.  Before long, we find ourselves at social gatherings where every stranger asks, “What do you do?”

The saying time is money, taken as an absolute truth, keeps us striving toward a better future indefinitely.  Our breaks from the grind become too precious—warped as we feel the need to document every detail.  Notice that Armitron provides a tagline and timestamp for their depiction of leisure.  A girl makes snow angels at 2:48pm, a moment that coincides with the hands on the watch being advertised.

In contrast to this triviality, the unembellished image of the girl syncs up nicely with the deeper concept of life as play and ritual.  And the watch itself, by no means extraordinary, does include a branding twist that offers a refreshing take on telling time.  The word Now adorns the face, reminding the wearer of a consciousness so often lost in our pursuit of happiness, success, or whatever else we designate as our redeemer in the future.


Armitron watch ad: Girl makes snow angels.
Make Time for Snow Angels

Author: Todd Garlington

Urban spectator, Inner space cadet

3 thoughts

  1. What is further interesting about the watch photograph is that it breaks from the tradition of displaying the hands pointing to the 10 and the 2 (the smile configuration). Also, the Armitron corporate story and its founder is noteworthy. Eugen Gluck was a Holocaust survivor and philanthropist. I am fond of the brand.

  2. You are absolutely right.
    A slogan that says “make time for life” does immediately beg the question…when you aren’t making time for life, what is happening? Are you some sort of zombie? A dead thing that thoughtlessly uses up time without noticing?
    Maybe. In a way.
    It would have been too long and complicated for the slogan to say: “make some time for the things you want to do (instead of spending all of your time on what you think you have to do).”
    I think that is the underlying meaning of the slogan, even though it doesn’t actually have the time (word limitation) to say that.

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