(writing)culture other worlds

Analog vs. Digital

The antithesis have always fascinated me. Ferrari vs. Porsche or Apple vs. Microsoft. More recently Android vs. iOS. And I’m sure that everyone of us has its personal antithesis that she or he has grown up with. One in particular that has intrigued us growing up in the ‘90’s is analog vs. digital. Also in the world of writing instruments.

September 10th 2014. It’s a Wednesday night for us in Switzerland and on that day, Apple presented to the world what turned out to be the most successful watch in history. Not the iWatch, as we all thought, but Tim Cook presented the Apple Watch. Available from April 24th 2015 the device has been almost ignored by some watch magazines at the time and while the digital community was predicting very hard times for the “traditional” watch manufacturer, the older industry was more on the observer side and with a lot of skepticism was checking out the developments on the market. Fact is, that as often in life, the truth would have been somewhere in the middle.

In fact, the Apple Watch has set certainly a new standard when we think to a watch but has it really put the “old” watch world in a deep crisis as many thought? Or has it just filled a gap in our everyday life? As we were able to see by the sales figures of the watch industry in the years after the introduction of the Apple Watch, the main watch manufacturer have been able to set a revenue record after the other and there was no trace of a cannibalization of the market by smartwatches. Today, 5 years later, we evidentially have to admit, that the smartwatch has taken a not negligible role in the life of millions of people. It has set even new trends like the “double wristing”, a phenomenon that is polarizing among watch enthusiast. In particular this last one, the “double wristing” is, from my point of view, perfectly summarizing what the outcome of this long journey will be. We “need” both! What do we mean with that? That both watches are simply fulfilling different needs and requirements. While the smartwatch is more and more getting important as a wearable health device or as a workout companion for music, heartbeat, walked distance and many other functions that we can’t list here. But it will never ever replace your Patek, Rolex, Omega or any other mechanical watch that you will wear for a wedding or an anniversary of a formal business event.

Growth of awareness

Talking about the “noise” that the Apple Watch has created around the wrist in general and observing the teenagers around my son, Apple has done a favor to the whole watch industry. The awareness about watches has grown in general because suddenly, the boys and girls have realized, that a nice mechanic watch remains a beautiful piece of art. While a smart watch remains a useful and, probably in the coming years, unavoidable device for our health. And people start again to be more concious about what the wear and what the want to wear on their wrists.

I think, you can imagine where we want to go with this, right? Apple launched in 2017 the Apple Pencil as a tool to write, finally properly, on a screen. You can do even more, sketch, write and draw almost as you do on paper. But here is exactly the parallelism we want to catch here. Interestingly, we already had tons of keyboards that were able to help us taking notes on a tablet quickly and already in a format that would be easy to share and to store. But even if this was the case, Apple felt the necessity to launch a revolutionary product named after a tool that humanity is using since centuries. And we are not trying to be sarcastic here, absolutely not. Quite the opposite. Tools like the Apple Pencil are clearly showing, that there are things in live that must be done with a “writing instrument”, independently if it is digital or analog. Question of the day: Will the digital writing instruments replace the analogic ones? Rest assured, this will never happen, we all know that. It will never happen because, as we have seen in the case of the smartwatch, a digital device is fulfilling other requirements than a traditional writing instrument. In fact, an Apple Pencil is an incredibly useful device in certain circumstances and increases your efficiency. But there will be occasions where a nice fountain pen, a sophisticated pencil or a precious ballpoint pen is simply the better choice and will leave a more appropriate impression on your colleagues, managers and friends.

Take the chance

As well here in fact, being an enthusiastic user of classic fountain pens and notebooks, I often get positive comments by others about the writing instruments I use in meetings and it becomes more and more a topic of conversation with younger people, aiming to get more out of their writing instruments. I think we also agree on the fact that a well written card or a hand written invitation will never be replaced by an e-mail. The consciousness that someone took the time to write a few lines just for us by hand fills us with gratitude and these letters are often stored for decades by the receipents.

Happy to hear your comments on this debated topic since I’m sure that other points of view but what I’m absolutely sure about is, that the digitalization in general can’t be stopped, and this is obvious. But I’m also more than sure, that every new trend hides many chances. It’s on us to catch them. Every day.

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