Option Paralysis

The problem began when I decided to reward myself for some major accomplishments. A new wristwatch seemed the thing to fill the bill. It’s been quite awhile since I last bought a nicer watch. I cannot justify nor afford a luxury piece like a Rolex or Omega, a “mid-range” watch is something that will fit into my budget. The goal is to obtain a fairly nice watch but not to make an impulse purchase.

Next, I subscribed to a few watch review channels on YouTube in order to research what kind of options there are in the market and which watch might be best. Some of these people own dozens of high-end and mid-range watches so they should know, right? Soon, I began searching the Web for watches the reviewers recommended. That’s when I discovered there are several types of watches.

Mechanical watches that require hand-winding, automatic mechanical watches that utilize the wearer’s arm motion to move a rotor. There are automatic mechanical watches that are also hand windable and some that are “hackable”–meaning the seconds hand stops when the crown is pulled out to the last position. There is a breathtaking variety of variations and prices of mechanical watches.

Then there are the familiar quartz based watches. These range from the cheap “no-name” $10 watches to the very costly high-end quartz watches with fancy Swiss-made electronic movements. Within the quartz range are watches that require battery changes when the batteries die; kinetic watches that have a miniature generator powered by a rotor that is similar to a mechanical watch’s automatic movement; then there are watches with small solar panels that recharge a battery with light.

To further complicate matters, there are quartz-based watches that synchronize with official time radio stations like WWVB so the watch will always be accurate. There are some watches with GPS functions. Some watches have sensors for heart-rate and temperature for athletes. There are some that monitor barometric pressure. The newest watch types link with an app for mobile phones to monitor everything including email and if you misplaced your phone. I’m sure there are other types of watches for sale, as well.

To complicate matters much more, there are at least 200 brands of watches. These watches come from Europe, Japan, and China. It seems like every week, I find out about a completely new “micro-brand” or a brand started up through a kick-starter program by out of touch entrepreneurs who think it’s a great idea to begin selling their brands of watches in an already over-saturated retail market.

On top of these. there is the category of dive-watches. There is an endless supply of these things that resemble the Rolex “Submariner”. They come in mechanical and quartz with nearly any color combination. Various metals are used to construct their cases. These can be had at every price range.

When and if you finally decide which watch works for you, there is the matter of choosing whether it should attach to your wrist with a bracelet or a strap. Watches come from the factories with either or both options. If those choices are unsatisfactory, you can explore after-market strap options–another over-saturated category. There are hundreds made from various materials. They come in different patterns, colors, and sizes. One subcategory, NATO straps, are also found in abundance.

The situation I find myself in is the “First-World problem” called¬†option paralysis. It’s easily defined as “The tendency, when given unlimited choices, to make none. In my case, all of the watches I see are extremely attractive and have very fetching features and qualities. To venture into the category of nicer watches has been to stumble into the black-hole of indecision.

As a temporary solution, I’ve put off buying a watch indefinitely. I’ve also unsubscribed from most of the watch review channels on YouTube. The process of sorting out the astonishing variety of watches and accessories has led not only to option paralysis, it has fostered option burn-out. At any rate, I already have a few budget-priced watches that more than fill my needs.

I’ve decided instead, to reward my earlier accomplishments with some simple peace and quiet.


The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes journalist Susan Orlean. “Unlimited choice is paralyzing. The Internet has made this form of paralysis due to option overload a standard feature of comfortable modern life.”

About swabby429

An eclectic guy who likes to observe the world around him and comment about those observations.
This entry was posted in cultural highlights, Gadgets, Health, Meanderings and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Option Paralysis

  1. Yes! I’ve been through this. I still use $20 Casio watch with a velcro strap. The best watch strap they ever invented!

  2. Olavi says:

    This is one of those things that too much of it becomes a disadvantage.

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