Why you should restore the classic alarm clock

Written Jessica Bumpus, CNN

I restored the alarm. A mechanism that is overlooked in today’s technologically synchronized world where your phone does everything, it tells the time, it wakes you up, it is decentralized from the phone. That’s wonderful.

Why? Because before I brought the analog clock back into my bedroom, I averaged two hours and 56 minutes of screen time a week, and my phone told me every Monday, moments after the alarm went off.

And every morning when I first tried to hit snooze, I was faced with a barrage of notifications piling up one after the other like solitaire on the screen. My phone told me that last night my friends were chatting with 34+ Whatsapp messages; there would be Instagram alerts and dozens of emails from multiple accounts. The notifications filled me with dread and stress about the day ahead even before I drank my morning coffee.

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I didn’t realize it at the time, but my old analog watch—a compact travel model—was a low-profile luxury.

Its design would pale in comparison to the latest iPhones, but it did the job very well; its sharp and piercing screech effectively woke me up every morning. It’s fitting that it didn’t fill my mind with chatter, bad news and deadlines before the day started.

Changing habits

I switched from an alarm clock to my phone about 10 years ago after I told someone what I thought was a funny story about how my alarm went off in my suitcase one day while riding in the trunk of a taxi. I could restore it. The story has been confusing. Do you use a real alarm clock? they asked, as if it were a fax machine. “Why don’t you use the phone!” Oh, I thought. Why not me? At the time, I probably didn’t even know I could. But I succumbed to peer pressure and got rid of my old watch. And that’s when the luxury of waking up unannounced ended and the anguish of looking at them in the middle of the night when I was checking the time on my phone began.

“Reintroducing the alarm gives me time, space and separation that my phone didn’t have.”

As our cell phone usage continues to grow (a 2018 Deloitte report found that American smartphone users check their phones 14 billion times a day, up from 9 billion in the same 2016 report), health experts say that it has a negative impact. our morning classes.

“The first thing you do when you wake up is to ideally wake up and spend some time in your own mind before you get bombarded with everything else that’s going on in the world. Give yourself a chance to adjust to the waking world. said mental health and wellness coach Lily Silverton. “Historically, we have not been accustomed to having our attention distracted as much as it is today.”

Before alarm clocks, it was roosters, church bells, hammers (people who were paid to wake you up by tapping on a door or window with a long stick, which happened up until the 1970s in industrial Britain), and even our own bladders. which made us get out of bed. It is widely believed that watchmaker Levi Hutchins of Concord, New Hampshire invented one of the first alarm clocks in 1787. His design worked only once at 4 am, when he preferred to wake up. Little seems to be known about the details of the actual design, but he wrote: “The tricky part was the idea of ​​a clock that could sound the alarm, not the execution of the idea. sound at the appointed hour. Hutchins never patented or manufactured this watch.

Many years later, in 1874, French inventor Antoine Redier became the first to patent an adjustable mechanical alarm clock. And in 1876, Seth E. Thomas patented a small mechanical clockwork clock in the US, prompting major American watchmakers to start making small alarm clocks. German watchmakers are reported to have soon followed, and by the late 1800s the electric alarm clock was invented.

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Buying a watch

Today, alarm clocks come in a variety of designs. From the Panasonic RC-6025 alarm clock radio immortalized in the 1993 film Groundhog Day to more retro designs from classic brands like Roberts. A quick search on Etsy reveals new designs in the form of robots, owls, or even rabbits.

Elsewhere, more modern design includes the addition of colored night lights, projectors (to project the time onto the ceiling or wall! No thanks), speakers with USB ports, temperature and humidity controls, and even teen shakers.

Last year, the late Virgil Abloh’s label Off-White teamed up with Braun to release a pair of stylish limited edition alarm clocks. The orange and blue design is based on the classic BC02 alarm clock, strikingly simple and originally conceived by Dieter Rams and Dietrich Lubs in the 1980s. Fashion brand Paul Smith also released its version of the watch back in 2020.

All I needed was a simple alarm clock very similar to my original. And I bought one from a local home improvement store nearby for £8.50 (just over $10). The first night I used it, I felt strangely excited when I physically triggered the setting rather than swiping my finger across the screen. The next morning, in some kind of anti-climax, I woke up before the alarm. But I already felt that I had conquered the day, and was not chasing it.

According to Silverton, “technology exploits our psychological weaknesses.” And to be connected, she noted, is incredible, but at the same time terrible. “It’s about managing that and creating a routine that works for you.”

Which now I think I have. Re-introducing the alarm gives me time, space, and separation that my phone didn’t have. While my phone is still by my bed, the difference is that it’s not the first thing I reach for. My first comment of the day is no longer email blasphemy, and as my blood boils, I find myself carefully considering what I could have for breakfast. Which gave me a sense of control and calmness. Oddly enough, it made me feel younger – I guess because the experience is nostalgic, or perhaps because I sleep better. And what could be more luxurious than this?

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