A self-winding watch is simply a watch that winds itself. More specifically, it is a mechanical watch that uses the natural movement of your arm and gravity to power itself. No batteries or manual winding is necessary.

Typically, the watch will have a small weight attached to a gear. On my watch, the weight is a semi-circular disc attached to a central pivot. The weight will pivot with each small movement, winding a spring.

Of course, if you leave your watch off for long enough, it won't be able to wind itself, and it will stop. Most watches can store up enough energy for a day or two.

Until recently, I wore a watch, like any professional who has to push and pull what they're doing to make it fit in the time set. Piano lessons are just like anything else that must fit into thirty minutes.

In the first years, I would often look at the watch on my wrist, because it takes a lot of experience, a knack, to fitting the lesson in--and it would disturb my students. So it became a point of discussion.

First, I got to asking them not to look at theirs--as it upset the flow of my lesson--and of course they complained, saying I did, so why couldn't they. Rather then enter into that discussion, I started to compare watches.

It was a gift from my father, a rather fancy analog affaire--numbers and marks in a circle with a little hand, a big hand and a sweep second hand that described circles with speeds of twelve hours, sixty minutes and one minute--that kept excellent time without my having to wind it, a self-winding watch.

I go into such long-winded description because it was so different from the watches my students wear: digital things with fancy--though now common--LEDs, and all manner of other functions, including now games--and all battery powered.

This is the interesting point to me; I asked them if they knew how my watch was powered; I said I never wound it. Their first guess, of course, was battery; they were so perplexed when I said no. Their second was solar; and equally perplexed were they when that was also incorrect.

Then I told them it powered itself. They just couldn't believe that. I explained it was self-winding--that it converted the physical energy of my arm into mechanical energy. I pointed out to these, generally environmentally-conscious children that my watch was a truly sustainable technology; they, especially the older ones, have some inkling of sustainability, but none have ever heard of the technology of my watch.

As an observer of children for more than a decade, this just presents more proof to me of the commercial-industrial forces of colonization: the insight of King Gillette, the creator of the razor blade, that profit is not in the holder, but in what is held, and that must be replaced--for him the blade, for "watch" makers, the battery.

The problem with this commercial genius--and it is--there is no concern for what happens to the held things when they are used up. And they must be used up; if not then what would happen to the industry?

The market is not objective, on the contrary, it just chooses what will perpetuate it, regardless of consequences--much like the children I teach. At least these children have the guidance of their parents, and in a small way, of their teacher; they don't get to go their own way, regardless of the cost.

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