I have a reputation in my family and at work as someone who likes everything new. I love the smell. I like the advancements in technology. I really like the perfection. Like it or not we are a consumer society and I am probably the worst example of it. In my defence however I do like to buy on quality and where possible longevity. I live by the motto buy once, buy well. But in our society that is becoming increasingly difficult or is it?
I was the lucky recipient of a very nice watch a number of years ago bought for me by my mother. Recently the date stopped ticking over at the correct time of the day, so I organised to take it into for a service. Well my ignorance was quickly corrected that this was no normal service, when I subsequently found out that Rolex do things slightly different. Firstly I would be without my watch for 8 weeks while they took the whole watch apart and piece by piece cleaned and replaced components. The found twenty or so imperfections with the watch, I only noticed one in relation to the date, and duly set about making it good as new. And when I say new, I don’t mean could pass as hardly worn or looks like new, I mean actually new. The watch on collection looked better, if that was possible, than when I first received it and well worth the significant service charge. And it got me thinking that I have managed in six years to get that new feeling twice from the same item and I am sure will do many more times in my lifetime. Why is this not possible with everything else we buy?
I appreciate the watch in question hasn’t changed much in design or function for hundreds of years however the premise that the quality of the original parts and build has meant that it isn’t something you want to throw away. Why for example when an Apple iPhone has remained the same shape and design for many incarnations has it not been possible to just upgrade the components rather than the whole phone? The software updates mean that I can now consider keeping the same phone for at least two years, something Nokia never managed with the older models, so it is only reasonable to consider the upgrades of the processor and memory could be done as well.
This doesn’t just relate Apple and their iPhone, but it is a good example of a quality product I enjoy owning, and surely is the future if we are going to stem our consumerism? I recently for example had my Dyson repaired, and only because the love of a good lady in my life did I persist in organising for an engineer to come out and fix it. Usually that would have meant searching for a replacement but in this case the engineer wasn’t just able to make it work again, but make it work better than before. The replacement part was actually redesigned from the original I had bought. Ideally they could have gone one step further and completely reconditioned it, but it still meant my cost was dramatically reduced and feel I have the benefits of a new machine.
Everything from white goods to cars could be designed in this way and while I appreciate cars sort of can have every component changed or upgraded, you don’t see the car return to the factory for a complete rebuild (unless it is a very bespoke manufacturer). This not only requires the mindset from the consumer but also the manufacturer. I understand for example that Apple switched back to glue for a lot of their components in the iPhone, not because of weight or complexity (as it made the product less green and more toxic), but to stamp out people trying to repair their phones.
I for one will continue to try and pick products I can keep refreshing, and hopefully I can break my new addiction.