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The underwater people are humanoid beings that live underwater. In place of arms they have flippers: These flippers vary in shape from more humanoid to closer to that of a penguin or whale. All of them have hands at the end of the flipper. Their neck has a similar range of motion to humans. Their torso is somewhere between humanoid and the torpedo shapes seen in free-swimming animals, and they typically wear clothing. This clothing rarely has pockets and they do not carry bags.

Given this, how would the underwater people keep their watches on them? Ideally the watch should be visible without removing it from anything, and if it is possible they shouldn't need to touch the watch to see it. They shouldn't have anything extra besides the watch, and a strap for the watch if needed.

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    $\begingroup$ I'd vote for wearing ring/finger watches, but more to the point, a hand is of little value without a wrist. It may be true that the flesh of the flipper extends to the sides of the hands, but that would inevitably prove detrimental as it would restrict the range of motion. Evolutionarily, beings with flipper flesh detached from the hand would survive over those with the attachment and limited range of motion. That means your beings have wrists and can wear wrist watches. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Commented Jan 13, 2023 at 5:28
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    $\begingroup$ A better question would be where would those humanoids even get watches. Metalurgy is not really feasable underwater. And it's not exactly trivial to make waterproof watch. $\endgroup$
    – Negdo
    Commented Jan 13, 2023 at 12:59
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    $\begingroup$ Ignore the problem. Just assert that they do and get on with the story. $\endgroup$
    – RonJohn
    Commented Jan 13, 2023 at 17:45
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    $\begingroup$ "All of them have hands at the end of the flipper." this requires some evolutionary handwavium to explain, because hands are only useful for advanced work when you can see them. $\endgroup$
    – Goodies
    Commented Jan 14, 2023 at 11:46
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    $\begingroup$ @Joachim --- Flipperwavium. $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Commented Jan 16, 2023 at 4:42

7 Answers 7

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Nurse fob watches

Nurses are typically not allowed to wear anything on their wrists, hands and lower arms for infection control reasons. To calculate a patient's heartrate, however, they need a timepiece; typically this is an externally worn fob watch attached to the front of their uniform and designed with the face upside down to be read by looking down. You can lift it to get a better view (which your creatures could easily do with their flippers) but you can also quickly glance down at your chest without really needing to touch anything.

Nurse wearing a fob watch and close up of the watch by itself

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Adhesive Patches

Wrist watches are soooo human. No, the fashionable swuman simply applies a peel-n-stick gel adhesive patch, such as you might expect to be treated to during the administration of an EKG or when wearing some kind of medical device on the skin.

One side sticks to the watch, one side sticks to the skin. They last quite a while, even in wet situations. Swumans get them in different colours, shapes and patterns because they are disposable and aren't meant for long term wear.

Medtronic

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  • $\begingroup$ I think the above patches are a very antropomorph solution. You'd need transparent patches, or attach the watch on top of the patch. And there are visibility issues. Your watch can't be tilted or turned. These beings have flippers, not arms. It depends on the shape of the animal. We don't know what it looks like, but on e.g. a dolphin there wouldn't be a suitable spot except its nose, to put the patch. Also I wonder, how could hands on flippers apply the patch firmly to the skin ? $\endgroup$
    – Goodies
    Commented Jan 15, 2023 at 9:45
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    $\begingroup$ @Goodies --- Well, the people in question are "humanoid", so..... $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Commented Jan 16, 2023 at 4:41
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Use Hearing Instead of Eyesight

A watch on a flipper would probably interfere with swimming. It might also be hard to see.

I'd go outside the box and come up with a different way to tell the time. Sound travels really well underwater, and dolphins and other sea mammals use clicks and buzzes for echolocation and communication. Why not have a watch that uses either haptic feedback or audible clicks to tell the time? Mount it anywhere the creature can touch to activate. Make it part of their jewelry to have a watch on their chest where they dan tap it with a flipper. When they do, they get a burst of clicks that identifies the time.

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    $\begingroup$ Interesting answer +1, tip: "use hearing instead of eyesight" could be a good title attrackting votes. $\endgroup$
    – Goodies
    Commented Jan 14, 2023 at 11:36
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks! I've done that. $\endgroup$
    – Dan Hanson
    Commented Jan 14, 2023 at 21:11
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    $\begingroup$ Another idea, but no answer: the use of sound you propose could also enable these "flippered beings" to put a clock chiming every half hour, somewhere in a central place, like human's church clocks. Under water, the chimes would be audible over very long distances. Watches would not be needed at all. $\endgroup$
    – Goodies
    Commented Jan 15, 2023 at 9:25
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I wear two kind of watches, one is already mentioned in an answer, a pin-on fob, the other is a finger ring. Depending on the way their hands are formed, rings can be worn and make great places to have a watch.
An other alternative to a pin on fob watch is the traditional early style fob watch, kept in a pocket, on a piece of string/chain.

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I suppose that depends on their flipper anatomy. I'm no professional, but assuming they have hands, seeing as they seem to be advanced enough to have clothes and functional watches, the watch would likely mount around the wrist area with the hand to stop it from sliding off when it is properly attached. If they don't have hands for some reason, it could be harnessed around their body for stability, or simply lack a band and be a stick-on where it attaches adhesively.

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Maybe not the best answer, but my first thought was as a piercing much like an earring or tracker tag. Could be a great "Coming of Age" gift much like earrings are with young girls in America. enter image description here

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You did not specify how technologically advanced this species is. They wear clothing under water, which means that is produced somehow. Presumably underwater as having things made on the surface for import seems like it would be world breaking. Hands, with watches, but no mention of wrists or what exactly those hands are and how they function. It seems like the watch is the least of your worries so far.

So off the bat we have some obvious hurdles that may demand more explanation than a watch. But let's suppose the under water peoples have managed to escalate the realms of their available technology to a point where we might as well be making up far out science fiction beyond the realms of plausibility in our own world. That much we can call fair game.

Why not use imposed gesture based holographics then? Who knows how they managed to isolate electronic tech under water safely, but let's suppose this tech has some kind of hermetical barrier that allows these beings to interface without the threat of obvious shortages and physics and chemistry based conflicts. Why not just have them turn their flippers inward and a holographic, gesture based watch appears before them? Who cares about the hows and whys of this anymore since we're already way off anything we might conceivably see on our own world?

Our own smart watches keep their screens off until we gesture already. This tech is low level by this point. So perhaps it is not beyond plausible that some being developed something like a photonic resonance that projects illumination from something more static, like a badge, that acts as the interpreter for all of the beings' computing needs. Think of it like a relay. Turn the flipper inward, think "time" and a watch appears over the hand-ish thing. Same for things like opening locks or whatever else is going on in your underwater realms. Centrally based, possibly non-submerged computers relay to the badges and project what they need to the user. Handwavium up the a** but you're going to need to adopt that as a necessity for anything from our world to exist in this one.

Officially, I always suggest people avoid over explanation. If you need a watch, just give them one. Like a barnacle based adhesive outer garment pseudo-pocket watch thing. If the watch is what flips your story from believable to unbelievable, then there are problems elsewhere already.

You might benefit from incorporating something along the lines of "alexa, what time is it" and just have a phantom voice answer in whatever means of communicating these beings use. That would at least be relatable.

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