I know it is permissible to wear a watch on Shabbat, and I have already perused this question about the particulars of what kinds of watch features are and are not permitted (ignoring the issue of carrying a watch outside an eruv). There’s also interesting halacha about how a watch’s battery is charged. But it seems to me that there’s a more subtle question: If one has the option, are there spiritual reasons it is preferable not to wear a watch on Shabbat?

Shabbat is “a palace in time”, as Rav Heschel said. It’s holy time that’s separated from the rest of the week, and we are meant to linger in it, not to rush it, not to think about what we need to do when it’s over. Of course, there are plenty of good reasons to care about time on Shabbat — timing of services, of gatherings with friends and family, etc. But what if one is blessed with a Shabbat where one is free of all such concerns and can just rely on the sun and stars to tell the appointed times? In that case, doesn’t it seem like one’s Shabbat consciousness would be “higher” without a watch on to remind one of “chol time”?

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    I once heard R Aharon Lichtenstein didn't wear a watch on Shabbat for roughly this reason. It was definitely not from a first-hand source, though, fwiw. – Double AA Dec 4 '15 at 16:09
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    @ablaze Interestingly, it seems relevant in a weird way...I always learned that women's watches, to be worn outside the eiruv, must be decorative enough that one wears them (during the week) even when they are not working. Although in theory this has to do with the prohibition on carrying, it also suggests in passing an idea that a watch cannot exist /qua/ watch on Shabbos. – SAH Dec 4 '15 at 16:21

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