NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- What happened to the art of telling time?
Have you noticed? Everything in this noisy digital age seems to tell time: the phone. The car. The stove. Each proffers up a cheesy, numeric rubric that does nothing but cheapen the seconds it counts. But even these time-worn eyes are seeing a glimmer of hope for time staging a comeback. Better watches, mostly with analog faces and old-school mechanical movements, are finding new customers. According to the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry, last year broke records for watch exports. "Leaving aside 2010, which followed a major downturn," said the report, "growth surpassed anything seen in the past 20 years." Which makes this holiday season the perfect time to celebrate the return of watches. So I offer my top timepieces for 2012. Put any of these on your wrist, or on the wrist of those you love, and you will give the greatest gift of all: not merely telling time, but exquisitely keeping it: