Now I get it. After reading Gene Weingarten's bombardment of the president's plastic (ugh!) digital (how could he!) Timex {Style, March 7}, I realize that the Style section has a special mission -- to instruct readers about the finest things they do not possess or adequately appreciate. In this case, the lesson is on analog wristwatches "as thin as a Necco wafer" with "gears the size of a snowflake," whose lovely faces marry "symmetry and function and civility." In this edu- cational purpose, the Style section collaborates with Sunday's Magazine section, which introduces us to languid (and civil) $450 ladies' blouses and $1,100 pants.

Tony Kornheiser's column, which usually appears in the space where Weingarten held class, also takes shots at people who need to have their tastes upgraded. But Weingarten is blunt and does not let incessant jokes distract us from his purpose. His audi- ence will chuckle knowingly at the wonk from Arkansas, and the rest of us will have the opportunity to overhear the ridicule and learn from it.

-- Steve Behrens

Nothing makes me more confident than seeing our nerdy president sporting a Timex Ironman Triathalon. I've tried digital and analog watches, and I'm never going back to those old round things. Happily, Bill Clinton agrees with me and my likes, and with any hope this will not become another broccoli crisis. Gene Weingarten is, of course, behind the times. Remember, it's time for a change.

In these times of increased productivity, it is preposterous to not make use of the technological marvel originally developed in the United States (now mostly produced elsewhere). How else can one store all one's phone numbers, figure how long one has held up non-jogging traffic, get re- minders to meet aides and families, accurately time the wash cycle for weekly laundry (maybe the president doesn't do that, but I do)? The digital watches in the stores now can tell the temperature, altitude and the time in Moscow -- or Little Rock -- as well as count down the days to Clinton's first hundred. Specialized watches could also keep the president informed of his pulse rate, the unemployment rate, the Dow Jones average and all the daily indices. All for a fraction of the cost of a flat object that probably doesn't even have numbers on it. When asked for the time, instead of squinting at the dial for 10 seconds, Clinton can say in monotone: "At the tone, it will be eleven twenty-two and thirty-eight seconds." And he'll be able to calculate the deficit with a few deft taps on his wrist. I hope Al Gore wears a digital too.

Of course, the watch won't get you there on time, but if there's fuzzy logic, there's got to be fuzzy time too.

-- Anton Quist

It seems that a number of reporters have a lot of time on their hands, given the two-page article on March 7 about what type of watch the president wears, who makes it and how your paper feels it's unpresidential and cheap.

Is this just the start of a possible series in the the items the First Family wears? What's next, cuff links or shoes? Get off the guy's back for a few months and give him a chance to get settled in his new home and job.

To set the record straight: During his meeting with British Prime Minister John Major, the president wore a gold watch with a leather band, suitable for visits of heads of state and other formal events. He also was sporting a new presidential gold cuff-link design. We'll wait to read about that in the next in the series Fashion Faux Pas of the First Family.

-- Greg E. Mathieson