Why you need a watch and alarm clock at Black Rock City
I’m not that gadgety of a person, and I’ve already seen what playa dust did to the interior of a camera I brought one year, so I aim to bring as little as possible in the electronics realm. If you have mission-critical gadgets you bring, add them in the comments section, please.
That said, I recommend that you…
Bring an alarm clock
I often need an alarm clock to wake for morning shifts for my camp. You might have a 2 a.m. volunteer shift at Center Camp and want to get some zzzs in before your shift. Or maybe you want to wake up and see a sunrise or two (highly recommended). An alarm clock is a great solution here, and it keeps your delicate and more expensive phone electronics away from the corrosive playa dust (and not using your phone as a watch can give you the space to break free of checking your phone every 15 minutes).
…and a cheap watch
Many people who never wear a watch in the default world wear one at Burning Man, especially if they’ve signed up for shifts at their camp or some other volunteer activity. You won’t have your phone on you (because you’re relaxing into the digital silence of not using your phone, right?), and there is a high likelihood you’ll either need or want to know the time.
Maybe you need to watch the time so you can head back to your camp and start prepping for a group dinner you’ve volunteered to lead. Or maybe there is a workshop or event you want to keep on your radar and are hoping to catch. Or maybe you absolutely need to get ice today from Arctica before it closes for the evening. (FWIW, volunteering at Arctica can be a lot of fun! And you get to spend several hours in a rather chilled space.)
In my first year, my friend who was leading our camp said to me, with utter seriousness, that he has one rule for himself at Burning Man and that is that he makes no plans to meet up with anyone, anywhere, at any time, for any reason. His thoughts were that such plans can stop the flow and the immediacy of your experience. I agree.
However, a shift responsibility is different. Be on time for those. If you need a watch to do so, bring one.
The playa dust eats electronics for lunch. Be careful what you bring.