Learn English – phrase for “I cast a glance” but as in an accident

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I want to say

"I accidentally cast a glance at my watch… shoot! It's 10:30"

except I don't want to use the word "accidentally" (or cast for that matter…). Is there a way to maybe combine them with a word that encompasses both, an unintentional seeing of the time?

Best Answer

My first thought was that you might glimpse your watch:

glimpse

VERB

[WITH OBJECT]

  1. See or perceive briefly or partially.

    ‘he glimpsed a figure standing in the shade’

(from the Oxford Dictionaries)

But then I felt that wasn't quite right. What you really did was catch sight of your watch:

catch (or get a) sight of

Glimpse for a moment; suddenly notice.

‘when she caught sight of him she smiled’

So in your sentence, it would be:

I caught sight of my watch... shoot! It's 10:30!

An anonymous user (thanks, whoever you are!) noticed that the Oxford Dictionaries' definition of glimpse as a noun offers yet another option via its sample sentence:

glimpse

NOUN

  1. A momentary or partial view.

    ‘she caught a glimpse of the ocean’

The anonymous user noted that

_this may arguably imply even less intent than to "catch sight," since the latter can sometimes apply to an object one is specifically seeking.-

So perhaps the best option would be:

I caught a glimpse of my watch... shoot! It's 10:30!

(I'm embarrassed that I didn't put the two together myself!)