Watch Insider: A Week With the Apple Watch


By now, you’ve probably read a lot about the Apple Watch, and might even be thinking of purchasing one to add to your collection. If you’re looking for a little more info on what it’s like to wear an Apple Watch, the Watch Insider family has you covered! In this article from Watch-Insider.com, published shortly after Baselworld 2015, guest contributor Bani McSpedden goes in-depth on life with the Apple Watch on the wrist. McSpedden, the watch editor of the Australian Financial Review and watch-next.com, was one of the only traditional watch journalists invited to Apple headquarters in Silicon Valley for a briefing on the Apple Watch and the opportunity to experience it before its release. See below for McSpedden’s full report.

Keeping a watch on Apple…

With deliveries of the long awaited Apple Watch commencing in many countries this month, no one will be watching more closely than traditional watch brands.

This was flagged at the recent Baselworld watch fair, where despite not being on show, Apple’s newcomer was a hot topic, with opinions divided on the impact it will have on an industry dominated by the Swiss, and to a lesser extent the Japanese.

The head of LVMH watch brands Hublot, TAG Heuer and Zenith, Jean-Claude Biver, told attendees Apple was unlike previous competitors in that “they make as much in a month as the whole Swiss industry makes in a year.”

On record as saying he had initially been disappointed by the shape of the Apple Watch, he told me before the Basel fair that “the more I see the watch, the more I learn about it, the more I believe in its success.”

Apple Watch Bani mesh

Apple is a threat for another reason – it’s a “cool” brand, the likes of which the Swiss have not come up against before.

In their favour, the Swiss, and at the high end Japan’s Grand Seiko, produce hand-crafted timepieces of such quality and complexity that they should continue to win hands-down when it comes to character and cachet. They are also largely obsolescence-proof.

Biver feels that the real threat is to lower-end timepieces, not mechanical masterpieces, but a question remains: what if young people in particular become accustomed to having something more multi-functional on the wrist than a simple time-teller? After spending a week with a pre-release watch my conclusion is that this could be a distinct possibility.

Apple Watch Bani wrist shot 1
The Apple Watch. All pictures by Bani McSpedden.

The Apple Watch at a glance…

Ordering

You can order the Apple Watch now, with delivery commencing two weeks later.

Sizing/Pricing

The watch comes in two sizes, 38mm and 42mm measured lengthways, with prices for the aluminum sport models $499 and $579; the steel models $799 and $879 and the gold cased ‘Edition’ models $14,000 and $17,000.

Extra straps

Silicon Sport: $79

Milanese chain-link and premium leather: $229

Magnetic buckle strap $379

Metal link strap $679

 

Apple Watch Bani sport

No more running late

The Apple Watch is incredibly accurate, keeping time within 50 milliseconds of the Coordinated Universal Time, and automatically recalibrating as you move from one time zone to another. So no, you won’t have to check it every other day.

More than the time

Apple offers a vast array of functions and apps in addition to the time, ranging from messaging to music, fitness to fun. These are accessed three ways: via the touch-sensitive face of the watch; by operating a Digtital Crown; and by pressing an elongated button below the crown.

Swipe for a quick glance

A simple swipe up from the watch face reveals ‘Glances’ that give you a thumbnail of various items ranging from the weather to your calendar or your location on a map. You can either swipe through different Glances, or tap on one to go to its app for deeper details.

Apple Watch Bani wrist shot 2

Crowning feature

The Digital Crown is Apple’s new input device, think of it as a mouse for your watch. By rotating it you can navigate without obstructing the screen view, using it for fine adjustments, and custom­izing the look of the watch. Pressing it once brings you back to the home screen, pressing and holding it gives access to resident voice commander Siri.

May the Force be with you

The Apple Watch boasts something called Touch Force, meaning its glass senses force, with a tap or a stronger press triggering access to a range of specific controls such as bringing up an action menu in Messages or a mode for selecting different watch faces.

Fantastic Taptic

Traditional watches often have exotic inclusions like tourbillons to aid accuracy; the Apple has a Taptic Engine that powers a new system of alerts, whereby receiving a text message or map directions you’re notified with a gentle tap on the wrist and can even be used to transmit your heartbeat.

A timeless face

You can personalize your Apple Watch, choosing from traditional analog (hour and minute hands) faces or your own selection of digital displays. In addition you can opt for animated graphics ranging from butterflies to flowers or Mickey Mouse. The options are almost endless.

Apple Watch Bani multi shot 1

More than the usual complications

Like a traditional watch you can choose to display extra functions such as world time, solar time, moon-phases, timers and alarms, with the addition of sunrise and sunset indicators, stock quotes, calendar events, and your daily activity tracker. If you want more detail, tapping the complication opens the corresponding app.

Apple Watch Bani black

You’ve got mail – nudge.

Notifications, mail, messages – or anything that appears on an iPhone Lock screen can be configured to appear on Apple Watch with a gentle tap to let you know its arrived. Notifications you don’t want to view immediately are placed into your Notification Center and a red dot appears at the top of the watch face to let you know it’s waiting for you. Swiping down from the watch face gives you access to them. Replying to a message you can choose a preset reply (based on the context of the message,) dictate a response and send it as a text or audio file, or even send an animated emoji.

Apple Watch Bani wrist shot 3

The ‘Dick Tracy’ feature

With the Apple Watch you can make phone calls right from your wrist in three ways: by pressing the elongated button below the Digital Crown to access Friends; by tapping on the Phone app on the Home screen; or by using use Siri to call some­one. (Just lift the watch and say “Hey Siri, call xxx.”) You can answer calls on the watch or continue longer calls on your iPhone. To decline the call and send it straight to voicemail you simply cover the watch with your hand.

Thinking of you…

You access family, friends, favorites using the side button below the Digital Crown. Here you can message, call, or use Digital Touch to communicate ‘in fun and spontaneous ways’ by sending a finger-painted sketch, a tap (you can customize taps for different people) or even send your current heartbeat to a fellow Apple Watch owner. (Simply press two fingers on the display, and the watch’s built-in heart rate sensor does the rest.)

Apple Watch Bani multi shot 2

Where am I?

You can see where you are, what’s around you, and how to get somewhere three ways: by launching Maps from the Map Glance, by asking Siri for directions, or from the Home screen. The Digital Crown lets you zoom in and the best route is suggested by visuals and taps. You can switch between Walking or Driving view, drop a pin on a location, or hold the Digital Crown to ask Siri for more help.

Not camera shy

Of interest to the selfie-set will be the Apple Watch’s Camera Remote function that automatically opens the camera on your iPhone. You touch to focus using live preview, then set the timer or simply shoot.

The watch can store up to 500 photos (downloaded via the iPhone) which you swipe to browse, or use the Digital Crown to zoom in on.

Even more remote possibilities

You can control Apple TV or your iTunes library with the watch’s Remote app. which automatically finds signed-in devices or lets you use a PIN to pair.

Learn about watching your health with the Apple Watch on the next page.

15 Responses to “Watch Insider: A Week With the Apple Watch”

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  1. I love gadgets, and am interested in the various Android watches. But I like to rotate my watches every day and in order for the smart watch to make sense, you have to wear it every day. Hence, I can’t say I’ll be getting one, even though they are cool little gadgets.

    I’m sure they will sell a bunch of them, but I can’t see them displacing mechanical watches. I wear a mechanical watch for the enjoyment of the old tech.

    Reply
  2. The Apple watch (or other smart watches) is not a threat to the mechanical watch at all.
    The Swiss high end brands need not worry.

    The mechanical watch of today is high-mech. They are so well-finished, often with see-through casebacks, have superb dials, etc.

    As far as I am concerned, all that this new technology does is enslave us more and more.

    A mechanical watch lives on its own. It doesn’t need a battery, it doesn’t need to be charged, it doesn’t need to connect to anything, except your eyes. And oh yeah, it tells time, often in a very mannered, refined way.

    It exudes calm and is the exact opposite of the silly rat race most of us have become caught up in.

    Do you think that the existence of an Apple watch will make people who would like to buy, let’s say an Omega or a Rolex, change their minds? I guess not.

    And oh, lest I forget, I am not into square or angular shaped watches. A circle is perfect infinity or infinite perfection.

    Reply
  3. Okay, plenty of people will buy this watch . . . but plenty of people (including young ones) are wealthy, and they will not be satisfied simply with an electronic marvel. They will have money to burn, and if they like watches, the next step will be mechanical . . . Grand Seiko (my favorite) or any number of Swiss brands. The Apple Watch will in NO WAY destroy the market for high-end mechanical watches, which I consider to be the marvels of the modern age!

    Reply
  4. This a excellent writeup on the features of the watch. I’ve a number of nice watches, then a couple of years ago, I went crazy and collected a number of pocket watches, especially vintage railroad pocket watches. So I didn’t think adding the Apple Watch wouldn’t be a problem.

    I love the extension of my phone features on my wrist. I could leave my iPhone charging and having it stored where I can get a phone signal at my desk; but still can get my important text or phone calls on my wrist. I also like the fitness features. I can’t wait for the next OS for the watch, without running apps natively, the third party apps are almost useless.

    Now I’m missing my nice wrist watches, especially coming back from Switzerland; I was window shopping there. Unfortunately, i won’t wear two watches. The fitness is easily solved by getting a Fitbit, but the messaging/phone calls can not. The past weeks, I’m missing days of fitness data; and such, I started paying less attention to the fitness and my health.

    (BTW, I was traveling internationally with the Apple Watch without the iPhone; I was not able to change the time zone on the watch. I had to use the multiple time zones I set up prior to leaving. Without changing the timezone, I have to be careful to set the time for the alarm clock carefully.)

    Reply
  5. At the end of the day, this is not a timepiece. Rather, it’s a disposable gadget that accompanies an iPhone. There’s no beauty of craftsmanship to be found in a boring, smooth case. There’s no fine detail derived from a rose engine delicately engraving a dial. There’s no satisfying ticking from a precision movement beating at 21,600 vibrations/hour. No, this is an electronic toy pretending to be a serious timepiece. The adults will continue to wear real timepieces, the Apple fanboyz will wear the pale imitation….

    Reply
      • Olda Batt

        Most children lust for new toys which they soon abandon once the novelty wears off. Meanwhile look around you and see what the adults have on their wrist. Now, your sandbox beckons.

        Reply
  6. The Apple-watch- like watches will win. The arguments against it are similar to the arguments against the digital cameras in the dying days of the 35mm film cameras. Large industries will either adapt or die.

    Reply
    • Steve

      The arguments are not similar at all. Mechanical watches are works of art. The least expensive Apple watches are ugly. The price needs to come down by well more than 50% before I put such an ugly thing on my wrist. When the prices on the less ugly ones comes down by at least 50%, I will think about getting one.

      Reply
  7. Robert Follis

    Hi all

    As the owner of various Pateks, Vintage Rolexes, far too many other watches and now an Apple Watch Stainless Steel on a Milanese bracelet, I can definitely say that apart from the odd special occasion, my old Swiss companions will be up for auction, apart from maybe two or three old friends.

    The Apple ‘Watch’ is just far too useful on daily basis to leave at home and remember this is only Gen 1! There are already 3000 apps to choose from and almost every key app on my iPhone now has a Watch companion. The Apple will get more indispensable not less!

    I have also ordered a Space Black Sport and a brown leather ‘Modern Buckle’ strap as well. This will give me a ‘Watch’ wardrobe just as stylish as any I currently possess.

    I think the Swiss houses are being far too complacent in the face of the paradigm shift!

    Cheers Robert

    Reply
    • I don’t know your watch collection, but I wouldn’t get ride of the Pateks. I think quartz watches are going to be dead once smart watches becomes a commodity like Android smartphones. Look at how cheap and crappy quartz movement are and how cost effective and accurate they are. Still luxury mechanical watches sales has been growing. My problem is wanting the functional features of the Apple Watch and still wear the nice watch (like jewelry.)

      Reply
  8. Pedro Maiz

    Is this the end of mechanical pieces? Probably and more so if it would measure my blood/sugar levels one day. The watch will keep evolving its apps., mechanical pieces can’t beyond what they do now.

    Reply
  9. ” first thing I can tell you is that it’s quite an addictive little device.”

    Yes, this my experience, too. Any of these smartwatches are addictive in use. I had the SonyEricsson MBW-150 back in 2009. A very similar experience, although more limited.

    “I found I was able to respond to three messages during one meeting without anyone in the room noticing. Brilliant.”

    This effect probably will become less pronounced the more popular the watch becomes. When it’s well known a lot of people will notice this type of usage, and hence the stealth function will lose its power.

    Reply
  10. ” first thing I can tell you is that it’s quite an addictive little device.”

    Yes, this my experience, too. Any of these smartwatches are addictive in use. I had the SonyEricsson MBW-150 back in 2009. A very similar experience.

    “I found I was able to respond to three messages during one meeting without anyone in the room noticing. Brilliant.”

    This effect probably will become less pronounced the more popular the watch becomes. When it’s well known a lot of people will notice this type of usage, and hence the stealth function will lose its power.

    Reply
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