Watch Insider: A Week With the Apple Watch

Apple Watch Bani wrist shot 5

So, what’s my take on the Apple Watch?

I’ve been wearing the Apple Watch, polished steel version, since taking delivery of it at Apple headquarters in Silicon Valley on April 1 – after midday I should add – and the first thing I can tell you is that it’s quite an addictive little device.

Is it a replacement for a traditional watch? No!! It’s not so much a mesmerizing machine as a mighty module, and it doesn’t have the same character or charisma.

But it’s better than just being another way of telling the time, and in many respects is a real advance on the traditional watch.

How so? On the wrist you discover it’s beautifully crafted, incredibly tactile, and so comfortable to wear you forget it’s there.

Even little details like strap changes have been addressed in an ingenious way. The straps on Apple’s watch – in four styles from silicon to fine leather and metal versions – slide into the case rather than loop around a spring bar, making switching from one to another as simple as pressing a recessed button.

Why traditional watchmakers haven’t come up with something like this after all these years – well, a century – is a mystery.

But while the devil – or in this case the gods – might be in such detail, where the Apple Watch modifies old habits is its array of options and functions, not to mention fun stuff, that has you glancing at it for much more than just the time.

The options let you customize the watch face in an endless variety of ways – choose from analogue, digital or graphic displays, the later ranging from animated Mickey Mouse faces, to floral blooms.

I opted for a rather traditional looking black face, stripped down to just the 12, 3, 6, 9, numerals, with white hour and minutes hands and an orange seconds hand. Yes, you’ve a whole palette of colors at your disposal.

Apple Watch Bani multi shot 1After setting that up it was time to delve into the seemingly endless functions you now have on your forearm, ranging from fitness prompts and apps to weather forecasts, world time, stock prices, notifications, messages and maps.

You access these functions in three ways, through the watch’s touch-sensitive face, through a unique Digital Crown, and via an elongated button underneath the crown which provides a short-cut to calling or messaging contacts.

Did I find this a bit complicated? No, but it takes a little learning after which it becomes intuitive, just like using an iPhone, which of course is the base station you use to set up the watch, the mother-earth around which it orbits.

Which raises the question – why not simply use your iPhone?

At my briefing Apple’s designers told me that one of the aims of the watch, almost contrarily, was to free users from pulling out their phone so frequently, to make it easier to access things in an unobtrusive way.

I took this with a grain of salt until I began wearing the watch, which alerts you to the arrival of a message with a gentle tap on the wrist, and lets you reply with just a tap on a predetermined selection of responses, which are automatically tailored to reflect the gist of the message.

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

In a similar category – and I’m still not sure if this comes under the heading of ‘practical’ or just plain fun, where the Apple really differs from your usual watch, is you can talk to it – and it responds.

Call it the Dick Tracy feature, but thanks to Apple’s Siri voice command system you can ask the watch to instigate various tasks without touching a thing.

The watch comes alive with the instruction “Hey Siri” after which you can ask it call a contact, brief you on the weather, or guide you to a destination – did I mention the watch displays maps, and you can zoom in using the digital crown?

If this is all positive, I found a couple of things less so. While lifting the wrist automatically brings the dormant watch-face alive, there’s a short lag, say a second, which is a second longer than glancing at your standard watch.

Then, once there, that image seems to disappear rather too soon – watch folk find staring at a watch face a strangely calming experience, and for it to fade to black too quickly is a little disappointing.

But in short, my week with the Apple watch has been a week experiencing a different relationship with my forearm. Quite simply it’s not so much a watch, certainly not as we know it, as a new generation of wrist-wear.

Apple Watch Bani wrist shot 6

And what about my B.A. (“Before Apple”) timepieces? Will they now simply lie dormant in the sock drawer, ticking over in the hope they’ll be rediscovered or favoured now and then?

Truth is I’ve found that if I’m only wearing the Apple upstart I miss them, and obviously won’t stop wearing them – like a fountain pen versus a roller-ball, there’s something truly special about cogs and springs – and, something you never have to charge up. (Not that the Apple was such a chore here – mine lasted all day and evening, I simply charged it overnight alongside my phone.)

The good news is that, strangely, my left wrist seems the natural place for the Apple, whereas I normally wear my watch on the right wrist.

What this means is there’s really no contest at all – just a happy answer as to why God gave us two wrists.

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Apple Watch Bani wrist shot 4

This article was originally published on April 24, 2015, and has been updated.

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  1. Nathalia will

    Some Watch owners might be surprised to learn that this isn’t normal in the wearable world. Most Fitbits last at least three to four days on a charge and higher-end Garmin watches like the Forerunner 935 can last up to two weeks.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

  5. 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.)

  6. 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….

      • 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.

  7. 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.

    • 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.

  8. 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

    • 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.)

  9. 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.

  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, 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.

  11. ” 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.

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