Today I tried on the Apple Watch at my local Apple Store. I booked the appointment about two hours beforehand, which I was happy to find it so easy to get an appointment. I went to the store and was quickly greeted by friendly staff there to help me try on any Apple Watch they had available. I must say I was quite surprised to see the Apple Watch Eddition on display (not for try-on) in Richmond, VA of all places. It’s startling how two tiny little Apple Watches sitting in the display case are easily worth more than all the cars I own combined.
I don’t intend to go all Steven Hackett with my Apple Watch try-on experience, but I did want to jot down my thoughts and impressions of the Apple Watch. I went in thinking the Apple Watch I’m getting is the Sport in 42mm space gray aluminum with the black sport band and that’s the same idea I had when I left. The Apple Watch I want is the 42mm space black case with space black link bracelet, but the price makes it hard to justify, especially for the first generation.
The fluoroelastomer sport band is incredibly supple and luxurious. It was most definitely my favorite band. The clasp, while interesting, seems a bit tedious to take on and off. When it’s on, it’s on securely. Since it’s designed to be worn during periods of vigorous activity, this makes sense.
The other band I was most excited to experience firsthand was the modern buckle. I’m sad to say that while the buckle has a very precise, lightweight, and futuristic feel about it, the leather band itself feels sterile, hard, and unappealing. This was my biggest disappointment. I love the way the mechanism works but I don’t care for the materials and the way they look and feel.
Out of curiosity, I tried on the Milanese loop. That is also a band that is surprisingly different in person and I recommend trying it on and experiencing it firsthand before writing it off as something that is just not for you. It has a very snug fit, feels slightly flexible, not rigid, on the wrist, and absolutely does not snag on clothing or arm hair. The way the band latches magnetically is also quite pleasant and whimsical.
The band I was most excited to try out was the link bracelet. I’ve been reading the description of how it takes almost nine hours to make and consists of over 100 components ever since the Apple Watch was announced. My very first impression of it was it feels like a super lightweight, precision machined, space-age material. It has a futuristic precision and feel that is just incredible. The butterfly latch jumps open with a lively energy unlike any other link bracelet I’ve worn. I wish I could afford this band because it’s truly remarkable.
Aluminum vs. Stainless Steel
Another thing I really wanted to get out of my Apple Watch try-on session was a detailed look at the aluminum versus stainless steel. They are starkly different materials, both in look and feel. The aluminum has a pleasant friction to the surface and the space gray aluminum has a subdued matte finish. The stainless steel, on the other hand, feels oily smooth and the space black case reminds me of the hypnotic sheen of Darth Vader’s helmet. It is deep, ominous, and enthralling. To me, the space black stainless steel with the space black link bracelet is out of this world and I really wish that is the Apple Watch I could afford.
One last surprising difference between the Sport and Apple Watch models is the Ion-X glass and the sapphire crystal. The Apple Watch combined with the sapphire crystal really sparkles compared to the Sport with the Ion-X glass. That’s not to say that the Apple Watch overdoes the bling — in fact, it’s just the right amount of spectacle. The Sport looks very utilitarian but feels feather light and elegant, while the Apple Watch both looks and feels luxurious with a bit more substance to it.
The best part about the Apple Watch is that from the $349 Sport to the $10,000 Edition, you’re getting the exact same functionality. A similar watch from established luxury watchmakers would probably start at $40,000 or more. Apple has done an amazing job of bringing world class materials and design to the mass market.
How does it work?
I have no idea. The Apple Watches I tried on were running a non-interactive demo1 loop. I got to feel the taptic feedback (it’s perfect and you just have to experience it for yourself) but I have no idea what it will be like to actually use day-to-day. For a non-watch wearer like myself, it will be a capable wrist computer that allows new and exciting ways of communicating that also tells time. That’s enough for me.
I did spend some time with the functional displays of the Apple Watch, but my three-year-old daughter who was with me wanted to go ride the train, so I didn’t get to play with it very long (she was incredibly good during the try-on session so I can’t complain). But riding a miniature train around a shopping mall with my daughter is more fun anyway.↩