The Apple Watch is just a watch

A wonderful bouquet of flowers.John Lilly [via Medium]: It is, fundamentally and essentially, just this: a wristwatch. If you’re someone who wants to wear a watch, this is a great one in many ways. If you’re someone who doesn’t want to wear a watch, this will not make your life better. In 2015, wearing a watch is a bit of an affectation — you have to want to have a watch on, you certainly don’t need one — and that’s true for this, too.

I don’t own an Apple Watch at the moment, but I probably will at some point because I will eventually have to write an app for the platform. Since its release I’ve thought long and hard about how I think I’d use it. I’m not a notifications guy. I only have a few on my phone, and I’d have fewer on my wrist; phone calls and text messages, but only from a select few. The one real benefit for me, and no I’m not joking, is the hope I miss fewer phone calls or text messages from my wife. Everything else the watch has to offer is fluff. 

What about the fitness stuff? I’m not sure this will work for me. I wear my watch loose on my wrist. It binds up otherwise. I tend to buy watches with link bracelets and I’ve broken everyone I’ve ever had, I don’t know how, but it happens. Hopefully the flubber sport band will keep that from happening, but I guess we’ll find out some day.

I will, of course, buy the least expensive 42mm model. The guts of the low end and high end models are the same, and the low end model is still ridiculously expensive at $349.00. I had the tiniest of hopes these things would run around $149.00, but Apple doesn’t do that. They can charge a premium and get it, so they do. I’m hoping this generation will drop in price dramatically once gen two ships. Hopefully it will be able to run version two of the OS. Call me a tightwad if you’d like, it’s a fair assessment. I have a hard time spending that kind of money on myself. 

Customization is something I’m really interested in. The only thing I’m hoping for as a developer is a watch face SDK. Apps are fine, but I want to customize the watch face. I could imagine having my Dumbledore watch face and I like the idea of it (yes, I own one of these watches.) Beyond that I have an idea some really brilliant designers will have fun creating watch faces. I could also see a one off market for rich people. Hey, if you spent thousands of dollars on a watch, you might spend thousands on an original work of art for your device, right?

Something else I really want to do is anodize the aluminum case. I have a hankering for a bright orange case with a custom built leather strap. This is the customization I desire above all others. I’m not sure I’ll be able to pull this one off given the hostile to fixers build of the watch.

There is one thing about the watch that really disappoints. I had high hopes Apple would make a timeless classic, instead they opted for a throwaway commodity. When I read about the System on a Chip (scroll down to read about the S1) they had designed for the watch I had imagined the ability to open the case and swap out the system with a new generation. It would appear, based on the iFixit tear down that Apple sees this device as a throwaway gadget. That’s kind of sad. A timeless classic would have been so much nicer, especially for the versions that cost over a thousand bucks. Real watch makers build timeless pieces. Apple has added the commodity thinking we have in tech. Just throw it away and buy the new one. I’m as guilty of this line of thinking as the next person. 

Apple will learn a lot from generation one. Eventually the watch could replace the phone as a primary communication device for text and voice. For now, it’s a 1.0 with nowhere to go but up. It’s off to a good start.

Update: After posting I ran across this tweet. I see more and more like this each day. I dont think this is a signal of the watches failure. It’s just the reality of it. It’s a nice watch.

Another thing to note: I take reviews, like those at John Gruber’s excellent Daring Fireball, with a grain of salt. John makes his living from his support of Apple, and their products, and is never harsh. He finds the best in everything Apple does, and there is nothing wrong with that. I try to seek out neutral parties on the subject, which is hard to do. Most people either love or hate Apple. I felt like John Lilly’s comments were pretty neutral.

By Rob Fahrni

Husband / Father / Developer