Yesterday, 9th September 2014, Apple presented their Apple Watch, with a video with commentary by Jony Ive (Senior VP, Design, at Apple). There’s lots of good stuff. I think it will work well on the market. The pre-launch gossip included the phrase “Switzerland are worried about the iWatch.” I don’t think that’s the case. But more of that after the positive points.
1. The design.
The cool things here are the bracelets. As the watch is electronic, magnetism – traditionally the arch-enemy of mechanical watches – isn’t a problem, and so the long, floppy leather straps and the slinky Milanaise bracelets use magnets to make them easily adjustable, and easy to open and close. There is a traditional leather strap with buckle, and a link bracelet with what looks like a very practical, very slim butterfly closing system.
2. Interchangeable bracelets.
The easy-to-use system of attaching the bracelet to the watch means that personalizing the watch with different straps becomes quick and attractive.
3. A watch for hypochondriacs.
When it comes to the Apple Watch’s technology, the coolest thing is the fact that it has sensors on the caseback that pick up heartbeat and possibly other parameters, and it can send this information wherever it could be needed. I would guess that this could be useful for people with genuine medical problems, and for the army of hypochondriacs out there.
4. Perfect for fitness fanatics.
This, I think, is where it’s a real winner. More and more people are taking to the street, running (people used to jog, now they run) with technology strapped to their arm that measures their performance, position, speed and so forth. With an iWatch it’s already there for them. It is fitted with gyroscope, accelerometer and GPS.
5. An intelligent watch.
It activates the display when you raise your wrist, a cool and energy-saving function. The display senses touch, but also force, distinguishing between touches and taps and using this added functionality for more complex communication with the device. THey call this their “taptic engine.” The inductive charging system is great.
6. A watch that you can talk to, and that talks to other people.
It seems to have a seamless interface, and so the convenience of have a messaging system strapped to your wrist will be great for people who spend a lot of time in the WhatsApp world. It has a dictation system for easy input of messge texts, and it apparently functions as a mobile phone.
7. A touch of romance.
You can draw little drawings on the touchscreen and send it to an Apple Watch in communication with you. The button below the crown seems to be linked specifically to this sphere, and calls up friends. Tapping on the screen puts you into communication with another iWatch somewhere else. Share your own heartbeat. Perfect for kids.
8. A bit of exclusivity.
The Apple Watch comes in different versions, the basic version in stainless steel, the Sports version with anodized aluminium case, and the Edition with a case made in a specially hard and non-scratch type of gold. The people at Cupertino must have studied the watch industry very hard and decided that they needed to make at least one version of the iWatch a piece of jewellery for the wrist.
You can change the way you want the watch display to look, so digital, or analogue, chrono subdials and so forth.
10. The digital crown.
They’ve taken one of the most recognizable features of a watch and made it into a way of zooming into maps, photos and so forth, as well as setting time. With such a small display, touchscreen technology wasn’t enough because just a couple of fingers cover the screen.
What don’t I like about the Apple Watch?
1. The design.
It looks like half an iPhone strapped to the wrist. I would have expected more from Apple and Marc Newson, the designer who has been working with them on this.
2. The gold.
An attempt to add a veneer of luxury to a mass consumer product.
3. The apps.
I personally have enough of these little circular emblems – the music, Pinterest, running, photos – every day at work and on the iPad. Do I want to see them all over again on my watch? Personally, no, but that’s just me, I guess.
4. The concept.
I’m sure that Apple had to do it, it will have a big future, but I personally would never put that thing on my wrist. They’ve worked really hard to make it a useful object, and they’ve succeeded, but a watch is fundamentally not a useful object, and could even be described as totally useless in today’s world. And this is why there is nothing that will affect the fine watch market. On the contrary, the Apple Watch highlights the unique qualities of a fine mechanical watch. I think that all the real watchmakers will benefit from the Apple Watch.
5. The charges
The people at Apple say that they studied high-end watches a lot when working on their Watch. But one thing that I feel they could have done is to take at least one part of the mechanical watch thing: for example, a miniature generator driven by sliding weights in tubes on each side, to make it iindependent of a charger at least for a period. In my opinion, a mechanical watch is fantastic because it keeps on going, in theory forever. The Apple Watch is forever dependent on the charger.