I’m not an Apple Watch sceptic. As Apple devices go, I don’t think I’ve even been as excited to play around with one as I was the wrist computer from Cupertino.
About a week ago, I did get get some hands-on time with the Apple Watch (along with some other BI-ers). I was really looking at it as a watch, not as a piece of connected technology. My topline impression was that Apple did a nice job with the design of the stainless-steel version. At over $US400, it feels solid — it has good heft on the wrist, and the fit and finish are pleasing. It’s not all that heavy, something that actually bothered me a bit. Unless you’re intentionally spending hundreds or thousands for a slim, lightweight timepiece, you want your watch to gently remind you that it’s there.
But there were three things that bothered me more.
The Apple Watch is very, very, very fiddly
Even rather complicated traditional watches are ultimately quite intuitive: they’re largely controlled by the crown, the stem, and in some cases, small buttons called “pushers.” Master these simple controls and you can get the time (even in different time zones), the day and date, study the phases of the moon, monitor elapsed time, keep track of time, and set alarms.
The Apple Watch, by contrast, has a whole bunch of fiddly little details to master, from interacting with the crown to swiping the screen to managing the setup of the apps on the device. This is not all that easy to do, mainly because the screen is so small.
Plus, just putting the watch on is a fiddly process, at least with the synthetic sport band, which makes use of a weird sort of punch-hole-and-keeper system rather than a simple buckle. I couldn’t get a very precise fit.
The Apple Watch is hard to read
I can’t read some of the stuff on my older digital sport watches anymore without glasses — the information is simply too small. Everything is small on the Apple Watch, so as soon as I had to interact with it beyond telling time, out came the glasses. This was immediately annoying. I guess this is probably more about me than the watch, but I have of late been favouring larger watches with simple faces, so that I don’t have to go to the specs.
The Apple Watch is uncomfortable
I wore the watch for about 15 minutes and in that time, the device became rather uncomfortable in my wrist. I thought this was weird for a relatively light watch. But what was initially merely irritating became rapidly intolerable — and this was without the vibrating notifications. I wanted the thing off. I’m currently testing out two other watches and neither has created this issue: they have both been good for all-day comfort, indoors and out.
Any of these issues would compel me to question whether a traditional watch was worth it. In fairness, the Apple Watch’s techno-fiddliness is a function of what it’s supposed to be: a “smart” device. But the other problems could be defined as bad watchmaking.