It’s nothing like buying an iPhone.
Apple began accepting preorders for the Apple Watch on Friday. Unlike other Apple gadgets, you can only order the watch online. But the Apple Store is still stocked with watches for you to try on and figure out which one works best for you before you order.
I went to Apple’s 5th Avenue store in New York Friday to test the process out.
This location is normally open 24/7, but Apple closed it for a few hours overnight to reset the floor with new display tables for the Apple Watch. They were the focal point of the store, with Apple’s other gadgets like MacBooks, iPhones, and iPads pushed to the perimeter.
You could look at the watches in display cases or test one out at a kiosk, but the best experience is when you try the Apple Watch on one-on-one with an Apple retail employee.
The whole process is designed to help you find the model that works best for you. There are two sizes of the watch and several band options. I walked up to an Apple employee and she asked me which model I wanted to try. I went with the steel Apple Watch. She tapped her iPhone against the display table to magically unlock a drawer full of Apple Watches.
She grabbed the steel Apple Watch with a steel band and put it on my wrist for me. Then she told me to double tap the button on the side of the watch to start a demo loop of the watch’s main features.
The first thing I noticed was a slight vibration from the watch’s “taptic” engine. This is how the watch subtly alerts you to new notifications like incoming calls, texts, tweets, emails, etc. Next, the watch cycled through the demo of everything else it can do. But I couldn’t interact with these demo models. The purpose of the one-on-one sessions with Apple employees is to find the style and size that suits you best. You have to go to one of the kiosks to play with a working Apple Watch.
I have scrawny wrists, and the steel band was way too large at first. My guide took the time to remove some of the links to give me a better fit. Next, she asked if I’d like to try a different band. I went with the leather loop, which quickly became my favourite.
The leather loop has a series of magnets inside that snap into place to match your wrist size. It’s soft, light, and comfortable, unlike the chunky and heavy steel band. I didn’t end up buying an Apple Watch, but if I did, that would probably choose the leather loop in black.
After going through the one-on-one session with an Apple employee like I did, customers can head over to a computer to order the model they want online. The watch launches on April 24, but most people ordering today will have to wait weeks or months for their watch to arrive.
I’ve been to the Apple Store a bunch of times over the years to buy stuff. While employees are usually happy to spend as much time with you as you need and answer all your annoying questions, it never felt as personal or as intimate as it did when I got my Apple Watch demo. The Apple Watch has changed the entire vibe at the Apple Store.