A watch guy’s thoughts on the Apple Watch after seeing it in the metal

“I’m not even sure we can call it a watch. Okay, it goes on the wrist, and it happens to tell the time, but that’s about where the similarities between Apple’s just announced watch and the hand-assembled, often painstakingly finished mechanical watches we write about, and obsess over, end,” Benjamin Clymer writes for HODINKEE which specializes in wristwatch news and reviews. “I was lucky enough to be invited to Cupertino to witness the announcement of the Apple Watch firsthand, and though I do not believe it poses any threat to haute horology manufactures, I do think the Apple Watch will be a big problem for low-priced quartz watches, and even some entry-level mechanical watches.”

“In years to come, it could pose a larger threat to higher end brands, too. The reason? Apple got more details right on their watch than the vast majority of Swiss and Asian brands do with similarly priced watches, and those details add up to a really impressive piece of design,” Clymer writes. “It offers so much more functionality than other digitals it’s almost embarrassing. But it’s not perfect, by any means.”

Apple Watch, Apple Watch Sport, Apple Watch Edition

“The overall level of design in the Apple Watch simply blows away anything – digital or analog – in the watch space at $350. There is nothing that comes close to the fluidity, attention to detail, or simple build quality found on the Apple Watch in this price bracket,” Clymer writes. “The rounded edges are very Apple, even very Marc Newson, who, based on absolutely nothing but a gut feeling, I’m sure had something to do with the design of the Apple Watch. Why? Just look at it… Read on to hear my thoughts on the Apple Watch, from the perspective of a watch guy. Oh, and there are dozens of in-the-metal pictures, too.”

Tons more in the full article – highly recommendedhere.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “AdMan” for the heads up.]

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Apple Watch freezes the smartwatch market – what there currently is of it – September 10, 2014
Henry Blodget on Apple Watch: ‘Meh – it’s irrelevant’ – September 10, 2014
Jony Ive: There are ‘millions and millions’ of Apple Watch combinations – September 10, 2014
Apple Watch will disrupt the digital watch industry – September 10, 2014
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Dvorak on Apple Watch: ‘Yawn – I’m not going to buy one’ – September 10, 2014
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  1. “The rounded edges are very Apple, even very Marc Newson, who, based on absolutely nothing but a gut feeling, I’m sure had something to do with the design of the Apple Watch. Why? Just look at it…”

    I wholeheartedly agree. It has Marc’s signature all over it.

    1. Soon the press will be spawning the ‘Apple Naked Celebrity Wrist Scandal’.

      already since yesterday the web sphere is crowded with thousands of new Apple Watches on Naked wrists Selfies , imagine when they they sell millions…

      “Are our Bare Wrists Safe?” the Inquirer wants to know…

    2. Back in January 2007, when the iPhone was introduced, I was impressed with the product (even went to MacWorld to see it up close in its glass cylinder case), but didn’t think I’d rush to buy one.

      Fast forward six months: I was standing in line on Launch Day.

      I sorta feel the same now. I like it. I think Apple did it right. I am not sure I need it. But in 2015, when it shows up in the stores, I strongly suspect I will be buying one.

      Sometimes the logic of Apple’s product case just takes a while to become compelling.

  2. I don’t think it will make a difference. True watch lovers will still love finely crafted instruments. I would still rather wear an Omega Speedster.

    The day the AppleWatch operates completely without the need of my iPhone in my pocket, that might change.

      1. Same here.
        Not saying I won’t ever own one, but as of right now I will not get one.

        $350 for a watch I can only wear a few hours a day.. I have broken so many watches, crushed them, gummed them up with every substance out there, tore them off my arm etc, it’s one of the reasons I don’t wear one anymore. Tired of replacing them every 6 months, I have one Casio titanium watch that I have yet to break/scratch/destroy..

        Everywhere I look I can find the time, iPhone, microwave, bank reader board, car, computer, radio, toaster.. you name it and you can find the time.
        That’s why the apple watch *has* to do much more than just tell time.

        Yes… I saw the heart monitor stuff (wrist based heart monitors pale in comparison to those around your chest..)
        The fact that most of it needs an iPhone… Kinda sucks. But understandable.
        If I want to plan a route to run/bike and leave my iPhone in car/home I can’t use the map… So why not use the iPhone and use a mount on the bars for the iPhone to rest in?

        The raise to see the display, to conserve power, nice. Except most of the day my arms are at chest to head level… Battery life would be real bad, unless I could change it to only turn on via the crown..

        Apple watch, promising but not quite *my* kind if watch yet.
        Again, not writing it off… Just saying that for $350 I am not interested yet.

    1. Agreed, but regardless of the Watch’s sobriquet, telling time is not the point. Neither is fine mechanics. How many people owning an iPhone use that device largely to place phone calls? Not many, the device is so much more. So too will be the Watch. Once deployed, and with the help of payment, home control, keyless locks, health and fitness apps, (and who know what else?) I think we are going to see a rapid change in type of convenience and efficiency we can experience. Not overnight — the iPhone took a couple of years to mature — but it won’t be long. Even so, fine watches will still be coveted for their fine craftsmanship by those who an afford them. The <$1000 watches are going to have a run for their money.

    2. It appears to need the iPhone less than we all originally thought. One of the pages on the Apple website about the Watch says you can “listen to music on the Apple Watch itself if you leave your iPhone at home when you go for a jog”. So clearly its capable of some independent operation.


  3. Not a lot of folk wear watches these days. Apple knows this and built, in my opinion, a ground-breaking product with enormous potential.

    I’m a watch guy and a sailor. I’ve had a stainless steel Rolex Sub on my wrist for the better part of 15 years. No batteries, had it serviced twice because the manual said I should. I’ve never had to wind the thing because the mechanical movement is exquisite. It’s a certified chronometer (COSC) so timekeeping is excellent.

    In short, I need the ruggedness of a quality watch but don’t want to miss the potential benefits of the Apple Watch. A dumbed-down, clip-on version version of Apple’s new device has appeal to me. Something along the lines of what was done with the iPod mini would work.

    I’m guessing Apple and its fashionistas have figured this out and are planning a device for the rest of us.

    1. I too am a watch guy and used to be a sailor. I have a number of watches in rotation, right now a Seiko automatic 200m diver’s watch is on my wrist that keeps considerably better than COSC standard time. Although most of my watches are mechanical, next in my rotation is a Citizen Flight Hawk that is solar powered and sets itself to the WWV time signal nightly. No Rolexes, but I have a Zenith in a solid 9KT gold case that that keeps better than COSC time and a Omega Constellation that is COSC and in a solid 18Kt case. That particular Omega is my special occasion dress watch.

      I will definitely have room for an Apple Watch on my wrist, it fits nicely into the rotation.

      1. I hear you.

        My wrist real estate is taken but I’m open to some alternative (clip on?) device that will at least allow me to participate in the financial transaction part of the Apple Watch.

  4. The author is clearly delusional. As it has been released it is clearly not as functional as he makes out. When Samsung released one of their earlier watches that at the time only worked with the Galaxy Note 3 it was described as a useless brick. Well the Apple Watch only works with Apple Phones and most of its features will not work without the phone …. hence it is a useless brick too.

    Add to that its not exactly a looker, digital crown looks fiddly (why not just use pinch to zoom it works!) and will not work easily for right handed people, plus any watch with features like the AW but has a battery of less than a day is also badly flawed.

    We were told to be patient, unlike others Apples takes its time but bring out perfect product. Well the AW is just a far behind as all the other new breed of watches out there, unless they vastly improve before release in 2015, again we wait.

    1. First things first. Yes, the first Samsung watch was derided for it’s need to be tethered to a specific model of Note. But, the issue wasn’t entirely the watch’s role as a peripheral as much as it was a peripheral for a single device in the Samsung lineup. It would be like the Watch being only able to function with an iPhone 6Plus, and nothing else. As is, the Watch will function in the presence of any iPhone made in the last 2 years. Samsung has since fixed this problem, and the chorus of criticism has has also subsided, but your comparison and assertion that the Watch is a ‘useless brick” is flawed from the start. Would it be nice if it could be fully featured without a phone? Sure… but the technology for that simply doesn’t exist – yet, for if it could have been done, and done right, Apple most certainly would have done it. In time this will change.

      Your second argument is an even richer, more aromatic variety of BS, as you start with a completely subjective opinion about its look as if that is supposed to be a valid metric for anything, and assert that the ‘crown looks fiddly’. Well, considering the author of this piece has actually held, worn, and used an Watch and had no such issue, and you’re merely creating realities based in ignorance, you just come off as… let’s just say, foolish. As for the pinch to zoom thing, well if you actually watched the keynote, you’d see that there is plenty of opportunity to interact with the Watch’s touch screen, but the crown allows one to navigate the device without covering the screen and obstructing the view of the wearer in the process. Now, maybe you have a birth defect that gives you normally sized wrists and hands with fingers that have the circumference of sewing needles, but for normally proportioned humans, this input device was well thought out, and from what people who have actually USED it have to say, it’s also very useful and well built.

      Finally, you say that all such devices are far behind. Behind what exactly? If you were to rate the Watch the same as all the other tech wearables currently available, and then there is no behind, nor ahead, as everything would be parallel. This speaks to a general misunderstanding of reality and how things work, which perfectly sums up the complete nonsense that preceded it.

        1. hey Kelly (i.e. unregistered troll) I believe he allowed colin to have an opinion, and merely responded to it. You on the other hand have nothing positive to contribute. Move along, troll. You’re not welcome here.

      1. My point was that if you throw criticism like the one I raised then you have to be prepared for the same arguament to be thrown back at you. The fact is that the AW will only work with Apple phones and that is limiting and most of the features need the phone which is even more limiting.

        To say the technology is not out there yet means nothing. If the AW was to be as great as the author is suggesting, Apple should have come up with the technology, that’s what we were expecting, that is what was promised. We were being told Apple will redefine the watch market and all we got was something that was the same as is out already.

        Looks are subjective, but I do not see a general opinion out there that says the AW is stunning, I think the Motorola 360 would get more votes for that.

        You cannot say that looks is not a valid metric either as Apple and iPhone fans have been using the subjective opinion of looks since its inception, putting looks over functionality every time!

        The crown has been used on analogue phones for years and they are fiddly to use. We are talking about a digital smartwatch in 2014 the digital crown (a pretty stupid name) does not fit in and makes the watch look unbalanced. The left handed use is also a very valid argument, proper design would have led to it not being an issue. You do not have to use it to see this.

        They are all far behind what is being expected of a new genre of digital watches. No one has come out with one that will define this market as Apple did with the original iPhone.

        So I stand by what I have said and reading the general reaction to the iWatch I am probably in the majority.

        1. Well, I’ll argue you’re probably not (in the majority). And after reading the general reaction to the Apple Watch (the iWatch name was the rumour mill), I’m sure majority will actually like it and think it is cool.

          Digital Crown is an ingenious solution to an obvious problem: pinch-to zoom on an inch-wide display. It is simply impossible — when you put your fingers to the screen, you are essentially blocking the WHOLE display. Not to mention that the actual amount of space your fingers have to travel on that display in order to pinch/spread is way too little to make it even remotely practical. Even on the iPhone (4s and earlier), the size of the screen makes pinch-to-zoom a bit cumbersome for some applications, where one ends up endlessly pinching/zooming, little by little, until they get to zoom in /out to the desired level. On the watch, it would be absurd, without the simple, intuitive, familiar and elegant solution of “digital crown”.

          As for the actual design, this is obviously a matter of personal taste, but people around me who had seen the presentation were mostly awestruck by the coolness and elegance of the design. So, for every one person that you can find that finds this one uninspiring, I’m sure I could find two who claim that it is stunning. As for the comparison to Moto 360, it is also a very cool looking device. Objective choice between the two will depend on personal preferences (whether you prefer traditional round concept, or more contemporary rectangular).

    2. Did you even bother reading the article?

      The author is coming at it from the perspective of a watch reviewer, not some jaded techie with a check list of features and specs. As an example, he goes into detail about how the Apple Watch’s bands measure up against those used with high end watches … basically, details that techies ignore but matter to consumers that actually buy watches.

      The Galaxy Gear was a shoddy attempt to get something out the door first, and became an orphaned product after only 7 months. It was poorly reviewed for many reasons. Trying to conflate it with the Apple Watch is a rather pathetic stretch.

      1. I wondered the same thing. The author comes from a source that focuses on high end Swiss watchmaking. His critique offered praise balanced against honest criticism and questions. He went to great pains to qualify his article as a review of design, style and workmanship of the physical piece only, and stated clearly that he was making no judgement on the software or functionality. No one really can yet, until the final product is released into the wild. The Watch is a luxury item in the sense that it is not necessary, and ultimately, to get the full benefits of what it will offer will require upgrading perhaps your home and auto. But as the potential conveniences add up, which they will I am sure, the Watch will become more and more an aspirational device.

    3. Remember the old days when people actually had to wind their watch every day? Those watches must have been pieces of junk, right? Just imagine, having a watch that just told time and maybe the date that you couldn’t wear without having to wind it each and every day. What a disgusting design flaw!

      Apple has not revealed the battery life and you are already putting it down. Such ignorant arrogance. You need to reconnect your typing finger back to your brain.

      1. Actually I read in more than one place that although they did not reveal the battery life, it was said that you would have to charge it every night. Seems like not so arrogant and you are the ignorant one.

        Comparing to the old days shows how ignorant you are. The old watch could be wound and reset in seconds, how long to charge a new watch? The old watch did not need another you to bring anything to make it work again, with the new watch you will need the charger and then a plug point. The old watch told the time and date. The new watch is sold on much more, making payments, health and fitness and more. It did not need another gadget to be able to do what it was designed for. Can you see the “flaw” in your analogy?

  5. “… though I do not believe it poses any threat to haute horology manufactures, I do think the Apple Watch will be a big problem for low-priced quartz watches, and even some entry-level mechanical watches.”

    Cool. I’m sure Apple won’t mind taking 80% of the watch industry, and maintain the $1000-$5000 AppleWatch Editions for the high end “haute” market.

  6. so many reactions, so little time. the new apple watch is virtually germinal. it’s power and independence will evolve. apple is always being asked to surpass itself. how many other entities out there could produce a version 1 of this caliber.

    when apple creates, the xiaomi’s of the world imitate, the shamsungs of the world misappropriate, the enderle’s of the world flatulate, the ballmers of the world denigrate but the mdn’s of the world, they actually get it. you get it. solome gets it. the people in cupertino get it. when human beings aspire to do great things, all human beings profit. long live apple.

  7. Anyone remember how thick the original iPhone was? The Apple Watch will get thinner with time.

    Anyone remember how limited the original iPhone was? (No 3G, no 3rd party apps, no app store, slow processor). The Apple Watch will get more capabilities with time.

    Anyone remember how when the first iPhone was shown off but before it was released, everybody was saying how it was “too big” and no one would buy it? I’m pretty sure millions of people will buy the first Apple Watch regardless of the fact that it’s supposedly “too big”.

  8. Well the MacRumors crowd hates it, which should be a huge relief to Apple because if geeks like it then it will bomb for sure.

    Some people reckon it’ll get thinner, but I’m not sure if it will. The digital crown needs to be a certain size to work, and it also needs room to turn without jamming against your skin or trapping wrist hairs. Apple will probably come up with a new idea for scrolling/zooming in later models, like stroking the edge of the case.

  9. Let’s go back remember the first iPod, iPhone, etc. Apple began a long term ecosystem with these products! Does anyone think that Apple is giving us the whole ball of wax in a first iteration?
    Step one…give the consumers a semi-attractive product that first targets watch users and does just enough stuff to beat the competition and get that first purchase. After the first iteration takes off, then release a product that targets the next generation, which is non watch wearers or, in other words, teenagers. This 2nd iteration will be much thinner and curved and more form fitting and will do more. Apple wants to release at least 5 iterations of a wearable that they could probably do in two. They want sustenance and longevity.
    Ive thinks thin and streamlined, and this version is not that…yet! So let’s see the bigger picture and have a blast with this version! We wanted another product category…here it is…it is probably one of the best version 1 products ever created. I personally am dreaming of a thinner version 2. Apple has to think of the upgrade cycle!

  10. It is a brilliant new product from a design and finish standpoint. However, one thing that bothers me so much so that I probably won’t buy one, is that for all the focus on “referencing watch vocabulary” that Jony Ive himself says in his video, is that the crown is off-center. It is a classic design of traditional watchmaking to have a crown on the center of the right side of the watch. (This also would solve the problem for lefties.) One of the things that Apple does best is to sacrifice neither form nor function in its design, but to optimize both seamlesslyl. I’m sure there was another way to integrate the button below the digital crown to permit the crown to be on center.

    I wonder if Steve Jobs would have let this happen?

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