Today’s “Watch A Day” isn’t a watch at all, though I wear it on my wrist. The Apple Watch is a useful extension of my phone, a wrist-mounted notification platform that also tells the time, and a bit of a status symbol to some people. But it’s not a watch.
I am not a watch snob. I love Swatch, Seiko, Orient, and the Timex Weekender.
I’m also not anti-Apple or anti-tech. I have an all-Apple work platform, including iPhone X, iPad Pro, and MacBook Pro.
I love watches and I love tech. I don’t love the Apple Watch. But I wear it a couple of times a month anyway.
See Also: A Watch Guy’s Review of the Apple Watch
Is the Apple Watch a watch? No more than the iPhone is a phone or the iPad is a pad. What are the jobs of a watch? A watch tells the time (and date and so on) and serves as a fashion accessory or piece of jewelry. For some people, the Apple Watch fits the bill better than a traditional watch.
The Apple Watch tells time better than any watch, with more accuracy and useful complications. If you flick your wrist to get the display to turn on. And only until the battery runs down. But do people really buy watches to tell the time? I’ve gone all day without actually reading the time from my watch!
The Apple Watch is also a piece of personal decoration for many people, telling the world that they are an Apple user and have the interest and money in such a device. Buyers (especially males) might not want to admit that this is the reason they choose to wear an Apple Watch or IWC Pilot or Rolex Sea-Dweller, but these accessories speak volumes about them regardless. At least the buyer of a Nixon or Devon Tread or pavé Submariner is honest about this aspect.
But the Apple Watch does much more than tell the time and advertise your image. The Apple Watch is an excellent platform for notifications, allowing me to keep an eye on my Slack and texts and appointments when I’m focused on driving or family. And it’s a good interface for apps on your phone, too. And frankly those extras are way more valuable than time telling or accessorizing, at least to me.
So I don’t really see the Apple Watch as a watch at all. It’s a specialized device that lets me leave my phone in my pocket while still being connected if important things come up. That’s why I reach for it on a Saturday or Sunday or when I’m driving long distances or attending family events.
But this raises the important question of wrist real estate. Even though people might not see the Apple Watch as a watch, and even though it might not be the right statement for them jewelry-wise, lots of people are wearing one instead of a traditional watch. And this is the real risk posed by Apple to watch makers: Given the choice between a useful device and a watch, they might choose the former and leave the latter un-sold. Apple faces the wrist real estate challenge too, with many consumers choosing a Fitbit or Garmin for these same reasons of utility and accessorizing.
I could gripe about the Apple Watch plenty. I could point out that the battery life is pretty poor, that it requires a special charger, and that it drains my phone noticeably too. I could also observe that it’s stupidly slow in refreshing applications, especially when it’s infrequently used, and that it twice got so out of sync from occasional wear that I had to blow it away and start again. I could also praise the excellent straps and bracelets, good build quality, and attractive if odd interface.
But why bother? This is Grail Watch. And the Apple Watch is not a watch, to me at least.