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Apple Watch Review Chapter 3: One Year After

Apple Watch Review Chapter 3: One Year After Wrist Time Reviews

Near the end of April 2015, we published my “day 1” review of the Apple Watch just 24 hours or so after getting my own and putting it on my wrist for the first time. Later, in May of 2015, I followed up with another review talking about my experience wearing and using the Apple Watch for about a month. Now, in May of 2016, I’ve had the Apple Watch for about a year, and I wanted to once again examine my sentiments about what I feel is still the best smartwatch on the market. I have a lot of things to say about this lovely-looking wrist-worn gadget that represents (in my opinion) one of the most interesting products of the last decade.

Apple Watch Review Chapter 3: One Year After Wrist Time Reviews

Apple has yet to announce an Apple Watch II or followup to the original Apple Watch. There haven’t been too many software updates, but Apple has rolled out a lot of new straps and some additional color choices since the initial launch of its first watch last year. Of course, since the Apple Watch launched, many other smartwatches have come to market – mostly being Android Wear-based devices – with prices both below and above that of the Apple Watch.

I’ll readily admit that my profession as a watch writer and reviewer does not lend itself well to wearing the same timepiece all the time. That means I have not worn the Apple Watch on a regular basis, but rather have gone in and out of periods of wearing it given the fact that I simply have so many watches to wear all the time. I can say that while I have sometimes worn both an Apple Watch and another watch on opposite wrists at the same time, I’ve found that I prefer to wear just one watch at a time. Thus, when I wear the Apple Watch I like to wear it exclusively, and when I wear other watches I engage in the same behavior.

Apple Watch Review Chapter 3: One Year After Wrist Time Reviews

With that said, I can report that over the last year I’ve worn the Apple Watch more than any other other single timepiece I have as either part of my personal collection or as part of a review. Moreover, given that the Apple watch is more than a device to indicate the time, but rather a computing product, reviewing it (along with other smartwatches) is more complicated than reviewing a traditional watch. The Apple Watch is both the hardware and wearing experience, as well as the software and connected experience. These are different facets of the product and need to be considered separately.

Last, I’ve worn other smartwatches over the course of the year, including the TAG Heuer Connected watch. I’ve carried two phones for years, so this makes it easy to have more than one smartwatch. I can’t really say that the Apple Watch experience is better or worse than Android Wear because, ultimately, they are different. Apple is about a self-contained environment with their own software, hardware, and tightly controlled third-party apps. Android Wear-based devices all have the same software (well, mostly similar software) but the hardware can be quite different. So Android Wear versus Apple Watch is not a perfect comparison given what it is that you are evaluating. With that said, these two operating systems are easily the kings in the market and, in my opinion, still represent the most full-featured and robust “true” connected smartwatch experience.

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Apple Watch Review Chapter 3: One Year After Wrist Time Reviews

I’ll begin with saying that, after a year of use, I’ve discovered a lot of things about smartwatches both in terms of how people use them and how I feel about them. Watch lovers and other critics harshly penalized the smartwatch market with overt criticism and even hostility. I think many of those feelings have toned down a bit, but among many circles there appears to still be a prejudice against smartwatches as a segment. These mostly flow from two points of view, being “smartwatches are not watches,” and “consumers don’t benefit enough from wearing smartwatches.” I actually don’t wholly disagree with these points of view, but I also find them to be of limited relevance. It doesn’t matter if you can place the Apple Watch and its colleague products in the same category as traditional watches, and I think that people are too quick to attack what is still developing technology in a developing segment.

Apple Watch Review Chapter 3: One Year After Wrist Time Reviews

Enduring Hardware & User Interface Design

I will say that the Apple Watch – in my experience – still represents the most fluid and refined smartwatch product of anything else out there. Much of this is thanks to the intense level of research and development resources Apple dedicated to the Apple Watch product, as well as the tightly controlled software experience. The hardware is probably the best Apple has produced in any product. I’m used to Apple products being fragile, but the Apple Watch (in steel) has put up with regular wear very well. Of course, the steel case has its share of small scuffs and scratches, but the overall construction is as good as anything from the traditional watch industry – actually better, if you directly compare most other watches in the under-$1,000 price range.

The Apple Watch looks much better than I expected after a year of use, and I think it is a credit to Apple – who have proven that they can make a watch that ages like a watch should. I’ll further say that the ingenuity and effort that went into the Apple Watch’s case and strap system design continues to impress me. Clever engineering and tight tolerances are best-in-breed. People often don’t give Apple enough credit for designing entire production systems to make Apple Watch cases, bracelets, and straps in a high quantity, with a high level of quality. This isn’t easy to do, and for the money, it is beyond impressive what Apple has been able to achieve the first time around with its seminal smartwatch product.

Apple Watch Review Chapter 3: One Year After Wrist Time Reviews

I’ll speak more about the straps and other accessories below, as I have more to say on that. Right now, I want to talk about the operating system and user interface. Developing something robust and easy to use on a small screen with limited input options was probably the biggest challenge for Apple when it came to the Apple Watch. Granted it isn’t as intuitive as an iPhone, I’ve been really happy with the overall navigational experience using the phone’s various features and have never found myself looking too hard for various features. I also find that while the screen customization options are limited, you can tell that an enormous amount of effort when it to designing the various watch faces and options. Refinement is very high for what the Apple watch includes out of the box – though, I think Apple is slow in allowing users to customize their Apple Watch experience when it comes to the software side of things.

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  • word-merchant

    An interesting series of articles, so please keep them coming; I’m certainly seeing more and more Apple Watches on wrists in my day to day life – and I can’t remember seeing any Samsung, Motorola or Pebble smart watches in the wild at all.

    I can also see that the Apple Watch is produced to Apple’s exemplary standards of manufacture, like the iPad is, like the iMac is, indeed like everything Apple makes is. But, my word, to me it’s such a sterile, boring, personality-free device, a blank empty slab looking for a reason to exist. Apple’s ‘most personal product ever’ is their dullest by far. There’s nothing about the Apple Watch that engages me in any way at all, and I’m generally a big Apple fan. So I think people have bought the watch despite the design, not because of it, and they’ve bought on a whim as a throwaway experiment. In the many parts of the world, for better or worse, many people have this sort of monthly disposable money that they can waste, and they do: an Apple Watch or four good meals out in London. We can all be unthinking consumers now.

    But this didn’t used to be why people bought Apple, and this should concern Mr Cook. You mention an acquaintance of yours who’s lost their charger, yet continues to wear a now useless Apple Watch daily. I’m sorry, but this is bordering on idiocy: not a trait I would be proud of, and it doesn’t really help your position that the Apple Watch is an important device. All this really enforces is that Apple have found yet another way to efficiently part us with our money – they haven’t moved the market anywhere, they haven’t ushered in a new dawn in watch making, they haven’t even ushered in a new dawn in design.

    Being the best in a market of also-rans is easy, but hardly inspiring. Apple needs to do better.

  • Craig Cramer

    I’ve worn the AW every day since the first day it came out. Your review reflects my experience. The AW is useful and fun. I love its convenience and style. It’s my favorite computing device and one of my favorite material possessions overall. It’s greatly reduced the pull of my iPhone and thereby keeps me more engaged in the world around me. I’m sure the AW will get better, including in profound ways such as health. But, aside from the slow processor, I’m quite satisfied with its current form.

    I find it interesting that the two most fair and accurate AW reviews appeared here and on Hodinkee. (I’ve never owned a mechanical watch and only started paying attention to them after getting my AW.)

    • Joo Kim

      I think Ariel is really enamored with this AW. I also think he feels guilty about it.

      So he torn between the 2 worlds. But i think he needs to accept both as valid.

      A SW is great for day to day use and giving the user access to more data, controls and connectivity. It can also be a burden to use and intrude when you dont want it to. Even though you can turn it off or go offline.

      A mechanical watch looks nice, has history and a certain aura around it. A Rolex or James Bond Omega or Classic Patek are conversation starters. But those are Niche subjects. Like a 25 year old Glenfarclas Scotch.

      Both are valid things to own and use. So own both.

      • Craig Cramer

        I don’t find the AW a burden in the slightest. It’s actually relieved the burden of my iPhone’s pull on my attention. As far as also owning a mechanical watch, while I find some of them cool looking and have become intrigued by the mechanical watch culture, I have no interest in owning an expensive piece of jewlery with almost no utility. That’s just me. The one person I know who gave up on the AW did so because he missed his mechanical watches.

        • Joo Kim

          Mechanical watches are fun to own but i agree i would not break your bank for one. Which I suspect will develop Asian based complex mechanical watch brand. Orient is one such but wont be the last. If there is money to be made someone will make it.

  • IG

    It should have a built-in wrist hair trimmer, that would be perfection!

  • apple watch is not a watch . its a $80 chinese gadget .

    • pingrava

      An 80 dollar Chinese gadget (designed in the USA!!) so selfie taking, hipster attention wh*res (talk about redundancy) can wait in line for 3 days, eager to spend their parents’ money.

    • Wayne_LePew

      Childish retort.

  • ??????

    I believe its not fair to review only ONE smartwatch. Its fair to either concentrate solely on watches or to give a chance to other gadgets. What about LG/Motorola/Garmin/Samsung/Sony etc?

    • Shinytoys

      I was kind of thinking that same thing. I enjoy reading about the advancement in cellular technology, and how it is growing and improving daily regarding smart watches and phones, but the topic is as tall as it is wide. There are countless forums and magazines devoted to the topic. Because there is so much product out there, I think ABTW will eventually have to choose what direction it would like to go. There might be exceptions like the Heuer or the Breitling that are trying to bring the marriage of smartwatches and quality time pieces together, and I would like to see the technology improve, the offerings reviewed and read about right here at ABTW. But I would still like to see this forum lean toward the world of mechanical horology. Just my 2 cents, can’t even get a decent bagel with a schmear in Philly for that kind of money 🙂

      • Joo Kim

        i dont think thats anytime soon. Both side of this will go on for a while. There is no single device for everyone. and thats the point. Smart watches will give you options. So will owning both a Smartwatch and Rolex. I will wear the SW each day, but i will slap on the Rolex for a Special Event. I will keep the Rolex my whole life, but i will switch SW once or twice a year.
        So ABTW needs to follow both sides.

        • Shinytoys

          I would be willing to bet that the majority ABTW reader has the exact opposite watch wearing regiment that you are currently employing. Wearing mechanical pieces most, if not all of the time, and an occasional smart watch on the wrist. Will that change with offerings like Heuer or Breitling and other companies joining the fray, the marriage between mechanical quality time pieces and smart watches? Time will tell.

          • Joo Kim

            I think you are correct. Its a paradigm shift that has not happened. Yet. Its also possible that it will be a generational shift. The danger to Watch makers is the next generation not getting into watches. It also doesn’t help that the secondary market takes sales away from the manufacturers.
            If they don’t adapt to the market they could easily find that the market they are in does not exist in the future.

        • ??????

          If ABTW needs to follow both sides – why only iWatch is covered? Where are Samsung/LG/Huawei/Sony/Garmin/Alcatel/Motorola/Polar etc. etc.?

    • Joo Kim

      I agree with that sentiment. The mistake is thinking any one company can solve all the problems and come up with all the best solutions. Its why we need competition. Apple, Android, MS, Pebble.

    • They did take good looks at the TAG Heuer Connected and Samsung’s Gear S2 de Grisogono, but this is somewhat tricky since smartwatches are usually best served by using a given phone platform. The TAG can technically talk to an iPhone, for example, but you really need Android to make full use of it… and of course, an Apple Watch won’t work with an Android phone.

      • ??????

        Do you mean that Ariel has iPhone and hence cannot test fully Android-based watches? I understand that, but still its not so hard to find Android phone and do proper test.

        • To a degree — it’s more that it’s hard to test them all without having multiple phones.

          • Joo Kim

            In time i think the goal will be app and data based. Apps will take on more a central role so the OS wont matter as much. Its like the idea of running Facebook on your phone, ISO/Android/Windows. Siri even came from a third party app.

            So like computing has become its about adding functions via 3rd party apps.

  • Mark Baran

    I have spent most of my adult life in and around computing technology. Having been around the industry when Apple was founded; I find the company’s product development history rather amazing. I have also been a watch collector most of that time. So your reviews on this product have been very interesting to me.

    I bought one of these when they came out. About a month later, after wearing it a few times, I gave it to one of my team members who seemed to really appreciate the technology.

    Point is, it is not a “watch.” At least from my perspective as a watch collector. And from a technology perspective, it really does not present enough features to keep me interested beyond the point of initial buyer’s remorse.

    But things in the tech world continue to change and advance. Apple never does anything without a long term product development plan. Batteries will improve. New features will be added. In four or five years, it will be a different ball game.

    When they put a radio in one, and can give me a business card size keyboard with a battery that I can keep in my shirt pocket or wallet, I suspect I will be a buyer once again.

    • Raymond Wilkie

      A watch on both wrists ?…………………………….really ?

    • Joo Kim

      Samsung already has a stand alone LTE watch. Gen 2 by now. But even that needs time.
      I have already seen virtual keyboards, imagine typing on a keyboard projected from the watch onto a table surface.
      Add in dictation direct to email or txt. Already doable.
      Call from the phone connected to BT. or speak into the watch itself.
      Not there yet but the point is we will get there. And as need arises, solutions will appear.

      • Mark Baran

        We are in complete agreement. When I posted this morning, I knew I was already behind the technology curve.

        • Joo Kim

          which is absolutely fine. Most of us are in one area or another. We cant be cutting edge on everything.
          And that’s why its great that you expect more. Because we are being given more each time. Each Gen, Each cycle we get more. Then we will hit a point where we have what we want. Then it may go static for a while until someone comes up with the next thing. Its not about an ending, its about the journey.

      • Wayne_LePew

        You can already dictate to the Apple watch. Why would you need a keyboard?

    • I think the “it’s not a watch” argument stems from the same point of view that argues that electronic music isn’t ‘real’ music because there are no conventional instruments. It’s a watch — it’s just not a watch as people have known them for centuries. Changing technology doesn’t undermine the core concept, even if it does mean that you won’t be passing your Apple Watch down to your grandkids.

      Leaks suggest that the next Apple Watch will have an option for cellular data, so you won’t need to have your phone nearby for most any task. Keyboard? That’s not happening, but you can already use voice to reply to email and messages, and calls will go to your wrist if you’re in a hurry.

    • Boogur T. Wang

      I see it as just an evolutionary step.
      Technology, as you say, always evolves.

      • Mark Baran

        I agree. But, as a follow up thought, I would add…….

        I see tremendous growth in the smartwatch market over the next five years. But I also see smartwatches moving into their own market segment. That is to say, I don’t see them competing directly with the luxury watch market. However, I do see this new market segment taking a chunk out of the luxury watch market. As many smartwatch adaptors will probably never move into the luxury market, having found there satisfaction in the technology side of the business. Both good and bad to some degree I suppose.

  • Raymond Wilkie

    It certainly does take a ” special ” person to walk about with a run down apple watch. Cant believe you managed to stretch this review out to 4 pages. ……………..i despair,………i really do.

    • Bill W

      Amen. When I got to the bottom of the first page and saw there were three more I pulled the plug.

  • TrevorXM

    A sub-par iPhone with a too small screen strapped to a wrist has no place on a watch blog. Nothing wrong with the occasional piece on a quartz watch if it is something exceptional. A watch is worn on my wrist and my phone is in my pocket where it can’t get its screen smashed.

    • xToddrick

      One, of the many, advantages of the Apple Watch. My iPhone stays safe in my pocket much more.

      • Wayne_LePew

        It also extends the phone’s battery life, because the screen doesn’t light up and the phone doesn’t make sounds when it receives an alert.

  • otaking241

    I’ve enjoyed reading the one-year reports on the Apple Watch, especially since their conclusions seem to vary so broadly. Unfortunately the watch journos have tended to weigh in with the kind of cozy, rose-tinted reviews that come from not wanting to offend the brand too much, as seems to be common in the industry (you do want to get invited back to Basel next year, don’t you?). More honest reviews seem to reach a consensus that the AW is a useful but very limited device in its current iteration–too much for a fitness tracker and not enough for a real tech enthusiast. I will be interested to see how the AW evolves in future releases to see if it really becomes what it was promised to be, but for now it doesn’t appear to be a worthwhile investment for most people.

    • Raymond Wilkie

      Don’t hold your breath, it never will.

    • Joo Kim

      It will. Like most tech its clunky at first. Anyone remember Dial up. The Laptops that weighed 15 lbs and got you 1 hour of battery life. The Cell phones that need a battery lunch box. Hand free that worked only with a Cable dangling from the phone.
      People need to understand that when tech is designed its almost never designed as stand alone. Its designed to fit into a life. How will this work with what you already have. from this it then evolves into, how can this improve/replace what you have/do. Its the future.

    • pingrava

      That’s the beauty of this site-fair unbiased reviews. I just wish the a**kissing magazines would review watches much in the same manner that Motor Trend reviews cars (they’re both in the same price range). What I do not see here are reviews for pieces of cr*p that get fawned over because, as you said, they want to get invited back to Basel.

      • Ariel Adams

        Our lives would be boring to unpleasant if we decided to review “crap watches.” We value our wrists and the things that go on them. We do this because we love watches and choose to generally review timepieces we find interesting. Reviewing uninteresting or crappy watches might make for some good comedy the first few times, but would quickly turn into a slog of making the some complaints over and over again. Life is a lot more interesting to review stuff we like and can get excited about. Otherwise reviewing watches would go from fun to homework, to punishment. If you are curious about whether or not a watch or brand is worth getting, then simply look at whether or not we cover it at all. If we don’t, then that is telling enough.

        • Joo Kim

          Just asking, Do you think that the lower end brands good options. Tissot is one i was thinking about?

  • Bruce Wang

    There are no cell phones in nowadays except for smartphones, which people approved, most of them want something that you can do it all in one piece…so smart watch…I still think it is “useless” for now, the industry does not get to the “ideal” purpose yet….take for example this Apple watch and this scenario: you are in the wedding ceremony, you have this watch on your wrist and iPhone inside the suit pocket so you have some call or message and you can see it on your watch instead of the phone, it is just a shortcut? For what? Come on, try harder….smartphone “kills” most of techs around….video, digital camera, mp3 players, notebook, watch, etc…and whatever don’t have it you can download the apps so what the smart watch stand for? I still don’t get it…..

    • Joo Kim

      I dont think thats accurate anymore. People dont want all in one devices now, They want all their info accessible from multiple devices. Phone, Tablet, Laptop, Watch, Car Dash, Web, Glasses, Headset, cameras etc.
      The future is more about connected data through devices. The more variety the better. Bluetooth or similar (better) tech.
      The wedding scenario, calls come in, you see and reply with a standard message or swipe it away. A VM then comes in you can read or ignore. You can snap a picture as a reply from the wedding. you can send a quick txt/email reply “At wedding, call later”.
      Future is about options not limitations.

      • Bruce Wang

        A VM then comes in you can read or ignore. You can snap a picture as a reply from the wedding. you can send a quick txt/email reply “At wedding, call later”. But I can do this from the phone, why should I do the same from the smartwatch? People in general can not live without cellphones, whatever you do or not, you carry it as “part” of your life….then you have this smartwatch which only works if you’ve already had the iPhone….it just a marketing to sell their watches without any “real purpose”….maybe I am a conservative guy (in some points, I am I still love records) but people want carry less gadgets as possible….I still hate take pictures on cellphones so I always take my digital camera on events and what most of them do: they shot as many pictures as they can…from cellphones….not to mention selfies…..the digital camera industry is starting to cut slowly their entry level cameras because they are on cellphones now….I think technology is stable now, you don’t see anything exceptional in nowadays, you just see updates from the hardwares and that’s all…maybe something that will revolutionize in forward is this flexible LCD (or OLED) screen which is still in experiments otherwise I don’t see any utility in smartwatches….

        • Joo Kim

          Bruce you actually prove my point. You love records even though MP3, Flak make it easier to listen to music from your Smartphone. You bring a Digital Camera even though your smartphone could do 80% as good a job. And yes industries will need to adjust like digital cameras companies are doing.
          The point of the watch is to act in conjunction with and independent from the phone. imagine when all you devices actually talk to each other. Thats what the watch represents.

  • Larry Holmack

    Where I live only the hipster college students still wear AW’s. I have a few artists friends who wore them for a few months, and now they just collect dust in a drawer somewhere. One of them told me he stopped wearing it because it was too intrusive and interrupted him far too often when he was busy painting. It’s kind of the same way I feel about having a smart phone…most of the time it sits on top of my watch case on my dresser turned off. I lived 50 plus years without a smart phone or smart watch…and managed just fine.

    • Joo Kim

      I think thats the point of the Smartwatch and Smartphone. Keep you connected. But i also think you are correct that for some that is not what they want. Then you get to a Smart Watch that does not need a phone but can give you access to some data. You can program to give you time, location, weather etc. We can already do this just not well yet.
      Wait for when the artist friend can use the watch to remind him a few things or an app to look up a song or voice command a paintings name or any other info. But not reach into his life.

      • Boogur T. Wang

        Very good ideas.

      • pingrava

        I’m sorry, but with my experience in manufacturing (aerospace, nuclear, machine design & naval architecture) competency can be taught. The labor pool is here-just not in silicon Valley but say, in the Midwest.

        • Joo Kim

          That’s what Detroit said, Its what clothing companies said, Its what Luxury Bags makers are actually doing. You are arguing that this type of manufacturing can be done in the midwest, I agree. It can also be done in Asia. Combining robotics and People. The argument is not where but why. Its cheaper in asia to produce goods. You give up certain things that i think are a mistake. Like secrecy of your process. But many companies do just that.

          Nuclear – Japan is big in this area.
          Machine Design – Korea and Japan are big in these areas.
          Plus parts are getting manufactured in asia. CNC machines don’t care where they are plugged in to.

          Design can still be done in US or Europe with Solidworks designs getting emailed to the CNC/Robotics directly.
          Just pointing out that these process can and will be sent to places where its cheaper to mass produce them. Its common practice.

    • pingrava

      I’m not a technophobe, but I have a deep rooted dislike for Apple (the same feelings extend toward Facebook). I feel Apple is hipster centrist, obnoxious (like the employees in their stores) and WAY overpriced. I hate their wiggle clause of “Designed In The USA” while they make a mint off of low wages. Both companies are anti-American, thus prime bait for hipsters.
      When they make their products here (and mega d**che Zuckerberg stops his green card crusade) maybe, just maybe I’ll set foot into an Apple store for the second time in 5 years.

      • The problem with the “way overpriced” and “anti-American” arguments is that they probably hold true for the products you’re buying in protest, too. The raw bill of materials on a Galaxy S7 isn’t that much higher than an iPhone 6s, and Samsung (not to mention a good chunk of the mobile industry) makes some of its phones under similar working conditions. Your game console? The pre-built PC on your desk? Similar conditions. Very little of the tech you own was likely made in the US.

        Apple actually makes the Mac Pro desktop in the US, but that’s because it’s a low-volume product that’s easy to build with robotics. But it’s unrealistic to expect widescale US manufacturing, and I don’t mean because of the pay — it’s because of the employee pool. In China, it’s easy to find thousands of appropriately-trained factory workers at the drop of a hat. In the US, most people are either overqualified (and thus wouldn’t take the job) or underqualified (and can’t). Those that are a good fit, meanwhile, are too few or can’t relocate quickly. Tell the US to orchestrate a fundamental shift in educational priorities and you might get what you want 20 years from now.

      • beardedman

        Bias is an ugly thing. 🙂 Hey, I used to feel the same way about BMW and their drivers. Some people like Apple, some don’t. I think we can see from Apple’s financial position, they must be doing something right. Stay out of their stores if you are uncomfortable there but I doubt if your lack of patronage is noticed by anyone at all.

        • pingrava

          I’m not saying they’ll be hurting without my patronage. I don’t use products whose manufacturers d not fit my worldview. Apple makes a half decent product. But it’s become a product that depends less and less on slavish dedication of its users than innovation.
          And I hate turtlenecks.

      • Wayne_LePew

        So does Samsung, HP, Dell…

    • beardedman

      Where I live, my husband loves his Apple Watch that I bought for him. He’s not a watch guy but was always missing phone calls and reminders due to leaving his phone laying somewhere unknown around the house. The watch has worked extremely well for him to take calls on and be able to hear (and silence) reminder alarms and do other tasks that would otherwise make him jump up and search for wherever he left the phone lying. As for being interrupted too often, the watch app lets you set what goes to the watch and just how interrupted you want to be. If one of your hipster friends can’t handle the simple learning curve for that, it’s probably best that they stopped using the watch.

  • Joo Kim

    HI Ariel,
    I think most of what you wrote is spot on. The future for watches is not traditional. Its smart. The biggest hurdle is still battery and function. The connectivity to Smart phone is important but when watches become a little more detached from the phone they will have more appeal to the masses. Some connectivity but more independent suctions as well.
    Also as battery life reaches 5-7 days.
    My Android Asus Smartwatch easily get 2 days. When we hit 5-7 than that changes things. Add in wireless charging and you have a easy to use watch. Charge on the same Wireless pad with your phone.
    Current design leans to thin as possible but future designs will get thicker and heavier. More room for battery and better screens. Flexible screens coming soon.

    Traditional watches will always be around and admired but i think as “Fashion” brands start getting into the Smartwatch market and you see watches at Macy’s, Target, Costco, etc. then you will see the boom start.

    • Joo Kim

      “Some connectivity but more independent suctions as well.”
      typo.
      Some connectivity but more independent functions as well.

  • Joo Kim

    Is watch tech any more complex than other tech? When you had to design on paper and build each spring and screw. When you had to see the movement in your mind and test each idea by building the watch and making sure the parts fit. But in today’s world you can design the watch in Solidworks and tell it to move. You can watch it in motion. You can have parts 3D printed or CNC machines in minutes. Its easier, faster and better.
    So is the future mechanical?
    Like the Auto, Book, Music industries learned. Its about the quality of content and brand attractiveness. Its about why should i buy your watch when I can get a equally manufactured one for 1/10 the price. Here comes China.
    Just wait till movements are manufactured via robotics. More accurate, precise and less expensive. With iterations and accuracy of the movements increasing exponentially.
    Its not a doomsday but a wake up call to the industry. Do more, do better and for less.

    • TrevorXM

      “Just wait till movements are manufactured via robotics.” They already are in all low-cost brands. How else do you think makers like Orient can make mechanical watches in Japan so cheap? Or Seiko’s low end Japan movements? Or even Swatch group’s mechanical pieces? And they have been all robot made for a long time. Sorry to burst your bubble, but the “all by robot” watches can’t compete with an “assembled by human” watch. For example, Rolex recently jumped up their certification to +/- 2 seconds a day. In the very few peeks into their facilities we get, their watches are assembled by humans. Like them or hate them, nobody can argue with Rolex quality. As in all truly high quality complex manufacturing of high end mechanical things, the best requires a smart mix of having the machines do what they’re best at, and skilled and experienced humans doing what they’re best at.

      • Joo Kim

        I think you missed the point that iterations of the “Cheap” movements will increase. As those get better than so will watches they make. Swatch is a good example of this. Fashion brand that make “cool” affordable watches. Orient is the example of a Brand trying to grow into Higher end watches but using the Robotic Manufacturing capabilities afforded to them today.
        Its not about can they, its about if and then they. +/- 2 seconds is fine. But Quarts can achieve this and some watches and even use GPS and time clocks to auto reset each day.

        I dont argue about the quality of Rolex but how can you then argue that Patek or Omega should be priced higher or lower than Rolex? If you take cost of manufacturing you get a set commodity price. Then you add factors like scarcity and Brand Value. But that’s not a factor of cost.

        American Auto Companies said the same thing about Toyota in the 80s. American Steel said the same about Chinese Steel. French said that about american wine. If you speak of right now you are correct.

        But expertise can be learned and replicated. Over time. So when the Robots are taught better ways to assemble the parts. When the parts, many of which are already made in bulk, can be manufactured for less. When the Brands pick up in popularity. Where was Samsung as a brand 10 years ago? All of these factors lead to place where mechanical watches become commodities. What was once a profitable Niche market becomes a victim of its own success. If there is money to be made, people will come in and make better, cheaper and market to the masses.

        Any industry can survive for a while on reputation. But eventually all industries change or die.

        • TrevorXM

          What you don’t understand is that true luxury items like high end mechanical watch are not directly connected with nuts and bolts economics when it comes to their prices. You can type pages and pages about how much you love robots, and how other types of timekeeping mechanisms are more accurate, but your arguments were obliterated about thirty years ago with the end of the quartz crisis and the renaissance of the mechanical watch. People love these watches because they are made by people.

          • Joo Kim

            I think the quartz crisis was a warning shot across the bow. It forced the High End companies to upgrade their process and improve their branding. They also increased prices to offset the loss in volume. what that created was a more profitable industry but at the cost of pricing people out of the market.

            I am not arguing the emotional attachment people have to their watches. Or the perceived value people give them but rather the viability of the high end business. See what happened when China got out of the Watch Buying business.

            Ask BMW why they make a 1,2,3 series. Why not only M5 and higher. Ask Jaguar, Range Rover, Astin Martin why they have been sold over and over again.
            High End is great and if the brand survives it will gain a long term collectors status. But the business suffers and other brands replace it. I would rather own a DBX than a Camry but i wont drive it everyday.

            I am not arguing that SW will replace Mechanical with the current collectors. I am saying the new collectors wont appear. That new watches wont attract New Collectors. New Watch wearers will go Smart and non traditional mechanical. And that new tech and processes will allow them to go mechanical for less.

            And trust me i understand high end brands and their attractiveness. But these brands all rise and fall over time. A few survive like LV, but they have to change. How many brands are under a few parent companies. Rolex is one the few independent ones.

          • Boogur T. Wang

            To go along , maybe, with your theories – Two market segments are always ripe for growth – one slower and onequicker.
            “Always room at the top.”
            “The USD$ low end market will always be a stable field.”

            Thus Timex, G-Shock (although they are marketing their high-end models quite heavily), and a host of others put a lot of emphasis into those who “just want a watch” and not a Fashion Statement.

          • Joo Kim

            The one difference with the old model vs the new model is function vs cost. Old model always gave up function and form for price. The new model will give you function and form for a lower price.

            Its almost not the same model anymore. Where the difference in price is a couple of hundred dollars, not the Thousands of dollars.
            Today its Rolex at 7K vs Tissot at 2K. But in SW its Apple at $600 vs Android at $400. And both can give you very close functions. Styles are different but build and materials are similar. Both are made in Taiwan.

            Both ends of the market grow and one can dovetail into the other. Liken Samsung S7 vs Iphone 7. Close and yet very different. But both are very functional and look very nice. I bet people use their Smart Phones way more than their watches.

        • beardedman

          “how can you then argue that Patek or Omega should be priced higher or lower than Rolex” Two things I know: Patek does a level of hand finishing and decorating to the movement that Rolex does not. Rolex typically doesn’t offer a display back, so you wouldn’t see Geneva stripes and hand beveling unless you opened it. Patek’s display back shows it off. If you want that level of internal beauty – and for some it’s very desirable – you pay for it and how. Also, Patek is a family-owned for-profit while Rolex is 100% owned by the not-for profit Hans Wilsdorf Foundation (since 1960 when the founder left it to them), which happens to be one of the largest charitable organizations in Europe, without fanfare. That and they make a damned good watch. 🙂 Omega? They are a member of the Swatch group. I have no comment on that except they are “a diversified multinational holding company active in the manufacture and sale of finished watches, jewelry, watch movements and components.” (via Wikipedia) Take from it what you will.

  • A_watches

    Its an ugly mini limited low battery iphone for the wrist made for tech geeks. Oh look i got a message my wrist is vibrating..really i dont see how that improves my life. Much rather have a beautiful mechanical eye candy. I think strapping a tech watch on my wrist constantly nagging me about messages, emails fitness, news would stress me out.

    • Simple: let’s say you get lots of email or text messages during the day. Do you want to reach for your phone every time in case it *might* be important?

      Also, it’s important to note that you can tone down notifications to get just the ones you care about. You don’t have to get news updates if you don’t want to; me, I limit my notifications to email, messaging apps and other time-sensitive info.

      Also, it’s not just about notifications. Let’s say you take mass transit or Uber — well, you can now check stop times or hail a ride from your wrist. I use Swarm to check in at locations and let friends know where I am. That sort of thing.

      • A_watches

        Quite simply. I don’t particularly like or feel the need for an iwatch. Where as I don’t need to wear a mechanical watch but I want to. You probably think the complete opposite to me.

        Thanks for the tips anyway!

        • That’s fine — just be aware that it’s definitely possible to get good use out of them.

          As for me? I certainly wouldn’t mind a mechanical watch, but it’d be hard to go back to wristwear that “only” tells the time.

      • Wayne_LePew

        You can also receive your airline boarding passes including the scannable QR code on the watch.

  • wrigduo

    You can write whatever you want, still not buying this…

  • DanW94

    I grudgingly use my smartphone and have absolutely no desire to extend that device to my wrist. I’m not diametrically opposed to the technology but I do take issue with how it’s insidiously pervaded our every waking moment. As if people have magically forgotten how to live without an app or a creepy e-voice telling them what to eat or how much to exercise or to remember a meeting. I just don’t need an alert or a suggested electronic course of action for every facet of my life. Anyhow, Ariel thanks for the one year update and I’m glad you like the AW. To each their own.

    • Svetoslav Popov

      Yep, and when to drink water 🙂

  • John

    I consider myself a bit of a techie, I used a Sony smart watch long before Apple tossed it’s hat in the ring and was totally disappointed in it. When Apple came out with this Smart Watch I traded phones with my girlfriend and tried the Apple watch I figured maybe it would be better and it was very disappointed it and the I phone actually. Didn’t do anything really different than the Sony and IMO looks like a cheap digital watch from the 70s. She has since switched to Samsung because she like my phone better than hers! LOL I was lucky to sell the Apple watch and almost broke even. For Christmas I got a Samsung Smart Watch and it was just about as useless as the rest of them but it was a gift and I am stuck with it. I wear it when I know I will be out with the friends that gave it to me but I do hate it, I miss wearing a REAL watch. After using three different smart watches in the last few years I came to the conclusion they are not worth a dime or the trouble! People seem to push these but a lot of people I know got them, only to put them on Ebay with in a few months. I found trying to use the watch was a pain I was always getting the wrong things to come up etc. Even with the Smart Watches on my wrist I found myself grabbing my phone for everything because I had missed a lot of messages and calls because of the so called Smart Watch. I am now back to my Bluetooth and just the Smart Phone! IMO this Smart Watch fad will die out really soon once the novelty wears off I doubt they can ever make them an item we can’t do with out.

    • Boogur T. Wang

      Good points. I live in a fairly high tech area and see that the “after-market’ sales of AWs is rather high. Many “gently used” AWs to be found.
      Good choice with the Samsung – I am impressed with their items.

      • John

        Thanks, I have a restaurant we have a huge relationship with MIT. We cater and deliver to them several times a week. I have become friends with a lot of the faculty. I go to their Flea Market every month during the good weather, not long after the Apple Watch came out their was a lot of people selling them there pre owned. I was surprised they were on the secondary market so fast. Samsung IMO makes the best Cell phone product out there. I liked my Galaxy III and when I was ready for an upgrade I got the Note 4. I could have gotten one of the newer models free as well but was really disappointed Samsung decided to go with a sealed phone! No access to the battery and no micro SD slot. I emailed Samsung with a pretty critical Email about it. I see they decided to at least give you the SD slot on the new 7 edge. At this point I plan on keeping the Note 4 especially after they upgraded the OS to the latest Android ver. I didn’t buy one but I liked the LG Urbane Smartwatch, out of all of them at least it looks like a watch and even if you do not use it as an extension of your phone it looks like a traditional watch. Like I stated in my first post I think the Smartwatch is a fad that seems to be fading fast. I see less and less of them out in the wild and more and more on Craig’s List, Ebay and a lot of them in the Pawn Shops.

  • Craig Cramer

    What I find most interesting about many comments on the AW is the dismissive opinion from people who haven’t tried it and from some who have generalizing from “it doesn’t appeal to me,” to “it’s not right for anyone.” This is all the more striking because of the high satisfaction ratings of those who have tried the AW.

  • Marius

    Regardless of whether you like the iWatch or not, don`t forget one aspect: the Chinese fake has more functions than the original iWatch. I repeat: the Chinese fake has more functions than the original iWatch. Once again: the Chinese fake has more functions. Chinese fake, more functions. Chinese fake…

    • The Chinese fakes (there’s more than one) also tend to look like crap and function accordingly. Better to do a few things well than many things poorly.

      • Joo Kim

        Also i think the fakes one are running android. So functions would be different. You can fake the hardware but the OS is another issue. Which means you may like android better.

        Also fake often leads to real over time.

    • Wayne_LePew

      I know a guy that bought a Chinese fake Oris for less than $100. It’s quartz, the chronograph features don’t work, but what they hey, it says “Oris” on the dial.

  • Gokart Mozart

    Wow, Ariel. Cant believe you managed to get 4 pages out of it. I will call it a compliment on your writing skills.

    I have 2 or 3 points I want to make but I will have read through 4 pages again to find the bit I want, so just one now.

    The AW like all Smart watches is a (pointless) first step to get people to wear smart wearables ignoring fitness trackers. The AW is a remote control for the iPhone with an invisible lead, nothing more really. The watch can’t do anything without being a certain distance from the phone and all of the functions are only some of the total of the phone itself. It is not too exhausting to take a phone out of a pocket or handbag. If you are an energetic person and you want to exercise you can use one of those Velcro arm bands.

    For the argument that sometimes it is not acceptable to use the phone, in those same circumstances you shouldn’t really use the smart watch either. Eg meeting, wedding, watch show.

    This is the case for Android, I phone and any other formats. I will come to the other issues later

    • xToddrick

      It can do several standalone functions.

  • iamcalledryan

    I really like the look of it, I totally understand why people are going for it, but I also need more independence from the phone before I pick one up. Give it wifi and gps and we are really onto something. Between Ariel and Jack Forster, it’s hard to ignore the impact that this watch and its competitors are having on our concepts of the modern watch. I will always love mechanicals but I am also finally starting to accept that there will be microchips in my collection.

    • Joo Kim

      Try the Samsung or huawei watches. Built in wifi and lte.
      Not the best but something to try.
      And wait for Amazon to come out with one. You could order stuff from them on it. (Sarcasm but only just)

  • Svetoslav Popov

    I think that most reviewers are just being cautious with smart watches as a whole. They are afraid that if they are sincere they would look stupid and shortsighted in the very near future. So most of them chant the same mantra over and over again – smartwatches are useless for the moment, but they have great potential when the technology evolves. I (as a watch lover) am convinced that it will not happen anytime soon. Even if they get batteries lasting a week or a month, even if they receive a constant face and become durable and WR, the whole concept of notifications on my wrist is appalling to me. I love a mechanical (or even quartz for that matter) beauty on my wrist, that is not screaming for attention, that changes its character with the lighting conditions and 3 hands sweep above each other and cast shadows upon the dial below them. For me the watch is an accessory to my clothes and shoes and my other jewellery. Do you want a diamond ring that rings and vibrate when you get a message? I don’t!

    • Joo Kim

      Just as an example, Huawei android watch. $400 works with Apple and Android (native).
      Looks like a watch, feels like a watch (kind off). Still Gen 1. By Gen 5 should be close to what you want from a watch.
      Wont be for everyone. Clearly. But the arguments against them wont be of look, function, costs, battery life. It will be about Luxury brand and Status symbol. Valid yet superficial reasons.

      You can turn off notifications except for emergencies. You could us it to locate your phone. You could use as flashlight (emergency). It could adjust automatically to you location. But its the option to turn off features not wish you had them.

      Its the future but does not mean the end to Rolex or Omega or Patek or Zenith. But it may be the end to mid/new/cheap brands. Unless they lead first.

  • Gokart Mozart

    Now to get to the watch itself. The battery life is terrible. To last a day or less when you actually use the watch only a little bit, and the fact that to see the time you have to press a button is embarrassing. Why wear a blank screen on your wrist. As for the guy who wears an Apple watch when he can not find the charger, well 2 things. 1. Apple is just being awkward when the rest of the world uses USB. 2. I would buy a vintage watch almost anything, most watches from the 50’s looked good. Does not matter if it doesn’t work like an Apple watch user I will use my phone to tell the time. If I was female I would buy a nice bracelet.

    The question of straps. Firstly, most people who buy AppleW will not really be into watches and will want either a smart watch or anything and everything Apple make. Ie a fashionista . I dont think they have bought out a white 18 K gold watch yet, only yellow. How many people will buy loads of straps for this watch especially at the prices being . People may buy 1 or possibly 2 to personalise the watch. Knowing Apple don’t have a high regard for customer satisfaction and giving the consumers what they want, how sure would you be that Apple Watch 2 straps would be compatible with AW1 straps.

    $149 for a classic strap is a helluva lot compared to the cost of the watch, and the cost of production and how many they will make. We have all heard the stories of Foxconn, working standards, suicides etc. This is from a company sitting with approximately $50 billion dollars cash. They can be a bit more generous to suppliers and there staff surely.

    Swiss made straps will have employees who are paid a minimum of about $25 dollars per hour. Google minimum wage Switzerland as a couple of cantons were thinking of implementing it. You say it is better than straps 2 or3 time s the price I am sceptical. A Hirsch alligator strap from about £75for a cheap one is really nice. Would the strap be that much better?. May be there may be some more stories about working conditions in the near future.

    As for design and quality don’t forget Marc Newsom designed it of Ikepod . The Apple watch is a cross between an I phone an ikepod and a PP Elipse ( I think). As comfort was a priority when designing his watches you would expect that. They got a high end watch designer and designer in charge of the project. Comfort should be expected

    I quite like the shape of the case and wire style lugs. But the companies resources and the company principles of waiting for someone to come out with an innovative idea, and then refining and redesigning it and make it trendy and charging a premium for it. It should have been good.

  • There’s a lot of hate, fear and snobbery in this forum. I thought the article was a good read and on a topic that is apropos. In my opinion, a watch is a tool first and jewellery second. The Apple watch is a great tool watch, but it’s looks are nothing special. I bought one recently and I find I’m wearing it more than my other watches. I prefer looking at my other watches, but this Apple watch is darn useful and I’m quite appreciating the notifications when I’ve left my phone in another room and I’m finding that I’m more inclined to keep fit or look after my health nowadays. No small feat that.

    But when I go out in the eventing or for important meetings, I’m more concerned how I look and what the watch say’s about me, so I wear a mechanical. There’s a huge charismatic character about a mechanical watch that I always appreciate when I check the time. I don’t feel that about the apple watch, even though I wear it more often because of its usefulness.

    One thing I wonder is the place of the quartz watch. It has no charisma as its just an electronic device. It can look as good as a mechanical, but it’s not as useful as the Apple watch and has totally no appeal or charisma. Some will say it lasts longer on a charge than the Apple watch; My Suunto lasts about a year on its battery, but I never know when it’s going to die and when it does, it’s a pain as I have to try to find the correct battery to purchase and then reset the whole watch. Ditto for my other quartz though it lasts about 3 years. The Apple watch never needs a battery, I just place it on the charging disc at night, so its always charged. It typically lasts me 1.5 days on a charge, so I don’t understand when others say it doesn’t even last one day.

    Since I purchased my mechanical watches 2 years ago, I never wear the quartz watches. But I do wear the Apple as well as the mechanicals.

    Sure the smart watch is just emerging technology and has a long way to go, but it’s an interesting time.

    So, to summarise. The smartwatch is a watch, it tells the time and sits on your wrist, so it’s applicable in this blog. Mechanical watches will always be cool, they won’t die away and there’s no need to be fearful and hateful to the new kid on the block.

  • Bill Jones

    Fantastic article! I couldn’t agree more. I have several high end watches, but over the last year I would say that I’ve worn my Apple Watch the majority of the time. If it had an always on display, I would’ve worn it even more.

  • Wayne_LePew

    I’m 61 years old and I have an Apple watch and 21 other watches. What’s a “hipster”?

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