Hands on the Apple Watch, a week with the Apple Watch … By my guest author Bani McSpedden from Sydney Australia.

The Apple Watch. Pictures taken by Bani McSpedden

Pre-orders started three days ago, deliveries will follow soon and the availability in Apple Stores will start April, 24th. The Apple Watch is reality! It will hit the markets! Read this in-depht story to get a first impression of the Apple Watch

 

My friend Bani McSpedden was one of the few real traditional watch-writers invited to Apple headquarters in Silicon Valley for a briefing on the Apple Watch and the opportunity to experience it before release. Here are his first impressions. Bani McSpedden is watch editor of the Australian Financial Review and watch-next.com. Bani has been described as “the most widely recognised watch authority in Australia”.

 

 

Keeping a watch on Apple…

No one will be monitoring things more closely than traditional brands.

With deliveries of the long awaited Apple Watch commencing in many countries later this month, no one will be watching more closely than traditional watch brands.

This was flagged at the recent Baselworld watch fair, where despite not being on show, Apple’s newcomer was a hot topic, with opinions divided on the impact it will have on an industry dominated by the Swiss, and to a lesser extent the Japanese.

The head of LVMH watch brands Hublot, TAG Heuer and Zenith, Jean-Claude Biver, told attendees Apple was unlike previous competitors in that “they make as much in a month as the whole Swiss industry makes in a year.”

On record as saying he had initially been disappointed by the shape of the Apple Watch, he told me before the Basel fair that “the more I see the watch, the more I learn about it, the more I believe in its success.”

Apple is a threat for another reason – it’s a “cool” brand, the likes of which the Swiss have not come up against before.

In their favour, the Swiss, and at the high end Japan’s Grand Seiko, produce hand-crafted timepieces of such quality and complexity that they should continue to win hands-down when it comes to character and cachet. They are also largely obsolescence-proof.

Biver feels that the real threat is to lower-end timepieces, not mechanical masterpieces, but a question remains: what if young people in particular become accustomed to having something more multi-functional on the wrist than a simple time-teller? After spending a week with a pre-release watch my conclusion is that this could be a distinct possibility.

 

The Apple Watch. Pictures taken by Bani McSpedden
The Apple Watch. Pictures taken by Bani McSpedden
The Apple Watch. Pictures taken by Bani McSpedden
The Apple Watch. Pictures taken by Bani McSpedden

 

The Apple Watch at a glance…

Ordering

You can pre-order the Apple Watch now, with delivery commencing two weeks later.

Sizing/Pricing

The watch comes in two sizes, 38mm and 42mm measured lengthways, with prices for the aluminium sport models $499 and $579; the steel models $799 and $879 and the gold cased ‘Edition’ models $14,000 and $17,000.

Extra straps

Silicon Sport: $79

Milanese chain-link and premium leather: $229

Magnetic buckle strap $379

Metal link strap $679

 

The Apple Watch
The Apple Watch
The Apple Watch
The Apple Watch

 

No more running late

The Apple Watch is incredibly accurate, keeping time within 50 milliseconds of the Coordinated Universal Time, and automatically recalibrating as you move from one time zone to another. So no, you won’t have to check it every other day.

More than the time

Apple offers a vast array of functions and apps in addition to the time, ranging from messaging to music, fitness to fun. These are accessed three ways: via the touch-sensitive face of the watch; by operating a Digtital Crown; and by pressing an elongated button below the crown.

Swipe for a quick glance

A simple swipe up from the watch face reveals ‘Glances’ that give you a thumbnail of various items ranging from the weather to your calendar or your location on a map. You can either swipe through different Glances, or tap on one to go to its app for deeper details.

 

The Apple Watch. Pictures taken by Bani McSpedden
The Apple Watch. Pictures taken by Bani McSpedden

 

Crowning feature

The Digital Crown is Apple’s new input device, think of it as a mouse for your watch. By rotating it you can navigate without obstructing the screen view, using it for fine adjustments, and custom­izing the look of the watch. Pressing it once brings you back to the home screen, pressing and holding it gives access to resident voice commander Siri.

The Force be with you.

The Apple Watch boasts something called Touch Force, meaning its glass senses force, with a tap or a stronger press triggering access to a range of specific controls such as bringing up an action menu in Messages or a mode for selecting different watch faces.

Fantastic Taptic

Traditonal watches often have exotic inclusions like tourbillons to aid accuracy; the Apple has a Taptic Engine that powers a new system of alerts, whereby receiving a text message or map directions you’re notified with a gentle tap on the wrist and can even be used to transmit your heartbeat.

A timeless face

You can personalize your Apple Watch, choosing from traditional analog (hour and minute hands) faces or your own selection of digital displays. In addition you can opt for animated graphics ranging from butterflies to flowers or Mickey Mouse. The options are almost endless.

 

The Apple Watch
The Apple Watch

 

More than the usual complications

Like a traditional watch you can choose to display extra functions such as world time, solar time, moon-phases, timers and alarms, with the addition of sunrise and sunset indicators, stock quotes, calendar events, and your daily activity tracker. If you want more detail, tapping the complication opens the corresponding app.

 

The Apple Watch
The Apple Watch

 

You’ve got mail – nudge.

Notifications, mail, messages – or anything that appears on an iPhone Lock screen can be configured to appear on Apple Watch with a gentle tap to let you know its arrived. Notifications you don’t want to view immediately are placed into your Notification Center and a red dot appears at the top of the watch face to let you know it’s waiting for you. Swiping down from the watch face gives you access to them. Replying to a message you can choose a preset reply (based on the context of the message,) dictate a response and send it as a text or audio file, or even send an animated emoji.

 

The Apple Watch. Pictures taken by Bani McSpedden
The Apple Watch. Pictures taken by Bani McSpedden

 

The ‘Dick Tracy’ feature

With the Apple Watch you can make phone calls right from your wrist in three ways: by pressing the elongated button below the Digital Crown to access Friends; by tapping on the Phone app on the Home screen; or by using use Siri to call some­one. (Just lift the watch and say “Hey Siri, call xxx”) You can answer calls on the watch or continue longer calls on your iPhone. To decline the call and send it straight to voicemail you simply cover the watch with your hand.

Thinking of you…

You access family, friends, favourites using the side button below the Digital Crown. Here you can message, call, or use Digital Touch to communicate ‘in fun and spontaneous ways’ by sending a finger-painted sketch, a tap (you can customize taps for different people) or even send your current heartbeat to a fellow Apple Watch owner. (Simply press two fingers on the display, and the watch’s built-in heart rate sensor does the rest.)

 

The Apple Watch
The Apple Watch

 

Where am I?

You can see where you are, what’s around you, and how to get somewhere three ways: by launching Maps from the Map Glance, by asking Siri for directions, or from the Home screen. The Digital Crown lets you zoom in and the best route is suggested by visuals and taps. You can switch between Walking or Driving view, drop a pin on a location, or hold the Digital Crown to ask Siri for more help.

Not camera shy

Of interest to the selfie-set will be the Apple Watch’s Camera Remote function that automatically opens the camera on your iPhone. You touch to focus using live preview, then set the timer or simply shoot.

The watch can store up to 500 photos (downloaded via the iPhone) which you swipe to browse, or use the Digital Crown to zoom in on.

Even more remote possibilities

You can control Apple TV or your iTunes library with the watch’s Remote app. which automatically finds signed in devices or lets you use a PIN to pair.

 

 

 >>> Watching your health … read more about the Apple Watch >>>

 

 

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13 Comments

  • Thanks for this informative and well written report. Now I have got an idea how it is to wear an Apple Watch which I will most probably never do.

  • If You ask me which one: Patek,IWC,Rolex,Blancpain,Breguet,Lange und Sohne and you named it or an Apple Watch ? There is of course no question about it !! The apple is just a worthless publicity gimmick !

  • Thanks for the interesting first review of a great product which will form our future a bit closer towards the digital century. Industry 4.0 is resounding throughout the country and this will not stop over getting at our wrists. I agree with Bani that by wearing and using these gadgets you get adjusted quite fast to all those additional and useful features. It´s like the electric window lifter in your car. You do not really need it, but when having been adjusted to you do not want to miss it.
    But I do not expect that people start now wearing to watches; the mechanical left and the electronic right or vice versa. Just a minority of watch enthusiasts, like we are, will do that. The majority will just wear one watch and an exciting time period will come up to see what really will happen and what the customers preferences will be at the end of the day.
    I think Jean-Claude Biver is still one of the few CEOs having a realsitic view on what kind of fundamental change for the traditional watchmakers Apple and all the other big electronic players have kicked off.

  • Another gadget with hundreds of functions that I only need 2% of.
    However, if the quality of the case and the straps is as good in real as they seem to be on the pictures the traditional watch producers have a serious challenge to explain to customers why they dont offer the same quality for the same price. My wife stopped wearing her Rado because the dedicated strap never lasts longer than a year and the replacement is very expensive.

    • “Why am I smiling?” Was THIS a smile?
      But the last sentence made ME smile. Both wrists? Never going to happen.

      • OK. Both wrists is a little over the top. I’ll wear my Pebble when I am running machines. I never hear or feel my Android when a call comes in.
        As an aside you would have to threaten me with bodily harm to get me to buy ANY Apple product. Apple’s marketing strategy is entrapment.

  • Great review and interesting article.
    But I must say I remain largely unimpressed. Another very clever move from Apple who know how to make this right.
    Past the health/fitness fonctions and the little tap reminders that you got mail, this remains an extension of your iPhone on the wrist with a much smaller screen, when all those Are getting bigger and bigger… Not for me sorry, I still prefer to catch my phone zillions of times a day and have a proper screen to look at.

    Will Apple sell millions of them ? Sure! Will this replace mechanical watches? No way.

    And it might put something on the wrist of the Millenials. These youngsters who don’t see the point in wearing a watch because they are born with technology and couldn’t care less about the horlogical art.
    But as they will grow older with an Apple watch (or any other connected gizmo) on the wrist, they might get used to it and get interested in the “old-school” mechanical watch of their fathers (whose PP sits and waits just for them)…

  • Alex, a well written overview of the new Apple watch. Also explained some new details which I was not aware off. But at the end it is NOT a watch it is a Gadget. It will certainly change or wake up the Swiss watch industry mainly in the lower price segment. Now all of a sudden the PP add comes to my mind. (…you buy it for Generations) Will this also happen to the Apple watch? I am not sure. Sorry to say but Apple can bring literally anything new into the market and they would have at least 100’000 people buying it – just because it is Apple. I do not need all this functions on a watch. And I like my Swatches as well as my Omega and Heuer chronometers. Also you can NOT by this watch as stand alone gadget you need an Iphone or Ipad. Plus the battery life is very low 19 hours. It would be interesting to see what Mr Biver with TAG Heuer is doing and also what will the Swatch Group bring out. So lets wait and see

  • As I have said before my WOTD on my left wrist my Pebble on my right.
    Speaking of Pebble I hope I get my watch before Apple comes after them. Apple is known for patenting every feature of their products… little things and big things. They have a building full of attorneys to sue anyone perceived as ‘infringing’ on their designs. They have the money to litigate any entity into oblivion.
    No mention of battery life. Is it an issue of not or is Bani so smitten he forgot to ask. Well, they did give him the watch. I guess a little quid quo pro is expected?

  • Like they said that the Internet will kill books and magazines, fortunately not
    I do not think that Apple will kill classic watches
    Advanced technology often has no soul

  • Again – it is a mini-computer on the wrist, and it is not something to make jewellery on the wrist obsolete, which mechanical watches or even Swatch essentialky are. Apple could also have made a special edition of this computer as a necklace, and it would neither replace women’s collars there.

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