When the Apple Watch was launched after years of speculation, it was greeted with breathless coverage by the tech press. More recently, Apple has courted the fashion world—putting the watch in Paris’s trendy boutique Colette and having Jony Ive profiled by Vogue. But to get a real sense of what the Apple Watch is all about, you should listen to the watch bloggers.
Last week, Ariel Adams wrote up a hands-on consideration of the Apple Watch on his site, A Blog to Watch. Aside from some excellent close-ups of the watch in various sizes and finishes on and off the wrist, Adams had written a thoughtful analysis of how Apple’s watch works, its price points, its potential and where it sits in the marketplace. And in his thoughtfulness, he actually manages to get something back from the Apple handlers over why the company used 38mm and 42mm to describe its watches in terms of height, as opposed to width (the standard used by the rest of the watch industry):
Apple confirmed that there was an internal debate about this. Some people wanted to go with the traditional way of describing a watch’s size, while others said that what was more important to assess a good fit was the height of a watch such that the edges of the case do not extend past the boundaries of one’s wrist. This is absolutely correct, and something I have been preaching for years. Apple decided that height was a better measurement, and thus decided to use that as a designation, arguably clarifying one of the more ambiguous areas of trying to size a watch without actually wearing it.
He observes that having higher-end versions of the watch necessitates selling them in places other than just Apple stores and Best Buys, and he holds the device and considers the Apple Watch from multiple points of view—as a piece of jewelry and a piece of tech, as a mass market watch that is still high-end, and one that will soon be held by people who have never held an expensive Rolex:
For a mass-produced product, the Apple Watch is excellent. While it isn’t hand-polished, nor does it have complicated surfaces like those seen on a Swiss timepiece, it is an amazing achievement, not just for Apple, but for the tech industry overall. I’ve never had what is essentially a high-volume, high-end gadget that felt so good in my hands. The sad thing is that most Apple Watch wearers will not be “watch people,” so they really won’t have too much to compare it with.
This follows on from a much-shared post by Benjamin Clymer on his wristwatch site, Hodinkee, a few days after the watch was launched. Again, Clymer focused on size and the thinking behind them:
They didn’t exaggerate the options and make one decidedly male oriented at 44mm and a girly equivalent at 35mm or the like. Any man, woman, or child could pull off either size with ease. This may not seem like much, but remember this is Apple’s first watch, and it would be a very easy mistake to make it too big or too small.
In his criticisms of the watch, he is equally thoughtful. He said it failed the “cuff test” in that the Apple Watch doesn’t fit under his shirt cuff without serious effort. But the most insightful aspect of his review, like Adams’s, is that he thinks of it from another’s point of a view:
Imagine a man who grew up in the middle class, went do a decent school, got an okay job, lives in a nice apartment in some metropolitan town, maybe drives a German car and occasionally splurges on something nice for himself. Do you see him wearing the Apple Watch? I don’t.
Compare the lucidity of these observations with what’s been coming out of the fashion press. The sidebar on the device in Vogue merely notes that Apple’s watch does everything Giovanni de’ Dondi’s clock from 1350 can do “plus it monitors your pulse and, if you like, shares it with Apple Watch-wearing friends.” The New York Times’s fashion critic, Vanessa Friedman, spends most of an article about the designer Azzedine Alaïa’s party in honour of Ive and the Apple Watch in Paris talking about seating arrangements and whether Mick Jagger did or did not get up to sing, without much consideration of why Apple wanted to be in a room with all these tastemakers. And that’s ignoring all the articles on who may be the face of Apple Watch.
The tech press has often done worse. Most of the “reviews” are more press releases, regurgitating everything that Apple said its keynote and adding little else. Both worlds could learn something from the considered views of these two watch bloggers.