After last week’s launch and ensuing slew of articles, I wanted to share a few articles that I found about Apple Watch from outside the tech world. I promise that this will be my final Apple post for a while.
First, two different articles from the fashion industry. The first article expressed fashion’s general opinion of tech wearables: “If a tech company expects the consumer to wear an item every single day, it has to be beautiful as well as useful. What the gadget actually does is ultimately secondary to how the gadget looks and feels.” Seems to me that the tech industry is the exact opposite, placing features and technical specifications above design in many products. Apple, of course, has been the exception to this rule creating beautifully designed and crafted technical products all along, which is a large part of why they are so widely admired. However, the emphasis on beauty before features still surprised me.
The second article, this one from the New York Times, talked about the various band and case options. In the tech world we’re pleased when given three different metal colors for a phone. In fashion, three isn’t even a start: “Apple is billing the watch as its “most personal device ever,” because aside from all those straps, you can also swap among 11 watch faces (normal, butterfly and Mickey Mouse, for example). The funny thing is, while I understand why they find this sort of choice extraordinary in the tech world, it’s par for the course in fashion, which points up some of the gulf between the two sectors; What they find revolutionary makes us want to yawn.” I admit, I thought having 18 different straps with 3 different Watch “collections” was more than enough.
Then, I read a take on the Watch from The Watch Guy, someone who understands watches, and what makes a watch an heirloom. He looked at Apple’s Watch and compared it to other expensive, quality watches and found some great things, such as the quality at its price point: “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.”
He also made a two points I found interesting, one trivial and one that explains the emotion associated with expensive watches. The first point is that the Watch failed the cuff-test: “ the Apple Watch doesn’t fit under my shirt cuff without serious effort, if at all. I believe that great design should not disrupt daily life, and a watch that doesn’t fit under a shirt sleeve is missing something.” That’s a point that must be important to many potential buyers and I wouldn’t have thought of it in a million years.
His second point was about the life-cycle limitations of the Apple Watch when compared to analog watches: “Those who love, and wear, mechanical watches tend to be in a slightly higher income bracket. They tend to want things that are beautifully made with great purpose – in a nutshell, Apple products. But what makes the millions of us who would never trade a Rolex in for an Apple is the emotion brought about by our watches – the fact that they are so timeless, so lasting, so personal. Nothing digital, no matter if Jony Ive (or Marc Newson) designed it, could ever replace that, if for no other reason than sheer life-cycle limitations. My watches will last for generations; this Apple Watch will last for five years, if we’re lucky.” I couldn’t agree more.
In closing, I give you my product mantra yet again: Know Thy User and You Are Not Thy User! Look at the products you love from other perspectives.