Apple Watch: Not a Review

April 10, midnight Pacific time,  rolled around and the Apple faithful around the world fired up their browsers so they could get an Apple Watch. It’s something of a conditioned behavior for the company’s fans on product pre-orders: Apple shuts down its online store hours before the event and when the appointed hour on the appointed date rolls around, they hit reload over and over and over again until the online Apple Store is up, running and taking orders.

I was doing the same thing — but I was on the hunt to set up a fitting appointment instead of placing an order. Basically, I wanted to touch though this time, and for the first time for an Apple product, you had to book a time to do that.

Don’t get me wrong. I want the Apple Watch. I’m not one of those people who are on the fence about it — I want this thing. I’ve wanted this thing since it was just a crazy rumor that only people who compulsively read Apple sites knew about. But the IRS wants my cash as well and let’s face it — the IRS is pretty scary.

The Apple Store loaded. After a few minutes of searching, I found a link and made an appointment on the Apple Watch’s Apple Store page. I thought the appointments would fill up as quickly as orders were for the watches. Nope, turns out I got the time I wanted later that day (2 pm).

I showed up at the Apple Store. No line, but it was easy to see which table the Apple Watch staff was working from. I asked someone standing by the table if I needed to check in, and was directed to someone else. I was introduced to the staff member who would help me out.

I’m not going to pretend that my 10 minutes with the watch is anything close to a review. The watches I tried on were all running a demo loop and, for some reason, they had to be worn upside down. They did have working samples available but they were probably bolted and superglued  to the table with a Hellfire-equipped drone circling overhead.

Anyway, the person who was assigned to me, I’ll call her Anna because I’m lousy at remembering names and I like palindromes, asked me what I wanted to see and what size I wanted to see them in. I told her I wasn’t sure about size, so could be she show me both?

She takes a look at my wrists and she says, “Fourty two. I mean, I could show you a 38, but it would be really small.” I’m not complaining and I’m sure there was some kind of specialized Apple-sponsored training for this sort of thing (determining wrist sizes). I was leaning toward the larger screen anyway because of the limited real estate. It’s also nice, for some reason, to know that I have big, manly wrists that scream 42 millimeters.

I asked to see the Apple Watch Sport and the Apple Watch (the stainless steel model), both in 42mm. There’s a definite heft to the Apple Watch, but once its on, it’s hard to tell the difference between the two. I also got lucky and felt the haptic tap of the Apple Watch’s notification when I strapped it on.

I know now why nearly every review raves about the tap. It’s there, but it’s subtle. It’s like a butler lightly tapping you because he has a note for you that you may or may not take from him. Your prerogative, guv’nah. My iPhone’s vibrating alert, in comparison, is like a two year old trying to get my attention because it wants me to buy a new Elmo thing for Christmas RIGHT NOW.

I felt a simulated heartbeat when I put on the Apple Watch. It seemed a little hokey, but I could see why this would be a big deal if you’re dating. I also tried the Milan Loop wrist band, as someone on the MacRumors forum raved that they should make underwear out of the stuff.

And it really was goddamned comfortable. It didn’t pull any hair and felt like…silk. They really should make underwear out of this stuff.

I tried on a other few bands (Link Bracelet — also comfortable, with excellent fit and finish; Leather Loop — feels like butter). I fumbled with my iPhone to take a photo of the Apple Watch on my wrist but it’s not working. Anna offered up to take the wrist selfie, and fired off a quick photo, the image you see above and which also ran on The Honolulu Star Advertiser.

“It’s like I’m living in the future!” I said half sincere, half-feigning sarcasm, because I didn’t want to seem too fan boyish (though it probably didn’t work). Anna smirked and said she had a hard time explaining it to her dad.

“He doesn’t even have an iPhone,” she added.

“Well that’ll make it difficult to use the watch.”

I asked her about seeing an Edition and jokingly added that my satisfaction depended on it. She took in good nature and said she didn’t have one. (She probably heard the joke a hundred times before.) But she did say the Apple Store at The Grove did stock them. I asked about ordering and online was the only way for the time being — I also got the feeling that it was the way it was going to be for a long time. I thanked her and she was off to fit her next customer.

I hung around to play around with the units on the table, which actually worked. One of the things users will have to get used to is the Force Touch aspect of the watch. I look at taps as a binary issue — tap or no tap. It’s now a continuum on the Apple Watch (and the new 13″ retina MacBook Pro and 12″ retina MacBook). It takes some time getting used to.

The Digital Crown is easier to use than I thought. Its action is smooth, but its firm enough that you wouldn’t have to worry about engaging it accidentally. (Also of note — I need more friends. These Apple demo units always seem to have lots of pre-loaded messages and contacts. I’m lucky if I text five people in a day.)

The watch faces are also extremely customizable and it looks like new faces can be added later. They’re easy to change and I suspect people will change them on the fly to suit the task at hand. Working out? Call up an information-heavy face. Going out for the night? Call up a classic chronometer.

This writeup isn’t about whether you should or shouldn’t buy the Apple Watch. Like I said, 10 minutes is not, in any way, enough time to draw those kinds of conclusions. I also think that at this point, people have drawn their own conclusions.

But when taken as a whole and with what little time I had, it made me want one even more than I did walking in. So if you know someone looking for a kidney, I’ve got a spare. Let’s talk.

Photo and arm hair by the author.

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