On-the-spot Apple Watch decisions
After years over writing about the once-rumored "iWatch," I was finally able to strap an Apple Watch to my wrist over the weekend in a one-on-one fitting.
An Apple Genius walked me through the different bands, colors and sizes in an appointment at the Apple Store in Los Angeles. Booking a timeslot online is the only sure way to demo the iPhone-compatible smartwatch, though walk-ins are possible at less busy stores.
Here’s everything I figured out during my 15-minute window with the Apple Watch.
1. I got the entry-level Sport
I ended up buying the 42mm Apple Watch Sport in white at midnight through the Apple Store website, or technically the Apple Store’s iPad app since the browser-based site was down at first.
However, I thought about switching up my order during the fitting, as I tried on all of the other tempting styles. I decided against upgrading my launch configuration – for now.
My thought: It’s better to have a waterproof band all of the time – for the gym, a sweat-filled run, etc – than a leather band that’s right to wear some of the time. The Sport band is exactly that. Its aluminum case is also 30% lighter than the heavier stainless steel watch.
The price, $349 (£299, AU$499) for the 38mm size and $399 (£339, AU$579) for the 42mm size, is right for me to start out with. Except for the Apple Watch Edition bands that have gold in their clasps, I can buy most of the bands separately at a later date.
2. I added less expensive metal Milanese Loop
Like almost everyone else I have polled, I had wanted a classy looking all-metal band, like the stainless steel Link Bracelet. But that starts at $949 (£819, AU$1,399), and the better-looking space black version starts at $1,049 (£899, AU$1,549).
Experiencing it in person, I found that there’s a good reason for those prices. There are 100 pieces that make up this band, including a secure butterfly clasp, and it takes Apple nine hours to cut. It’s incredibly easy to adjust out the links on-the-fly too.
But then I tried on the Milanese Loop. While mine won’t arrive until May, its chainlink design looks just as sophisticated in my eyes, and appears snazzy against a dress shirt. Again, I can always fall back to the Sport band at the gym.
The best part is, it’s about three times cheaper at $149 (£129, AU$229) for the band alone. A Link Bracelet, to contrast, is $449 (£379, AU$679) for the silver version. The even pricier black Link Bracelet is unavailable to purchase separately so far.
My style often times comes down to savings. After seeing the Milanese Loop in person, I’m okay with that.
3. 42mm vs 38mm: I went with the bigger Apple Watch
Fittings are important because they give you a chance to try on both Apple Watch sizes: the smaller 38mm and the larger 42mm. I went big before I went home.
I suggest that if you are leaning toward the 42mm size, then you should go for it too. It isn’t all that big on my small-to-medium wrist and there’s a little more space to Force Touch.
Everyone who wants one should be able to wear a reasonably-sized smartwatch.
4. Steel bands and aluminum Sport don’t clash
This was a big worry. Luckily, the aluminum Apple Watch Sport case doesn’t clash with the stainless steel bands as much as I had expected. It didn’t end up looking bad at all.
I had been afraid of buying into the Sport collection because my thinking was that the duller aluminum gray may look awkward if I upgraded the band to a stainless steel Milanese Loop or Link Bracelet.
I once got called out by someone in high school years ago for wearing Adidas-branded socks with Nike sneakers. Really? No one is going to call you out for owning the aluminum Sport case and a stainless steel band. It’s even less obvious.
5. I got an extra charger
The wisest thing I did during checkout at the Apple Store was order an extra charger. Each watch comes with one magnetic charger, but trust me that’s not enough.
Think about it. How many iPhone chargers do you have now? Probably more than one and yet you still go hunting, possibly cursing, throughout the house, looking for one at various outlets.
At $29 (£25, AU$45) for the 1m cable and and $39 (£29, AU$59) for the longer 2m cable, it’s an easy purchase after dropping so much money on an Apple Watch.
With 18-hour battery life, it’s even more important to own two. I’ll keep in my apartment and an extra in my TechRadar backpack or my girlfriend’s place. Wait, I now need a third.
It’s all about personal choice
There are 38 different Apple Watch band designs, colors and sizes. That’s a lot of choice – more than Apple has given us in recent years, with three shades of the iPhone, iPad and new MacBook.
Maybe it’s more than some people can handle, but with a fitting appointment, I was able to feel at ease about my midnight splurge and in-store add-ons.
Just don’t forget to actually make an appointment. Don’t expect to find many walk-ins during high noon when everyone else wanders into a busy Apple Store during their lunch hour.
More Apple Watch fitting photos
Apple Watch Sport in black and white are among the most popular choices. They’re inexpensive starting at $349 (£299, AU$499).
Don’t expect long lines in the store for the Apple Watch launch. The company is requiring appointments for fittings and purchases. So long, diehard campers.
This is the box in which Apple Stores keep their Sport and stainless steel Watch collections. In addition to holding ten watches, it contains ten wireless chargers.
The 18-karat gold Apple Watch Edition was being shown off in back at the time of our tour. Plenty of A-list Hollywood clients were likely checking out this version at the Los Angeles store.
While gold Watch Edition fittings happened in the back of the store, Apple still prominently displayed all eight variants behind glass.
It was also behind glass at a smaller Apple Store (that didn’t have Watch Editions fittings) we visited later on in the day. So, you can still look with your eyes, not with your hands at various stores.
I didn’t end up getting a Mickey Mouse watch as I kid, so this toe-tapping gem may end up being my favorite watch face for a little while.
Note: The Apple Watch that Geniuses put around your wrist plays a non-interactive video loop. To test out the some key features, look for this Force Touch-friendly display.
Without an iPhone paired, there are some disabled features, like Camera Remote, but it gives you a good idea of how the user interface works.
Decisions, decisions. Of course, you have time considering the Apple Watch sales have pushed the delivery for current orders back to the summer.
- Complete breakdown: Apple Watch price guide