The problem with the Apple Watch.

Not cool.

Apple made tech the coolest thing on the planet, the hottest accessory, a symbol of status for everyone – accessible for school kids, your grandparents and everyone in between. The sleek design, intuitive usability and amazing functionality of their devices make them must-haves for so many. Their latest product line continues to do the job of linking everything in your life. However, looking at the Apple Watch, I see a problem. It’s just not that cool. And that’s not very Apple.

It has been talked about on Twitter, blogs and tech news sites for months. Everyone has waited with baited breath to see if the Apple entry to the smart watch market will inject the interest and competition that the category needs to take off. Alas, its arrival seems fairly muted. And that’s not very Apple.

The cold hard truth is that, it’s just not going to get you laid.

In phones and computers they’re the one. However, it’s competing on a very different level in watches. In the world of watches, Apple is not a premium brand, it’s got no credentials or status and it stands for very different values than many of the established watchmakers. Just put Apple up against brands like Tag Heuer, Rolex, Patek Philippe & Breitling. Which would you rather have on your wrist? What does each brand say about you?

A watch is as much a status symbol as anything else. I don’t believe people will be rushing to spend four (or five, or six) figures on an Apple watch. Even the most premium ‘Edition’ customers, I imagine will be looked on as having a bit more money than sense.

The proof is in the sales. When a new iPhone is launched I see one out on the tube, at a bar or restaurant within about a day but I am yet to see anyone in London wearing one. Even when I went into the Apple store last week there were equally as many people looking new Macbooks & iPods as there were huddled around the Apple Watch tables.

To its credit Apple is changing the fight, transforming the category, adding a new dimension to functionality. But a smart watch feels too ‘geeky’ and unnecessary for the mainstream at the moment. In time I will be proven wrong but this early incarnation still feels like its target is the overly fanatical, slightly geeky people who spend a bit too much time with their devices.

However, it also changes the time frame and consumption of the category. Traditionally a category which you would invest in and have one or maybe two timepieces for a minimum of a few years, some for a lifetime.

Indeed Patek Philippe brand has its infamous tag line, “You never actually own a Patek Philippe. You merely look after it for the next generation.”

By crashing tech with watches it brings two very different worlds together; one with an insatiable desire for development, upgrade and replacement and a category where products are designed to last and remain in daily use for years and years. It feels like an awkward match to me. I’m still holding out for a big pay day when I can splurge on a Panerai.

 

Will Rees-Hooper

03.07.15