When I was about 12 years old, my brother Michael came home one evening and showed me and my other brother the new radio antenna he had installed on his car. It extended and collapsed. I asked him if it extended automatically when he turned the radio on and he answered, "No, I have to push a button."
Stephen was surprised by his answer, "Who are you? George Jetson? How is pushing a button not automatic?"
Explaining my appreciation for the apple watch may sound a bit George Jetson-y. It isn't plowing fields for me so I can eat. It does nothing that I couldn't live without but it has made some very small, very nice improvements in my life.
What's a Watch?
Several decades ago men used pocket watches to tell the time. My father has his Father's pocket watch. Engraved with the monogram: KHE. If I were an only child I would look forward to possessing it one day. I don't know who decided to strap a watch to one's wrist but that idea caught on and wrist watches became a thing. Being able to glance at your wrist to know the time had a lot of staying power but eventually many of us went back to the pocket watch in the form of a cellular phone to give us the time.
I have always liked watches. In elementary school and Jr. High I remember owning and loving my wristwatch of choice: The Shark Freestyle. I owned a neon green one with a bright yellow/green cloth strap. It has a stopwatch, countdown timer, it knew the date and the day of the week, it beeped on the hour. I used it to time things, to wake up. It had a light for telling time in darkness. But I also appreciated how it beeped as you changed modes and would make a different tone for the main time face so I could use it without looking. I remember becoming so connected to it that when people would ask me any kind of simple question like "How are you doing?" or "How old are you?" I would glance at my watch. It was a silly habit but I didn't mind.
As I became a young man I wished for a luxury watch. An Omega, Tag Heuer, Rolex. All the watches like these cost upwards of $5,000 and I was comfortable with the idea that I'd never purchase one. I admired them from a distance.
I owned just one of the watches pictured above.
I purchased an auto-winding imitation Rolex in Mexico, which was dubbed "Rolexico". I enjoyed it but it slowly fell apart and stopped working. I also owned and enjoyed a couple fossil watches. Eventually I stopped wearing my watches for two reasons: 1. they were metal and would scratch my metal Macbook Pros, and 2. I used my phone or computer to tell me the time.
I was excited to try the Apple watch and feel very lucky to have received mine on April 24th. I purchased the 42mm Sport in space gray. I like how it looks and I really like how the band feels. I tried on a steel version with the link bracelet and the Milanese loop and liked them but I feel that the sport watches are more true in their being a piece of technology and I feel a slight sense that that steel Apple watches are trying a little too hard to be jewelry. A watch is both technology and jewelry and I expect future apple watches to become more beautiful. For now I think the sweet spot is Apple Watch Sport.
I planned to leave for a camping trip the Friday night that my watch was scheduled to be delivered. Our UPS deliveries usually come later than my planned departure time so I expected to not actually have my watch until Saturday. The UPS man came several hours early. Goodie!
The box was heavier than I expected and the packaging was just splendid. I paired it to my phone and started trying to figure it out. I wasn't sure how it would fit into my life but I started using it to tell the time and that was a good start.
APPLE WATCH IS A WATCH TOO
Within hours of my watch's delivery I was in the car with my son Asher on our way to the Tonto National forrest. There would be no cell phone service there and I wondered how that would affect the watch's operation. We arrived at the campsite an hour before dark, set up our tent and went on a little hike together. I checked the time now and then but knew that now was not the time to be fiddling around on my new dingus. We enjoyed the campfire with our group and Asher went to bed around 10:00. I read for a couple hours before deciding to go to sleep. I emptied my pockets and got into the sleeping bag. My watch's battery still had 50% of its battery capacity. I was about to take it off and felt a twinge of regret that I had to take it off. After wearing it for about 10 hours I didn't want to remove it. I liked it. I then realized that I didn't have to take it off. In fact if I continued to wear it through the night it would be a convenient way to know what time it was when I would wake up throughout the night. I'm not good at sleeping while camping. I appreciated being able to know the time without having to reach out of my warm sleeping bag for my phone.
After a day and throughout my first week with the watch I started to see that it was really good at three things: Giving me bits of information at a glance, notifications, and being an adaptable watch.
It is not hard to take my phone out of my pocket but it is easier not to. My watch can tell me the time but it can also tell me other things that I'm used to finding out from my phone. It can tell me the weather, the number of steps I've taken, it can tell me if I have any new notifications. Getting my phone out of my pocket is the first step to getting this information. The next step is to wake it, sometimes I use my thumbprint to unlock my phone but often it doesn't work for me and I then have to swipe to unlock, entering my code, then launching an app. It is such a simple thing and saying that I don't need to do that as often anymore sounds a little like the script to an infomercial (Are you sick and tired of taking that heavy phone out of your pocket every time it buzzes?). On the watch I just look, and sometimes make a few swipes to get the appropriate screen. I know it sounds tiny but the convenience really adds up.
I wasn't sure if getting notifications on my wrist would be a good thing. It sounded like it could be good. After a week of use I can now declare that it is good. You can allow notifications to show up on your wrist on a per-app basis but since I already have my notifications set up to a minimal setting I haven't needed to perform much further limiting. The first thing I noticed about notifications is they are silent. You feel them like a vibration but the phone does not buzz like a phone. In order to hear it I have to hold it about 4 inches from my ear. I am a quiet person and I appreciate the silence. The second thing Apple has done really well is that I'm not getting notified on two devices. The notifications come to my wrist and my phone does not buzz. This is excellent execution and it has been working flawlessly.
I use watches to tell the time and the Apple Watch does that very well. For the first few days I mostly used the "X-Large" face but for the past few days I have found myself using the "Utility" face more often. My utility face has a single complication enabled at the bottom where I have a timer. Being a stop watch and having countdown timers is another other aspect of being a watch that I appreciate but didn't anticipate. I use countdown timers with my kids a lot (3 more minutes in the bath, etc.). I'd use Siri or the Clock app on my phone but now, you guessed it, it's on my wrist. It's great. Dad, Time me how long it takes to do this page of math home work.
Ready, set, go!
Evaluating my Apple Watch has been an interesting and enjoyable experience for me. Using the stopwatch and countdown features has reminded me of the many features I enjoyed on my watches growing up. I'm reminded that I have enjoyed all the watches I've owned and this Apple Watch is another wrist-worn gadget in that lineup.