So Apple finally introduces the Apple Watch and everyone is going into frenzy. As I've said it many times before, I'm not the target market for any smart wearables. However, that isn't going to stop anyone else in my household from getting one.
For the first time in a long time, my wife was fixated and I can see she is very interested; especially in the gold red strap one pictured above. She is not a watch wearer despite being married to a watch collector. I've bought her many high-end Swiss watches and she simply doesn't wear them. She isn't into tech gadgets either. She is happily content with her hand-me down electronics from me.
This is were most men have lost sight of what is happening. Everyone is debating how fugly it looks. Everyone is comparing it to the Motorola 360. It isn't about your personal taste. Taste and style is subjective. I've been in watch debates since 1994 on Usenet. Rolex vs Omega, Breguet vs Patek, Zenith vs IWC. So I'm a veteran at this and I've learned from a long, long,long time ago, taste is entirely subjective. Having said that, I think the Apple watch has a strong chance of succeeding in the mall watch category from $300-$1200. The High End Swiss watches ($4,000 and up) I enjoy won't be affected. I strongly believe this but the low-end is ripe for the taking.
Why? Build quality, presentation and marketing.
I am very impressed with the website and overall presentation.
The build quality is impeccable. I am studying the details. The raised and bezeled sapphire glass, the edge chamfer, the grain of the matte SS on the bracelet, the meshed Milanese strap,etc. These are all top notch detailing that no one in this market (Smartwatch) has. Pebble doesn't have it. Nor does Samsung and Motorola. Also, for the first time, I never saw an Apple product that lists material properties until now. This is what the Swiss do. They boldly note the SS is 316L (high grade SS steel found on Omegas, Panerai,etc). For comparison, Samsung, LG uses 304 steel. Motorola is absent in this disclosure. They also note the use of Sapphire; the pre-requisite for a premium timepiece. Note my use of the word premium instead of luxury. These are two distinct markets.
The premium market consist of fashion brands. These are Movado, Michael Kors, Armani, Gucci, Burberry and the likes. These are brands with absolutely zero horological domain expertise. They often use cheap $5-10 quartz movement with cheap B-O-M material cost and sell watches in the $300-1200 market. We call these "mall watches." They're often found at department stores rather than high end watch boutiques. The Apple watch competes with these. Yes, it competes with Samsung and Motorola but on the grander scope of things, based on the projected price point, the "mall watch" is the target. I strongly believe this because their recent executive hires are people with retail channel distribution in the luxury/premium markets. I am guessing they want to sell this at airport kiosks and high end malls around the world - Frankfurt, Dubai, Tokyo. Why else would they poach a Tag Huer and enlist Burberry's top exec? They invited fashion bloggers, creative directors of most fashion rags to the Apple watch unveiling during the busiest Fashion week in New York. While the bottom of the pole reporters were in New York, you can see many of the Creative Editors of Vogue, Vogue UK, Marie Claire, InstaStyle in Cupertino.
Back to my wife. She was fixated and her eyes were all on the gold models. Some of you guys out there are still stuck on the round circle and do not think a square watch will work. Well, let me present to you the Cartier Santos. A $5,000 watch. Women love this watch. They have no problem with rectangular time pieces.
Here is the Santos in a sports setting.
Now look at the Apple watch in the marketing promo. On women. I assume these are the 38mm models.
They're not Cartiers. My wife would never spend $5000 on a Cartier (she has no problem with me spending that on my mens' watches). Simply, she doesn't see the value. However, a $1000 gold case and red leather deployant strap is a different thing altogether. The Apple watch looks inoffensive. It is also highly customizable. In short, it hits the target market she is in. The Premium, fashion soccer mom market.
My point is this, this may not be attractive to you (or me), it is attractive to others. Now, I showed her the Motorola 360 to get her opinion. I showed her a picture of something she has context with - 40mm sports watch. Here is a picture I found on the internet that gives a good comparison. That is a 46mm Motorola 360 next to what appears to be a Rolex Sub (or knockoff) which is 40mm.
Just for context, 40mm Rolex on Charlize Theron. This is a "large's" man's watch. To her, the Moto 360 is comically too big. This is before she even put eyes on the flat tire screen.
It will be interesting to see how this all plays out. I am starting to think Apple may be on to something. Despite my Luddite attachments to my Rolex and Omegas, I think there is a market here. It may not appeal to me but I can see it appealing to my significant others.
Update: Here is a really good post why Square/Rectangular screens are better for swatch watches. It is a very compelling argument. You basically need a larger circle to cover equal amount of content when compared to an equal size rectangular screen. With the smaller the screen (38mm for women), touch UI will be exponentially harder to work with. This validates the use of a digital crown in the design process.