Apple just completed their annual Apple Event, and among other things they introduced the Apple Watch.
While I'm not necessarily endorsing it, because my opinion of "smart watches" is that they, like the tuning fork and quartz watch before it, will never be able to replace a mechanical watch when it comes to overall style, luxury and horological satisfaction, but thanks to the introduction of the Apple Watch, and only the Apple Watch, I do think smart watches are here to stay.
This is because the Apple Watch is unlike all other smart watches, the same way the original iPhone was unlike all other phones.
And without going through all of the techy stuff it can do, I do want to discuss 4 major features that truly set it apart (for me):
1. Operating System - The Apple Watch OS was specifically designed to be used on a 38mm to 42mm screen, the two available watch sizes of the Apple Watch. It takes advantage of the curved sapphire glass, but more importantly how apps are arranged are different than the grid system on the iPhone OS. Instead, apps are arranged like a cluster of stars in a galaxy. And you arrange the apps in a pattern that suits you, so the ones you use most are closest, etc. As your app collection grows, the OS expands just like a galaxy of stars expands to a universe with multiple galaxies. You can easily move around your app universe swiping your finger around.
2. The Crown - Apple reinvented the crown in a way that is so obvious, it makes one wonder why no one did it before. The main motivation behind the reinvention is the fact that a 38mm screen would be too small to rely just on the typical iPhone finger gestures like pinching and swiping. If it did, those gestures would actually block your line of sight. So, with the Apple Watch crown, one rotates the crown back and forth to zoom in and zoom out. This is particularly useful while using the Maps app. But in other apps, it's a way of scrolling up and down too. Press the crown in and it takes you to your home screen, just like the home button on an iPhone. Brilliant!
3. The Gold Case - It's often been said that "Steel is the new Gold", and it's true. And one of the reasons why is because gold is such a soft material. So, if a watch is available in steel as well, then steel is the better choice. But with the Apple Watch, which is also available in an 18K gold version, the gold was engineered to be twice as hard/strong as regular 18K gold, making it much more practical in everyday use. It's an innovation that really makes me wonder why actual watch companies, especially those like Patek Philippe, Jaeger LeCoultre, etc., haven't thought of this already. And my feeling is this will be so innovative, it won't be long before we really do start seeing companies like Patek, etc., adopting similar "hard" gold.
4. Price. The Apple Watch comes in at a very interesting price point. The Apple Watch will start at $349, which puts it right in the middle of the "beater" watch category. This is key, because an Apple Watch will never replace one's Speedmaster or Calatrava, but at a starting price of $349 in hard steel or anodized aluminum, it might replace one's G-Shock.
The final thing I will say is that I find it interesting that Apple refers to it's smart watch as 'watch', dropping the 'smart' from it's name. It also didn't use their traditional 'i' as in "iWatch", which many people thought it'd be called.
To me, this is Apple's way of saying they're serious about making a watch and not just another device one wears on their wrist. Something their competition did and failed miserably.
It's also another example why Apple is the standard bearer in the tech world, and I suppose only time will tell what this product's effect will be on the watch world.