Liv's Beehive

Trying on Apple Watch

Monday 13 April 2015

This past Sunday, I took a trip to the nearest Apple Store for an Apple Watch try-on appointment. Obviously, spending about a minute and a half with each model isn't enough to write any meaningful reviews, but I do have a few thoughts about the models I tried on.

38mm vs. 42mm

It could just be that the images on the Apple site are massive, but the watches seemed much smaller than I expected in real life.

I was swayed by the fact that the Leather Loop only comes in the 42mm size, and Apple's own acknowledgment that the 42mm gets better battery life, so the watches I tried on were the 42mm.

The difference between the two sizes isn't huge, but I didn't actually try on any 38mm watches, so I can't speak for what the difference is like when they're on your wrist.

Milanese Loop

The Milanese Loop is the band I thought was my favourite, going by the images on the website. However, after seeing it in real life, my opinion changed dramatically.

I'm not sure why I thought it would be any different, but there's no getting around the fact that the Milanese is made entirely of metal. It's very shiny, especially under the bright Apple Store lighting — too shiny for me. I'm not a big jewellery fan (says the person spending hundreds of pounds on a watch), so a big shiny bracelet around my wrist isn't for me.

I'm not really sure how the band could be improved — the main benefit is that the entire surface is magnetic, so it's "infinitely adjustable", as Apple is so fond of saying. That doesn't really work with anything other than metal.

Black Leather Loop

This was my second favourite band from the website, but again I was in for disappointment.

As others like Marco Arment and Stephen Hackett have said, it's such a thin leather cover over the magnets that it feels hard. It also seemed to rustle and crackle when I moved with it on my wrist.

The other problem I had was that it just plain didn't fit me; at the correct tightness, the end of the strap was hanging over the watchface by about two segments. I think this was just due to only the Large size being available to try on, as the other 42mm bands fit me fine.

An issue that both the Milanese and the Leather Loops would share is that I would probably find myself playing with the magnetic attachment, repeatedly peeling it off and attaching it back again. While that's not going to break anything (you'd hope), it would be distracting at the very least.

Classic Buckle

Before getting to the store, I had no real intention of trying on, or buying, the Classic Buckle. I thought I'd give it a go once I was there, because I had some spare time during the 15 minute appointment.

The leather feels quite nice, but again it felt quite hard. Not as hard as the Leather Loop with its built-in magnets, but still not as soft as you'd expect leather to be.

The buckle has the same flaw that all buckles have — if your wrist happens to fall in between two of the available sizes, you have to compromise by either wearing it too loose or too tight.

Space Grey Sport

This was another one that I wasn't planning on trying on, but reading some people's reviews of the watch where they said it may be a good idea to go for the cheaper model for the first generation, I thought I'd give it a go.

The fluoroelastomer band feels incredibly soft. In fact I'd say that my expectations for the leather and the Sport band were switched; the leather was about as hard as I expected the Sport to be, and the Sport was as soft as I expected the leather to be.

The pin style fastening is quite difficult to use when you've never touched it before. (It doesn't help that I wasn't allowed to put any of the watches on myself, until the second time I tried the Sport.)

The problem was that the store employee "helping" me was clearly afraid I'd drop it if I tried to put it on without his help. While I tried to fasten the pin, he held the watch body to keep it on my wrist. In fact, the way I put on a watch is to hold the strap between my arm and my body while I mess around with the fastening with both hands; if I had been allowed to try this, I'm sure I would have found the Sport band much easier to fasten.

Sweat may be a small problem, but it's a problem with my current "normal" watch too, and that has a leather strap.

The Space Grey coloured aluminium is, in my opinion, the nicest looking watch body. It's not as shiny as the steel model is, and it doesn't look as plasticky as the silver Sport. Granted, I didn't get to see the Space Black steel model, but I don't think it would have been nice enough to convince me to drop nearly a thousand pounds on it.

The end result

After trying on the four models, I ended up placing an order for the Space Grey Sport. The main reason is the colour of the watch body, and the fact that the Sport band actually felt the nicest. The price difference helps a bit too, but that wasn't my main concern at all.

Unlike some others, my trip to the store reinforced my decision to buy an Apple Watch, rather than making me second-guess myself. Getting to actually play around with watchOS was fun, and it isn't nearly as complicated as some people are making it out to be.

If you're not sure about an Apple Watch, I'd advise you to go for a try-on appointment, just to see what it's like to have one on your wrist. As always, these are my opinions, and mine alone; your opinions will almost certainly be different once you've seen the watch in person.