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How the Apple Watch raises the bar for first generation products
One week on from its arrival, using the Apple Watch has reminded Mark Wilson why Apple always get their first generation product launches…
One week on from its arrival, using the Apple Watch has reminded Mark Wilson why Apple always get their first generation product launches right: it’s all in the craft.
By Mark Wilson, Founder Partner, Wilson Fletcher
After my first week with the Apple Watch, there have been the kind of ups and downs that you expect with any new technology generation. Some things, like Siri and Maps, have been unexpectedly good. Others, like the extolled ‘intimate’ person-to-person messaging, somewhat disappointing.
Overall, however, the experience has been remarkable: less for what it is now, than what it means for the future of devices like it.
One thing that is apparent after using the Apple Watch for even a few days: the level of craftsmanship that has gone into this product is extraordinary. I’d argue that it is the most polished first-generation product I’ve ever used, and I’ve used my fair share. The attention that has been paid to some of the smallest details — the tactile feel of the crown, or the haptics, or my favourite so far, the way you customise tiny elements on the watch faces — is testament to how much care went into making this product.
At times, wearing the Apple Watch feels like having a little bit of the future strapped to your wrist.
It’s all about craftsmanship: honing details and sweating the small stuff. Yes, that’s something that Apple is well known for by now, but what you realise when you wear one of these things for a while is how a wearable — a device that is attached to you all day long — makes this level of care more meaningful than ever before. You’re closer to it, for longer, and consequently you notice the finer details more.
To fulfil their potential to be the next great mass-market technology, wearables must be better than everything that has come before them. Better on every level, from their material construction to the way they behave.
At times, wearing the Apple Watch feels like having a little bit of the future strapped to your wrist. It’s part Thunderbirds, part James Bond. It has that slight whiff of witchcraft about it — it shouldn’t be possible, but it is.
Of course there have been other smart watches before it (I’ve enjoyed owning a Pebble since its Kickstarter days) but this gives us our first glimpse of what will be needed to really make this product category as essential as a smartphone one day. Some of that lies in it not really being a watch at all; in the same way that we use our smartphones for very little to do with the phone part these days, so we will progressively use the device on our wrist for less and less timekeeping.
But more than anything else, I think much of the future success for wearables lies in good old fashioned craftsmanship: an amazing digital experience wrapped in a beautiful enclosure. I’m sure the great Swiss luxury watchmakers will argue that they’ve always known this.