Last night at midnight I pre-ordered one: 38mm sport version in space gray with the default black band.
I also setup an appointment at the Apple store to try them on after work, these are the ones I tried:
- 38mm sport with white band
- 42mm stainless steel with the milanese loop band
- 42mm stainless steel with the black leather loop band
- 42mm stainless steel with the link bracelete
I also looked at the leather modern buckle and classic buckle, but didn’t try them on.
My very first impression when I looked at them behind a glass: they are smaller that I expected. My next impression when I tried them on: they are lighter than I expected.
The aluminium model
The combination of the aluminium and the rubber band doesn’t feel cheap at all, the rubber is very flexible but not grippy. This makes the whole combination almost disappear and you stop feeling it on your wrist.
Until you get the taps: it’s as if an invisible someone poked you in the wrist with their figner, it’s a weird sensation.
I didn’t try a 42mm aluminium which I regret because I can’t compare the difference in weight.
The stainless steel model
That not-being-there-at-all sensation disappeared completely with this model. It feels heavier in the wrist and you definitely notice it.
I have not used a watch in a long time but my expectation for all the models was how this one felt. This model feels heftier than the aluminum one and if the band is loose enough you can feel it move around the wrist, the link bracelet felt like that but the other ones can be adjusted to prevent this.
The milanese loop has a very strong magnet and it took me a couple of tries to separate it to adjust it around my wrist which means that once you adjust it, it won’t go anywhere.
The leather loop band felt very safe too with a similarly strong magnet. This band was also my candidate to buy as a more formal option, but to my dismay it’s not available in 38mm.
The try on experience is about the hardware
I got to the store earlier than expected but they had free spots available so I didn’t have to wait. I’m not sure what to make of that, maybe people don’t know that service is available.
The employee unlocks a hidden drawer with their iPod and takes out the model you want to try. When I saw that, I could hear Tim Cook in my mind saying “only Apple would think of something like that.”
The watches were in a video loop showing the main features but you couldn’t really interact with the device. From time to time the watches would make a sound or generate a tap on your wrist.
My guess is that Apple wants you to focus on the device and the bands. And it worked, I played a while with the buttons and the digital crown but then the entire focus was on the weight and the bands.
The digital crown didn’t provide any resistance at all, and trying to spin it with two fingers (pinching it with the thumb and index) felt a bit cumbersome, any smaller and it would be impossible.
During the try on experience, the Apple employee kept reminding me that I could check out the software on the devices available in another part of the store. Almost as an afterthought I went to check them out expecting mostly to check out how apps work and get some ideas for mine.
But using the device with the OS turned on made a big difference, every scroll with the digital crown generates haptic feedback when you reach the end of a list. This gives the digital crown a whole new dimension that I didn’t get during the try on.
All in all, the experience was very nice. The Apple employees were friendly and helpful, they even brought us a water bottle.
The devices all felt solid and well built, the sport model gave me the same impression that I got when I picked up an iPhone 5 for the first time: this should not be this light.
I bought the 38mm aluminum version for economic reasons and this experience confirmed I chose the right one (even if for the wrong reason).
I’m sure the aluminum version will be a favorite between people that currenlty don’t wear watches. The stainless versions felt like an actual watch in your wrist so it will be a matter of preference to watch connoisseurs.
I was a bit worried about the difference in sizes when it comes to app development but after looking at them, I don’t think it will make that much of a difference.
I just hope Apple sells lots of them so we get a big marketplace.