VodkaPundit

Nice Launch, Tim -- Don't Get Cocky

The clasp that outsmarted the VodkaPundit, again and again.

The clasp that outsmarted the VodkaPundit, again and again.

Best estimate is that Apple sold nearly 1,000,000 Apple Watches just in the US on launch day, with expectations to sell between three and five million this quarter. If memory serves, it took the company about 70 days to sell the first million iPhones, and about a month to sell the first million iPads.

So, for a new product category, there’s no denying it’s been a big success — so far. While I can’t seem to locate the exact post, I’m with Jim Dalrymple that the real test for the Watch’s success will come in a few months. That’s when we’ll know the answer to the question: Are people actually still wearing and using them? If so, then that 3-5 million estimate looks low to me. If not, then Tim Cook has some ‘splainin to do.

Melissa and I did make it to our local Apple Store this weekend to sample all the new goodies. First impression? These are seriously well-made watches. If the guts were filled with timeless Swiss movements instead of limited lifetime electronics, I’d say the Swiss would have some serious worrying to do.

Second impression was that while thicker than I’d prefer personally, neither the 38mm or 42mm is too big or bulky. In fact, either size looked pretty good even on my skinny wrists.

Melissa was off-put at first, trying on the smaller watch with the Milanese loop bracelet. The thing wouldn’t sit still on her wrist, making it look bulkier than it actually is. She also complained it wasn’t comfortable. However, when she tried different models with either the fluoroelastomer or leather bracelets, the problem went away. There’s a reason Apple is encouraging customers to try on as many models as they like, and there it is.

There’s also a learning curve for the new interface, but I didn’t have any trouble at all figuring it out over the course of a couple of minutes. It works as advertised with all those Apple-y “oooh!” flourishes, but the Watch won’t get seriously interesting until the app developers have their way with it.

A few other brief impressions.

The butterfly-style latch on the stainless steel is a work of genius — but it might be a little too smart. There’s a learning curve to closing the thing, and I never did clear it. The only way I could latch it was to turn my wrist upside down and press the watch face against the table. Only then could I see and feel it well enough to make it work. Maybe that gets easier over time.

The Milanese loop is as pretty as I’d hoped, but the magnet is strong. That’s good for keeping it on your arm, not so good for removing the watch easily. Release the magnet, start removing the watch, and the first thing the magnet tries to do is re-attach itself — even from a distance. Again, I assume there’s a learning curve.

The leather bracelets are nice. Really nice. There’s a light pink/dove gray which my wife, who never wears pink, fell in love with. It will dress up or down with ease. I suspect that the stainless steel watch/pink-gray band is going to be a big holiday and birthday seller this year.

The aluminum Sport model is light, shockingly so. And the fluoroelastomer band is extremely soft and pleasant to touch.

There are no 18k gold Edition models available for sale or demo in Colorado, so we didn’t get to try those.

Overall impression? These are good watches — with a “but” and an “and.”

Let’s do the “but” first.

The Sport models would be overpriced, were it not for all the smartwatch features. Slap “CASIO” on the outside and put a cheap LCD screen under the crystal, and you’d have a $120 high-end digital watch. If you aren’t totally sold on smartwatches, don’t buy one of the Sport models just because they’re the cheapest and you want to see what all the fuss is about. Word is that the Sport model accounts for 60% of pre-orders so far, but I couldn’t recommend one to potential Apple Watch buyers on the basis of anything but price. Unless, of course, light weight is your primary concern.

And now the “and.”

The stainless steel Watch line has exactly the kind of quality and selection you’d expect from a $500-$1,000 traditional watch. You could spend the same money on something from Japan or Switzerland, and get a damn fine timepiece. Or you could give the money to Apple and get the world’s best smartwatch. Either way, if you’re seriously into watches or smartwatches, then it’s money well spent. However, I’m waiting to see how Jim Dalrymple’s three-month test pans out before I decide whether or not to splurge. Besides, shipping times have slipped into June and July, so there’s no rush to decide.

The Edition line is far too expensive to give any kind of review or recommendation — if you’re not a member of the “If You Have to Ask You Can’t Afford It Club,” then by all means, make the splurge. We’ll be seeing plenty of these on the wrists of Chinese businessmen’s wives and/or mistresses, some Hollywood types, and that’s probably about it.

Apple Watch is a solid first generation product, which fairly earns most of its complaints but none of the hate. (Yes, there is Apple Watch hate out there on the innerwebs. Weird.) First generation buyers will lose out on next year’s improvements, but like every other Apple device, it ought to maintain a high resale value.

Unless of course it ends up failing the Dalrymple Test, in which case Tim Cook really will have some ‘splainin to do.