Eleven years ago, after Bill Gates personally introduced Microsoft smartwatches at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, I wrote a column in WatchTime entitled “Honk If You Want a Computer On Your Wrist!” The column asked the following simple question: “Does anyone really want this contraption?”
My answer in the column, admittedly inelegantly stated, was “Whaddya, stupid? Of course not!”
Forgive the immodesty, but I was right. Microsoft smartwatches, produced in conjunction with Citizen, Fossil, Suunto and Swatch, were all total flops. Since then, despite the arrival of various and sundry smartwatches (Pebble, i’m Watch, Martian, Galaxy Gear and more), very few people have shown any sign that they want a computer on the wrist.
We are now arrived at what is surely the moment of truth for smartwatches. On Sept. 9 mighty Apple unveiled the Apple Watch, described by the New York Times as “a miniature computer strapped around the wrist.” Finally, once and for all, we are about to get the answer to what I believe is still the fundamental question about smartwatches: Does anyone really want these contraptions? If Apple can’t convince Americans to buy smartwatches, no one can, and the smartwatch adventure will be over.
We’ll have to wait until next year for the answer since the watches don’t go on sale until the first quarter of 2015. In the meantime, let’s assess the pros and cons of the Apple Watch in terms of some crucial smartwatch criteria.
Previous smartwatches have been panned because of their poor design. “Geek chic,” their manufactures have learned, has a limited appeal. Apple has designed its watch with a traditional rectangular watch design, and the early reviews are positive. “The device is stunning to look at,” wrote Farhad Manjoo in the The New York Times, “with a variety of faces and watchbands that bear more in common with luxury jewelry than with gadgets.”
Tim Bradshaw noted in the Financial Times, “The impression was that here was finally a smartwatch that feels more like jewelry than technology.” Whether regular consumers (particularly women) share the fashion sense of technology reporters remains to be seen. But style-wise, Apple Watch has outdone its rivals.
Switzerland, January 17th, 2011 – Snow-covered mountains, skiers on the slopes, must-have accessories: hat, mittens… Except for the happy few who attended the fabulous event organized in Geneva by the Swiss Maison d’Horlogerie Baume & Mercier on the occasion of the SIHH (Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie