After over two years of daily use, I recently decided to stop wearing my Apple Watch. It wasn’t a decision I took lightly, but so far, I have very few regrets. There is so much to like about the Apple Watch, and for a while it was easy to overlook its shortcomings. However, when I reached the reckoning, my mind was already made up. It was time for a change. Here’s why.
Call me old fashioned, but the primary purpose of a watch is to tell the time. To that end, the Apple Watch is one of the most accurate watches in the world, and it always will be because it is synced to the same atomic time server that your iPhone is connected to. Yet, under normal conditions, the Apple Watch display is off. By default, you can’t tell the time unless you wake the watch by flicking your wrist or tapping the screen, and I have lost count of the number of times this “feature” has failed me.
I know the Series 5 finally introduced an always-on display, but the five generations of Apple Watch that preceded it, (the original Apple Watch is Series 0), did not have that ability. In fact, Apple acknowledged how inconvenient the wrist flicks can be when, you guessed it, they introduced the always-on display on the Apple Watch Series 5.
Unsurprisingly, I have no such issues with a traditional watch. The “always-on“ display on my current watch can be more challenging to read in low-light locations, but for the vast majority of my day, I can check the time with no problems at all, and that is what I need most from a watch.
My Apple Watch is slow. When you use a touch screen device that launches apps, you expect it to open apps quickly and without delay. Some apps take more than ten seconds to launch. Some don’t launch within any kind of acceptable time limit and I have to quit and relaunch them to make them work.
It also does not work well with my Jabra 65t wireless earbuds. The earbuds work flawlessly with my iPhone, but the Apple Watch does not maintain a consistent connection when paired over Bluetooth. Now, I know that my Apple Watch is not the latest model, so I can’t expect it to perform like a new one, but Bluetooth connections are something that have worked well for many years now. I shouldn’t have to upgrade to the latest model for that to work, which takes me nicely to my next point.
Value for Money
Two years later, my Apple Watch is not nearly as usable as it used to be. Buying a replacement seems like the natural cure for my ailments, but $400 for a new Apple Watch is a lot of money, especially if I am only going to get another two or three years out of it before I start having the same kind of issues.
A decent mechanical, or even a quartz, watch can easily last you many years with no drop in performance, and although some traditional watches sell for thousands more than an Apple Watch, you don’t need to spend nearly that much to get a good, reliable watch. In fact, you could get two, three, or even four good watches for the same price as a new Apple Watch, which means it is essentially, a disposable smartwatch.
Then there is battery life. I mean, I get it. The Apple Watch does all kinds of amazing things, but you won’t get more than a day’s battery life out of it. It needs charged every night. While this is useful for checking the time at night on a bedside cabinet, I still find it inconvenient when traveling, and the proprietary charger means that it is even less convenient to charge on the go unless you carry a spare charging cable with you. Some days I still have 30% on my Apple Watch when I go to bed, while other days it has already switched to the Power Reserve mode that kicks in at 10% battery life.
The battery in a quartz watch typically needs changing every two to three years, and the watch I am wearing now, is a self winding watch. It uses the natural motions of my arm to wind the movement and keep everything ticking. It has no battery, and it will never need one. It has a 40-hour power reserve for when it is not being worn, and if it does stop ticking due to an extended absence from my wrist, a quick shake is all it needs to get it going again.
I don’t dislike the design of the Apple Watch, (especially the newer ones). However, I have never loved the designs that Apple created for watch faces. The choices are limited, many are a variation on the same theme, and others are just not very functional. What’s more, you can’t rely on the design sense of third-party developers, because Apple still refuses to let them create and sell Apple Watch faces. If you don’t like Apple’s watch faces, the best you can do is pick the one you dislike the least.
Contrast this with the traditional watch market. You might think that there are only so many designs you can create with a round or rectangular watch face, but that’s clearly not the case. Over a hundred years later, new designs are still being imagined and there are countless watch faces, (and sizes), available to the analog watch buyer.
I still wear my Apple Watch when I run or have some kind of scheduled exercise. For me, it still has value for those kinds of activities, and mostly works as it should. However, for my everyday watch, I will be wearing a traditional watch. Maybe a variety of traditional watches, but it will be a watch that I can rely on. A watch that doesn’t need charged. A watch that will probably work just as well five years from now, if not more.
I won’t be giving up an iPad or a MacBook any time soon, but my Apple Watch is not the necessity that it once was for me, and I’m okay with that. In fact, I am more than okay with that. I enjoy the variety, the designs, the intricacy, and the whimsy that is only available in mechanical watches. There are worse things to collect, right?