About 18 months ago, I wrote a blog post called, Why I Stopped Wearing an Apple Watch. 18 months later, the Apple Watch has returned to my wrist. Why? I enjoyed wearing mechanical watches. I really did. I bought, (and sold), several different models as I explored the types of watches that I thought I might like to wear. I read blog posts, watched YouTube videos and joined online watch communities to learn as much as I could. However, I ultimately decided that the best watch for me is the Apple Watch. Ironic, right? Here’s why I went full circle and returned to the fold.
Telling the Time
One of my biggest complaints about the Apple Watch was the seemingly constant need to flick your wrist in order to tell the time. It infuriated me. It was annoying and it wasn’t always reliable. When you need to see the time, you shouldn’t have to do a dance to get your watch to cooperate. The watch on my wrist right now is the Apple Watch Series 6. It has an always-on display. When not in use, it is dimmer than the regular display, but it means I can always see the time regardless of whether my Apple Watch thinks I am looking at it or not. It also has a brighter display than any previous Apple Watch, making it easier to see outside. In short, problem solved.
The Apple Watch I wore before this one was a Series 2. As you may expect, performance has improved a lot over the years. The Series 6 is snappier and more responsive. Apps launch quickly, Bluetooth connections are more stable, and everything just works a lot better than before. Yet, this is to be expected. This Apple Watch is several generations newer than the one I had before. Technology has marched on and I believe that the performance of the Series 6 is pretty much the best that you can hope for in a modern smartwatch. It may not be perfect, but there is nothing better right now, so if you need a smartwatch this is as good as it gets.
Value for Money
I am still a little conflicted on this one. An Apple Watch has a limited lifespan. I won’t be passing this one on to my son when he graduates. I won’t be wearing it for decades to come and look back on it with nostalgia as I recall the years of service it has given me. In essence, this is a disposable watch, in the same way you have a disposable smartphone. You either accept that or you don’t.
However, if there is one thing I learned from the analogue watch world, it’s that you inevitably have to pay handsomely if you want a quality product. Sure, there are some bargains out there, but up to a point, you pretty much get what you pay for. If you want a stylish watch that is well-made, with an accurate, reliable movement, a sapphire crystal, and great lume, then you will easily pay the same as you would for an Apple Watch. If you want the added bonus of a well-respected watch manufacturer or the prestige that comes with owning something like a German or Swiss watch, then the price just went up even more.
I don’t know if the Apple Watch Series 6 is worth the money I paid for it. It costs what it costs. However, if you apply the same logic from the analogue watch world, you often need to spend more to get more. Will it pay off? Well, it seems like a terrible pun under the circumstances, but only time will tell.
The battery life on the Series 6 seems much better when compared the watch I owned 18 months ago. This is noteworthy considering that the Series 6 has more sensors and more functionality than my Series 2. Even with the always-on display, it is perfectly adequate for my needs and it easily lasts all day. I’m not using it for sleep tracking right now, but if I wanted to I feel like I could as I often end the day with 40 or 50% battery.
While I liked that my automatic watches did not need a battery, they still needed winding or setting if left unworn for two or three days at a time. For watches with a date complication, the date would also need changed. Even with the small collection I had, rotating your watches meant that inevitably they would run down and need set again before use. In some ways that was part of the charm of watch ownership, but in other ways, it was less convenient. Yes, the Apple Watch battery will degrade over time, but so long as I leave it on the charger each night, it will always be ready to go the next day. If for some reason it isn’t, I still have my G-Shock GWM5610. With solar power and atomic time, this zombie apocalypse watch is a handy backup.
Unfortunately, there is less good news on this front. As I said in my original post, one of the things that first drew me in to traditional watches was the almost infinite variations of dial design. With an Apple Watch you are limited to the designs that Apple includes in the watch gallery. Those designs have increased in number over the last 18 months, but for me, very few are practical, or legible, on the 40mm watch. There are a couple I like and will use, but I’m still not in love with the choices. I continue to hold out hope that Apple will one day consent to the calls of third party app developers who want to create their own.
I haven’t completely turned my back on the analog watch world. I still have the aforementioned G-Shock as well as a Seiko Mini Turtle (SRPC41K1) dive watch. However, my daily driver is the Apple Watch. I’m enjoying getting to know the Apple Watch again and exploring the new features and functionality. Let’s see what that looks like in another 18 months.