I don’t miss my Apple Watch

Nope, not even a little bit

First things first: I’m a huge fan of high-end mechanical watches. Though I very rarely talk about it publicly online or even in meatspace (mainly because it’s hard to do without people you don’t know thinking you’re batshit insane), I’ve owned a number of them over the years, and all in have probably spent more on mechanical watches than some people will spend on cars in their lifetime. (That’s not a humblebrag — it’s a cry for help.) As far as I’m concerned, fine mechanical watches are the ultimate gadget.

Horology is a tough thing to be openly enthusiastic about, what with all of your rational friends constantly demanding an explanation of why you’re compelled to strap a small engine to your wrist. I get that this isn’t normal, and that like many obsessions and passions, is somewhat irrational. But, it is something I really enjoy, and unfortunately that enjoyment, and usually good design and craftsmanship generally, comes with a high cost. I mention all of this in an effort to contextualize a bit the end result of my Apple Watch “trial period”.

As you may have guessed from the title, I sold my Apple Watch (after a few months). I knew from jump that I was going to get one. I mean, of course I was. But, I bought it thinking that it likely wouldn’t provide me enough utility to remove permanently the mechanical beauties from my wrist. For a short time I was wrong. I wasn’t terribly happy about it, but that was the reality. Then I came to my senses.

Design

I know opinion’s divided around its design, but I think it’s pretty, and I liked how it looked and sat on my wrist. I had the 42mm Space Gray Sport, with the “fog” sports strap. (Frankly, I’d actually be OK with them doubling the width and making it rectangular; I think this might eventually happen (Watch Plus?).) Also, as I’m sure you’ve heard or know yourself, it was amazingly comfortable to wear and didn’t irritate me in the slightest.

Notifications

Like you, I get a lot of notifications…except I get more. For the most part I love notifications, and for a time getting them on my wrist was pretty great. Most of the time I just had the watch notifications mirror my iPhone, but for some apps I disabled watch notifications entirely (e.g., Words With Friends).

Some nice things became possible now that I could receive notifications on my wrist instead of my phone. One was that I could put my phone in another room while I read on my Kindle — a quick glance and I could determine whether the notification warranted an immediate response or not. Of course, most of the time they’re not terribly important and could wait, and I could go back to reading.

Another nice thing about having notifications on the watch had to do with meetings. Most days I’m in a lot of meetings, and I’m not always on my phone (promise!). If I put my phone down on the table, anyone can see 1) that I got a notification and 2) potentially the content of the notification (depending on the app). I hate this. With the watch I got a delightful tap on my wrist, flicked my wrist towards me, read the message, and then dropped my wrist and the screen turned off. No one but me could see the notification. Cool.

(I’ve seen a lot of people whining that they want the display to always be on, and I can’t for the life of me figure out why you’d want to sacrifice (a shit ton of) battery life just to save you from having to tilt your wrist slightly. To these folks I say…relax. I loved that the screen was off 99% of the time. Indeed, I thought that was one of the coolest things about the watch.)

So, that was the good news with respect to notifications; what’s the bad? Well, the deluge of notifications — each of which demanded a sliver of my attention — just started to feel very counterproductive. With my phone I never have vibrate on and very rarely have sound on. If I need to really focus I either turn my phone over or place it out of sight. I didn’t have that luxury with the Apple Watch. Yes, I could turn on “do not disturb”, but then I had to remember to turn it back on. Yes, of course I could just take the watch off, but that seemed like a silly thing to have to do multiple times a day. Yes, I could customize the notification settings for each of my apps (instead of having them mirror my phone settings), but I have a gazillion apps. And so it went.

I realize these might seem like minor nits — and they are — but they’re just the kind of little things that, in aggregate, cause me to question why I’m even dealing with all of this shit in the first place. 😉

Third-party apps

I had just a few on the watch, but rarely if ever jumped into them. They were just slow as shit across the board (even after watchOS 2.0), and I otherwise just couldn’t find much utility in them. I found myself using the watch almost exclusively as a notification-delivery system…and nothing else.

Conclusion

After wearing the Apple Watch for a few months I came to feel that, for me, at this point, it was just overkill. It didn’t add appreciably to the iOS experience, and frankly could even be a little annoying.

I simply get more enjoyment out of wearing a nice mechanical watch than I do an Apple Watch. It really is that simple. The Apple Watch is pretty amazing, and no doubt will become much more so over time, but right now it just doesn’t do enough for me to push the little engines off my wrist.


Since offloading the Apple Watch I’ve bought a number of activity trackers, including the Misfit Shine 2, the Jawbone UP3, and the Fitbit Charge HR, so I guess I’m not completely over the activity-tracking features of the watch. That said, I haven’t worn any of these in the last few weeks — I just don’t think I like having something strapped to both wrists. But, that new Misfit Ray looks nice…and so I pre-ordered one. Ugh.