Start your clocks: Test time for Apple watches

  • By Booth Moore Los Angeles Times
  • Friday, April 24, 2015 4:06pm
  • Life

LOS ANGELES — Sport, Classic, Edition — each has its possibilities.

The Apple Watch landed in stores recently for “try-on visits,” ahead of the April 24 ship date. It’s a pretty genius retail tactic akin to a fashion trunk show — a tease to create demand for the tech giant’s first foray into wearable technology. And it seems to have worked; many models of the watches are already back-ordered.

I wasn’t sure what to wear to my “try-on visit.” Jeans, a skirt, long sleeves or short? I went with short sleeves, a skirt and heels because I wanted to see if the watch felt right with a somewhat formal, “on-duty” outfit.

I tried on three models. The classic 38 mm (that’s the smaller size) with stainless steel case, modern buckle, soft pink, made-in-Italy leather strap; the Sport 38 mm with stainless steel case, a surfy-looking white fluoroelastomer sport band; and the super-luxe Edition 38 mm with rose gold case, modern buckle and rose-gray leather strap.

Naturally, the Edition (which is $17,000) is the one I liked most. The rose gold is gorgeous and warm, as is the buffed leather strap. The rounded shape of the lugs (where the band attaches to the case) kind of reminds me of the Hermes Cape Cod watch. The round-edge rectangular “modern buckle” really grew on me, in fact. It’s one of my favorite features of the watches and closes easily with magnets, with a satisfying “thump.”

The Sport model (starting at $349) has a cleaner look and is noticeably lighter on the wrist with a strap that is a pin-and-tuck closure, which would be ideal for working out. I wish the strap color options were more vibrant, the pink more hot than the watermelon hue on offer, for example.

The Classic (starting at $549) feels more functional than stylish. I was underwhelmed by strap options for the Classic models, but third parties are already lining up to design stylish alternatives. (It’s worth noting that any of the three Apple Watch models can be mixed with any of the bands, which are easily swapped out — though the hardware won’t necessarily match.)

In terms of function, the customizable display on the face is a big draw. Among the options, the flowers are attractive, and the animated jellyfish incredibly detailed. But I wish you could customize the display with a personal photo.

There are two hardware buttons — the digital crown and power button. The crown is easy to use to scroll through lists and is set high enough on the case so that it won’t depress when your wrist is downward dogging in yoga. The icons for the functions on the face are small but respond easily to touch.

Using the watch as a remote control for music and TV is appealing, as is the ability to click the shutter remotely on an iPhone photo. The Apple Pay feature is cool, too, and seems safe since the moment the watch comes off your wrist, it’s password-protected.

I was excited to see the fitness applications, too — calculate how many calories you burned at a class at SoulCycle with one tap? Yes, please.

What kind of communication tool the watch will be, I couldn’t tell at first blush. The alerts, when someone has texted or emailed, are a strange sensation. Almost like a tiny electrical shock. But I suppose you get used to it. You can dictate texts and emails to your wrist a la Dick Tracy, but that’s possible on the iPhone. Maybe it will be easier to do while driving though.

I am looking forward to the prospect of being able to filter out some of my emails, so only the ones I choose hit my wrist and mental space. That would be a true luxury, a watch that’s actually a timesaver.

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