Sizing up Apple Watch

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Deutsch LA's EVP/design director checks off the strengths (and one weakness) of Apple's smartwatch

I love watches.

I’m a guy … and to me, watches are the one accessory that just feels appropriate. I know it’s cliché, but I love the idea that Steve McQueen always wore one, James Bond had his trusty Omega, fighter pilots wear them, divers live by them, and Navy SEALs rely on them. But what I’ve always loved most about them is their simplicity in nature and utility. Just tell me the time — maybe the date — and we’re good to go. So, when Apple decided to come out with a watch, I wondered if it was going to follow the same game plan as it had for the iPhone: Create a great phone first and foremost. Then iterate on it.

So did Apple make a great watch? Does it serve up the same basic elements that I love about my other watches? Does it feel crafted and made? Does it have character? Does it have heft and presence on my arm? And more importantly, will it do what a watch is supposed to do? Tell me the time, give me the date, and keep on ticking?

The answer is an emphatic yes, unless you get it wet (we’ll get to that later).

Is it beautifully crafted?

CHECK.

Incredibly beautiful materials: Highly polished stainless steel, leather, anodized aluminum, 18-karat gold and high-performance fluoroelastomer.

Does it tell the time?

CHECK.

It’s incredibly accurate to within 50 milliseconds of the UTC. It is highly customizable so you can view the time the way you want. With a range of faces from playful, to artful, to elegant, to educational, to athletic — you can tell time just the way you like.

Is it utilitarian?

BIG CHECK.

As Apple usually does, it has taken the basic elements of an object we’re familiar with and completely reinvented it. It turned a watch into the most advanced personal device ever, adding a personal dimension to timekeeping that’s never been done before. The most powerful feature, in my opinion, is Glances. The classic watch has always been a great device for glancing at the time and date. The Apple Watch has taken this to another level by making scan-able summaries of the information you seek out most frequently.

The big question: What challenges will brands and marketers face with this new platform?

As we’ve seen with the iPhone, mobile marketing has become personal (and some might say invasive) as brands focus on creating value for consumers on a device they carry with them 24/7. The Apple Watch does so much more than tell the time; It’s a mini-computer for your wrist. As brands begin to develop prototypes for the Apple Watch, the major challenge marketers are going to face is defining the utility of their services, developing highly useful content for this platform, and persuading consumers that it’s worth the download (and the storage space) for their personal accessory.

So am I impressed?

Hell, yes. Do I think it will be a great watch? No doubt. But can I go swimming with it? NO. How did this happen? Well, we don’t usually take our computers into the water. But I’m certain we will soon. And I’m certain, just like with the iPhone, that Apple will continue to iterate on the Apple Watch and one day make it waterproof. And when that happens, I’ll be wearing it to monitor my lap times while swimming and the tidal changes when I’m surfing. And on that day my love for watches will probably grow even more. And it might — just might — make me feel like James Bond.

Nathan Iverson is EVP/design director of Deutsch LA.

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