When I look down at my very analog watch, it tells me what time it is—just like it's supposed to.
But in reality, it doesn't really tell me much, only that it's about 2:09 right now. No a.m./p.m., day, date, or month to be found. The case design doesn't even betray a year or decade. If you took a photo of my wrist, it might as well be my grandfather’s wrist in 1965.
And this is a good thing, because it means my watch is timeless.
The problem with the Apple Watch is that it isn't timeless
On March 9th Tim Cook and co. finally unveiled more information about the Apple Watch and finally announced pricing, with 38-millimeter aluminum versions starting at the low-end $349 price point, stainless steel at $549, and luxurious 18-carat gold at $10,000. Apple adds $50 to the price tag if you want to go for the wider 42-millimeter case.
It all looks pretty slick, watching it on the stage and in the videos Apple has made. The new watch seems to master time, syncing with the government's atomic clocks and giving you calendar updates, giving you the illusion that it’s got a white-knuckled handle on time. But time has nothing but aloof contempt for the Apple Watch. The shiny, sleek metal and LCD screen are, and will forever be, marked by whatever tiny two-year window it lived in, time-stamping every photograph it’s in, just like Zack Morris’s enormous WWII radio of a phone. It just doesn't transcend time.
We all know that the things that seem new and exciting today are the exact same things that will feel dated tomorrow. Moore’s Law says that processing power and file storage are growing exponentially quickly, and the iPhone 4S everyone works so hard to keep in mint condition is a clear example, because all anyone ever gets for it is a lousy $45 trade in credit on a 6.
It's yet another bit of planned obsolescence
A person can only take so much planned obsolescence, and it’s getting a little bit ridiculous. Computer? Fine, because it can be a long product cycle if you get the right computer. A phone? Okay, you use it everyday and they’re not ghoulishly expensive if you have an upgrade. Tablet? Cheap, simple, and poor at multitasking, so they shouldn’t need as much power and should last a while if you’re careful. Let's not even go over digital cameras, speakers, and televisions.
But a watch? Apple has captured—I put it that way on purpose—my attention from pocket to coffee table to desk, and I would like to keep my wrist uncontaminated by product cycles. When your wrist is a revolving door, how can you possibly expect to get some elegant patina on your watch?
There's a reason I like wearing the same technology my grandfather wore
Unless you’re brave enough to weigh down both wrists, wearing the Apple Watch means foregoing another watch. For me, I take pleasure using technology that’s older than me. And my parents. And my grandparents. It's technology older than batteries, chargers, WiFi, and screens. Technology that has matured and plateaued into something beautiful whose subsequent refinements are subtle and not necessarily improvements. Technology that people pay more for when it’s older.
I like the fact that my wrist might look the same in 50 years, and the Apple Watch just can’t give me that.