As an Apple user (and yes, a fan), I have smartwatch envy for my friends in the Android ecosystem. If they want a fully featured smartwatch, they have over a dozen decent options to choose from. Apple nerds like me don’t have it so good, although that’s been changing recently.
The lack of selection gets under my skin. I want a good smartwatch with all the features. I just don’t want the one Apple is pushing.
Now, I’ve used other smartwatches. I had a Microsoft SPOT watch in 2004. I never wore it, since it didn’t fit under my shirt cuffs. Then I had a Wimm One, before Google bought the company. I liked getting my text messages on it. It was not handsome, though; more a wrist-worn science experiment. Recently, I’ve been wearing (occasionally) a new Basis Peak watch/fitness tracker. It has full-time heart-rate monitoring. It’s also quite ugly.
My great-grandfather was jeweler. If he could have seen me wearing any of these watches, he’d have been appalled.
Why not Apple?
The Apple Watch looks attractive at first glance. Could it be the smartwatch that I’d feel good about wearing? No, unfortunately. It’s not there. For one thing, I really don’t want to worry about charging my watch every single day. I know from my experience with the Wimm One and the Basis that I just won’t remember to keep a watch charged.
And then there’s that big, black, blank screen that the watch displays most of the time. I don’t care that the rest of the Apple Watch looks very good (if a bit thick). And it doesn’t matter that the watch face will light up when I look at it. That blankness is just not attractive. And watches are jewelry. You don’t want your bracelet to look nice only when you look at it: It has to look nice to everybody else, too.
Best compromise so far
Now, the new Pebble Time is no Patek Philippe, but it is at least a watch. You don’t have to treat it like an infant that needs constant feeding. And you can read it without executing the correct wrist wag.
And, bonus, it’s less expensive than the Apple Watch. I ordered one through the Kickstarter project.
I think it’s a safe bet that the Apple Watch will sell like crazy, and that it will have more and fancier apps, and that its screen (when on) will be more beautiful and faster than the Pebble’s color e-paper display. But, like Apple’s first iPhone, it’ll also be missing key features, even if it is wrapped in a gorgeous body and a universe of promise.
Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe while I’m liveblogging the Apple “Spring Forward” event on Monday, my mind will change. But for now, I’m really looking forward to my new Pebble Time watch. And I can’t wait for the second version of the Apple Watch.
A Mondaine smartwatch. Doesn’t do as much as a Pebble, and it costs $895. But look at it. (Photo: Mondaine)