I’ve never really been a consistent watch-wearer.
As I spend the majority of my days in front of a computer where the current time is always just a glance away, I must have subconsciously filed watch-wearing away in the optional cabinet of my morning routine.
Just to clarify, my lack of watch-wearing isn’t because I subscribe to the argument that watches are unnecessary in our modern age when everyone has a smartphone. On the contrary, I think there are a number of situations where even a basic watch would be the superior choice to a smartphone. Take for example the typical British summertime scenario of being confronted by torrential rain and howling winds, one hand struggling with a heavy bag and the other hopelessly trying to prevent an unimaginably flimsy umbrella from being torn asunder. In such a situation, being able to check the time on your wrist would be much more preferable than having to tear a rotator cuff awkwardly trying to retrieve your iPhone from a seemingly impenetrable pocket.
My current watch collection is modest, consisting of a stainless steel digital Casio, a brass/copper look Michael Kors and a red-strapped Mondaine. They’re all great watches and there have been times where I have consistently worn them for extended periods, but eventually they find themselves returning from whence they came – the drawer.
There’s something different about my attitude toward the Apple Watch.
Although I was aware that it could do a lot of things based on the Apple marketing I’d seen, the practical reality of wearing the Apple Watch on the daily is a delight. If the goal is not revolution, but just to make daily activities just that little bit more efficient and productive, Apple’s certainly achieved that end.
I’ve only had my Apple Watch SE for around a month and a half now, but I thought I would share my five favourite features thus far.
1. The Watch Face
There a quite a number of watch face options for the Apple Watch, but the one I have opted for offers an extensive yet minimalistic selection of go-to info. As I’ve captured in the photograph above, I have:
- The date;
- The time;
- A weather and temperature report at the current time and for each of the subsequent four hours;
- My activity rings for the day (with red tracking my overall activity, green my exercise and blue my time spent standing up);
- The analog time;
- The current temperature and the day’s high and low temperature; and
- To cap it off, a little globe in the top left hand corner marking my current location on the planet.
This is quite the sophisticated watch face (especially when compared with my non-smart watches), yet for all of the data displayed it doesn’t feel messy.
I appreciate that for things like the weather, the same information could be found by taking out your phone and opening the weather app, but the convenience in having that information immediately accessible on your wrist is nice.
2. Workout Tracking
The workout app has a whole list of workout types it’s capable of tracking, from strength training to outdoor walking to high intensity interval training. I’ve been using it to track my home gym workouts during lockdown (either strength training or stationary cycling) and some outdoor walks.
One of the things I like about this app is the ability to monitor your workout length and rest periods. I find that strength training sessions in particular can end up going over time and taking me an hour and a half on occasion, purely because I am not monitoring my rest periods strictly enough and leaving too much time between sets. Having the timer on your wrist is really helpful for keeping you focused and allowing you to monitor the duration of things like rest periods.
The app also tracks the calories you’ve burnt and your heart rate, both of which are interesting to know and to compare between different types of workout.
3. Water Resistance
One of the features of the watch that I was quite surprised with was its water resistance. I had expected that a sophisticated electronic watch such as this would need to be kept in a cool dry place at all times with bags of rice on hand just in case the air became too humid, but that’s not the case. I’ve not yet been swimming with the watch as yet, but knowing that you can not only wear it in the pool but also track your swimming workout (with the above workout app) really is cool.
Another added bonus of this water resistance is the cleanliness factor. Once you’ve tracked a particularly sweaty workout wearing the watch, you can immediately jump in the shower to clean both yourself and the watch. This was one of the issues I had with my Fitbit Charge 2. Although it was good for tracking workouts, its lack of water resistance meant that cleaning had to be carried out separately which detracted from its time-saving capabilities.
The Apple Watch also has a neat little water lock. When activated, you can’t accidentally enter commands into the watch until you have turned the digital crown to unlock the touch screen. Another nice little touch.
4. The Silicone Solo Loop Strap
You might think it odd that I have included the watch band in my list of five favourite features, but it really is worth highlighting. One of the things I disliked about the Fitbit Charge 2 was the fact that it had a rigid, rubber strap with a standard buckle for securing the device around your wrist. As a result, there was very little give to the strap which I found to be uncomfortable and potentially a recipe for injury when doing exercises which involved hyper extensions to your wrist (i.e. press movements).
The silicone Solo Loop on the other hand is incredibly soft and elastic, so enables far more freedom of movement. Having this strap flexibility also allows you to slide the watch further up your wrist to keep it out of the way when you are doing activities with a lot of wrist movement.
You may have also noticed that I am a little on the hirsute side, but unlike my other watches I have surprisingly not experienced any pulled hairs with this strap. This may again be because it is just a single piece of silicone, so there are no areas where arm hair could get trapped. Equally, the material itself is smooth and not sticky, so doesn’t appear to be prone to trapping hairs between the strap and your wrist.
The only thing I’ve found a little awkward is taking the watch off. As the Solo Loop strap is just a single piece of silicone, you need to stretch it over your hand to remove the watch which either involves dragging the metal watch over the top of your hand or holding the watch and doing a little hand gymnastics to get free from the strap. However, I’d definitely say that the positive from the extended wearing experience far outweighs the short-lived experience of taking the watch off.
5. Stock Tracking
This was quite an amusing discovery, but I think it’s great that you can track your stocks on the Apple Watch. As someone who thinks that spending extended periods of time watching your stock charts during trading hours is a huge waste of time (and a gateway drug to day trading), the ability to have a quick look at your index fund’s performance for the day by glancing at your watch really is magic.
Again, this is not a huge positive, but it’s just another added bonus in quite a long list of little life improvements that the Apple Watch offers. By enabling you to scratch that stock-checking itch in a couple of seconds, you are saving yourself from needless procrastination which I see as a big plus.
Overall Thoughts on the Apple Watch SE
Although I don’t see the Apple Watch as an essential piece of tech, I see it as a great productivity aid that can offer lots of little improvements to many different areas of your day to day life. With its focus on saving you time and getting you excited about hitting goals with your health, I can only see it having a net positive impact on your daily routine.
I’m now a watch guy.
I appreciate that this is a fairly concise assessment of a multifaceted bit of tech, so feel free to ask questions in the comments.