A year of living with an Apple Watch

About a year ago, with giddy excitement mixed with a lot of guilt, I purchased a used Apple Watch (1st gen) on eBay. I paid $300 for it and it was a combination Christmas, Father’s Day, and birthday present from my family. Ironically, up to that point, I’d loudly berated the idea of having such an expensive toy and wondered why on earth anyone would want to spend so much money on it.

It was love at first sight. I know, I know, what a stupid, hack-y thing to write. But I’m not someone who’s generally fond of wristwatches. I’ve had many different ones over the years but had given up a long time ago and just got used to my cell phone being my watch. The Apple Watch was immediately different, particularly because the mesh, stainless-steel wristband felt so comfortable to wear. That is still true today.

I also marveled then at its condition, which was nearly pristine, even though it was already a year old. Remarkably, it is still nearly pristine today after a year of heavy use, and that is another aspect I love about the thing: it’s so well built, a beautiful piece of technology that I don’t ever have to worry about damaging, particularly its crystal watch face. This is rare.

But does it work well for its intended purposes, or the functionality that comes with it? Of course. There are lots of aspects to it but here are ones I’ve found myself using the most:

  • timer
  • calendar
  • mobile boarding pass as well as paying for Starbucks
  • Apple Pay (it’s dangerously easy to use with most vending machines, e.g.)
  • checking the weather
  • directions from Apple Maps
There are all kinds of other uses and applications. I’ve found that I don’t fiddle a lot with watch faces, at least after the first few months of trying different things. I don’t use Siri on it because I’m hardly ever alone and I think it’s dorky and rude to speak into your watch when out in public. Same goes for taking phone calls. (This is the same reason I don’t use Siri on my iPhone or MacBook Air that much.)
I find that notifications aren’t at all egregious or intrusive, although I’ve worked to make that so. In fact I think that notifications on the Apple Watch are less distracting while driving than those that display on my iPhone. I think it’s great to be able to load songs onto the thing and then listen with a paired Bluetooth headset but as I don’t listen to music a huge amount every day, this hasn’t turned out to be something I’ve used all that often. I keep it on silent mode, constantly, preferring haptic feedback. (This, too, mirrors how I use my iPhone, because again, I think it’s rude and annoying to others when a person’s phone makes noises.)
The wristband is one of the best features but because it is secured magnetically, it works itself loose and I have to frequently tighten it throughout the day. I find that annoying. I’d like to try different bands but frankly, they are all quite expensive so that hasn’t happened yet. I don’t care about them from a fashion perspective, more from just a functional perspective.
Battery life? Well, of course I’d always love more, but honestly, it has never been a problem. I’ve gotten into the habit of taking it off when I go to bed at night, connecting it to its charger, and then putting it on again when I wake up the next day, and that works just fine for my needs. I’d like to get a different charger, on a stand, some day, but again, they tend to be pretty expensive so I’m content with what I have for now. Where I’d find a stand helpful is when traveling, so as to make the watch my own mini alarm clock. (This is a built-in feature of the Apple Watch, when you take it off and set it down in a vertical position.)
Although there are already a lot of different apps to choose from, their utility varies greatly. I’d like to see more variety and I think this is a place where app developers are missing a good opportunity.
Bottom line: I still love my Apple Watch. I also still feel guilty for having it and for how much it cost, but overall it has been worth it to me. I’d highly recommend it to anyone who’s looking for the very best smartwatch device out there and has the money to pay for it. And even though the particular model I use has been superseded, in no way does it feel outdated.

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