So it’s April 10th, a day I’ve been looking forward to since the Apple Watch was announced back in September last year. It’s preorder time for the device and also a new service that allows us to try it on in store before it’s even released.
I wake up early and go for a walk, along with me comes my iPhone 6 and the Apple Store app installed and ready to go when 08:00am (UK) rolls on by. I return from my walk just as the store opens, I fire up the app and to my amazement it allows me to go to my already favourited 42mm Space Grey Apple Watch Sports edition, add AppleCare+ and check out. It’s 08:05am and I’ve ordered, all that anticipation is over (for now). I get an email moments later letting me know that my order was successful and that I have an estimated shipping time of between 24th April and 8th May.
I am now in two minds, do I leave it at that or do I book a try an appointment at my local Apple store (Cribs Causeway, Bristol, UK) and give them a try to make sure I’ve picked the right model for me. After all I could try the steel version and change my order, I’ve also been so looking forward to seeing one in the flesh it would be a shame to not take a look. As it happens I also have an issue with my iPhone 6 that needs looking at so I could do both at the same time.
So I fire up the Apple Store app again, see the link for booking a walk in appointment and get one for lunch time. I am also able to book a last minute genius appointment at the same time, it’s all lining up nicely.
I arrive just before my appointment and see all versions of the watch laid out under glass on the new tables. There are around 15 people around the table at the time of going in, I get asked if I need help and they check me in for my appointment. In the 5 minutes I’m waiting I take a look at all of the models, each of them are on display (including 3 gold edition versions) and on first glance can’t believe how much smaller they are in person. When you look at all of the coverage and images it looks pretty thick but it’s not at all. No thicker than the Pebble that I had a few months ago, a very elegant design and I’m thinking that I made the right choice in my selection earlier online.
I am then introduced to one of the specialists that is going to look after me for my appointment. He introduces himself and shakes my hand, he asks which models I am interested in so I ask to see the one that I ordered and the steel version along with a few straps.
We walk across to another table that has a cleaning cloth, felt looking table mat and a cool drawer that opens when he uses his scanner (like the ones that they take payment from you for). He wipes down the mat, puts the scanner onto the drawer and behold - Apple Watches galore. He takes out the space grey sports model, then closes the drawer.
He fits it to my wrist, shows me the mechanism and then explains that I double tap the button to put it into demo mode. My first impression was that the sports version is very light and the sports band is grippy and comfortable. I’d imagine that after a workout it would get a bit itchy (most bands do) but the mechanism was clever and it felt secure.
Next we tried the leather band on the sports model, this was great and a definite purchase for my birthday maybe. I didn’t realise it came in black (having only seen the tan and blue version in photos) and it matches the space grey so well. This is a combination that I think is going to be my day to day. The magnets in the band is ingenious and it felt so soft and comfortable.
Next up we tried the steel model with the leather band. This was a great look and I liked the steel model more than I thought I would. I was a little put off when I saw images and thought it looked a little shiny but in person I was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked it. Maybe for the second generation I will get one but for now I’m totally happy with my choice.
Once my 15 minutes was up he asked if there was anything else he could help with and I went on my way.
Given I still had half an hour until my genius appointment I wandered around the store and saw a row of 3 watch demo units that were there to play with. I spent at least 20 minutes playing with the UI and figuring out the gestures, more on this in a separate post but just as a summary I found that once I got the hang of what each of the buttons did it became a pretty slick experience.
One observation I did make whilst waiting for my genius appointment was that there were two security guards standing either side of the bar. They were dressed in white shirts and black ties and not something I’m used to seeing at the apple store that I know and love. I am assuming that they are there to protect the gold edition version.
I then walked out 45 minutes later with a new iPhone 6 and glad I went in to take a look - I can’t wait until I get mine!
Update: I received the following follow up survey the following day.