Weekend read: A Brief History of the Wristwatch

On July 9, 1916, The New York Times puzzled over a fashion trend: Europeans were starting to wear bracelets with clocks on them. Time had migrated to the human wrist, and the development required some explaining.

“Until recently,” the paper observed, “the bracelet watch has been looked upon by Americans as more or less of a joke. Vaudeville artists and moving-picture actors have utilized it as a funmaker, as a ‘silly ass’ fad.”

A Brief History of the Wristwatch – Uri Friedman, The Atlantic (27 May 2015)

Read the full piece.

UK pricing for Apple Watch

Let’s cut to it. The one you’re going to get is the cheapest. Except the Apple Watch comes in two sizes: 38mm and 42mm. For once the smaller device is the cheaper – doesn’t it cost more to squeeze components down? – and that will cost you £299.

The 42mm one will cost you £339.

This price level is called the Apple Watch Sport and I am not a sporting kinda guy but I will pretend I am as the next level up is a big step. Oddly, the next one is just called the Apple Watch: there’s no qualifier, no extra word in the name. It has the same two sizes and the smaller is £479.

Then there’s the Apple Watch Edition, the gold one. That starts from £8,000.

Told you that you’re going to get the cheapest. I have zero problems with this in terms of the watch: I neither want nor can afford to spend £8,000 on a watch. But the standard straps on the cheapest one do look cheap. I don’t have zero problems with that, I have something just above zero. It’s just that I think they might be uncomfortable: they look uncomfortable.

Still, whatever watch you buy, you can buy other straps, they’re just ranging from doable to silly money.

Nonetheless, they had me since last year.

Read more about the Apple Watch including all the UK pricing details on the official site. You’ve got up to 24 April to save.

Is this the most useless feature of the Apple Watch?

Could be. First the feature, then why it’s useless:

[Jony Ive says] Just yesterday, somebody was saying, ‘Wow, do you know what I just did? I set the alarm in the morning, and it woke just me by tapping my wrist. It didn’t wake my wife or my baby,’” he recounted. “Isn’t that fantastic?”

“San Francisco Treasure” Jony Ive Talks Apple Watch at SFMOMA Gala – Nellie Bowles and Dawn Chmielewski, Re/code (1 November 2014)

It is fantastic and it would make my getting up hours before Angela that much easier. So far, so Apple.


It’s beyond likely that the Apple Watch will need charging up every night. Maybe I’m jaded because I’ve had problems with the ordinary alarm on my iPhone, but I think this is going to be a feature that has to wait for better battery technology than currently exists.

Ive was talking at a San Francisco event; read Re/code’s full piece.

For when you still quietly fancy the Moto 360 round smartwatch

It does look very nice.


I’ve spent the last seven days with Motorola’s smartwatch strapped to my wrist, recharging it every night at around 10PM and re-equipping it immediately upon crawling out of bed. I’ve had it synced with my HTC One (M8) the entire time.

My experience over the past week has taught me a lot about the future of smartwatches, the importance of intuitive software on a tiny device, and all the ways Apple could make just about every other smartwatch — including my new Moto 360 — look like a joke

What a week with the Moto 360 taught me about the Apple Watch – Mike Wehner, TUAW (14 October 2014)

Read the full piece.

Will.I.Ever.Learn tries to beat the Apple Watch with a Teleport Bracelet

Pray you don’t get one of these for Christmas. I know you won’t buy it for yourself, but imagine someone giving it to you on Christmas Day and noticing that you stopped wearing it by Valentines. Because the Apple Watch is out. Now, that’s not to even pretend that the Apple Watch will be unbeatable, but it is being generous saying you could still be wearing Will.i.am’s new smartwatch by February.

I say smartwatch. Apparently he or some people are calling it a cuff. Okay. Looks like a black plastic version of the teleport bracelets from Blake’s 7 to me.

A site called The Next Web got that image and says:

When you think wearables, you don’t usually think international superstar or Salesforce. Push aside that old way of thinking aside because Black Eyed Peas frontman Will.i.am just unveiled his Puls smartwatch at the Dreamforce conference in San Francisco.

Pronounced “pulse,” the smartwatch is voice controlled via a Siri-like feature called Aneeda (get it? Aneeda. I need a…). It ships with Instagram, Facebook, Twitter (called Twitrist. get it? Twit wrist. Puns!), and Salesforce. It also has the expected photo, email, contacts, call, texting, calculator, music and fitness functions.

Will.i.am Introduces the Puls Smartwatch – no author named, The Next Web (16 October 2014)

Read the full piece for much more detail and much more photography. There are a couple of shots where you’ll think actually, that’s not bad. But then there are some where you’ll need drink a couple of shots before you think that.

John Gruber on the Apple Watch

When the prices of the steel and (especially) gold Apple Watches are announced, I expect the tech press to have the biggest collective shit-fit in the history of Apple-versus-the-standard-tech-industry shit-fits. The utilitarian mindset that asks “Why would anyone waste money on a gold watch?” isn’t going to be able to come to grips with what Apple is doing here. They’re going to say that Jony Ive and Tim Cook have lost their minds. They’re going to wear out their keyboards typing “This never would have happened if Steve Jobs were alive.” They’re going to predict utter and humiliating failure…

And then people will line up around the block at Apple Stores around the world to buy them. I think Apple Watch prices are going to be shockingly high — gasp-inducingly, get-me-to-the-fainting-couch high — from the perspective of the tech industry. But at the same time, there is room for them to be disruptively low from the perspective of the traditional watch and jewelry world. There’s a massive pricing umbrella in the luxury watch world, and Apple is aiming to take advantage of it.

Apple Watch: Initial Thoughts and Observations – John Gruber, Daring Fireball (16 September 2014)

I read a comment the other day that the technology press is an oddly conservative group. I think so. It feels as if every time something new comes out it either gets slammed or exalted and then later positions quietly reverse. I’m thinking of when the iPhone came out and Apple was mocked; you don’t see so many technology sites mentioning their initial reports now. I’m also thinking of the fairly countless times a Microsoft or Samsung or Dell or generic Android device has been lauded and now you can’t even remember their name. And you didn’t buy them.

Gruber has a long piece examining the Apple Watch and in a small part about how it will be seen by this tech press. I think he’s actually quite down on the watch; for all his praise, he’s clear that he expects it to do more than Apple has announced so far or “Apple is in deep trouble”.

I like the watch more than he does. I like it a lot, I’m impressed, I’m buying.

But Apple’s always claimed to be at the intersection between technology and the arts, a spot and a phrase I rather like, where Gruber makes a case that it’s somewhere else. Somewhere more. The intersection of technology, arts, fashion and watches. With technology more in the background. I don’t know that I’m persuaded, I don’t know that it matters, but I think he’s right that it will be most visible in the pricing of the Apple Watch when it finally comes out.