I booked an appointment over the weekend at my local Apple store to try on the Apple Watch. Any expectations I had about what would go down were entirely due to a post I caught on Mobile Syrup last Friday—to quote its author, Dan Bader: “There is plenty of greatness in this try-on experience.”
… Which is interesting, because the greatness was decidedly lacking in mine.
I showed up at the Toronto Eaton Centre just after 10am on Sunday for my 10:15am appointment. When I checked in with the employee at the front of the quiet store I was actually carded—that is, asked to produce photo ID. Not exactly the way I’d choose to start off a “great” retail experience.
After waiting in a corner for a few minutes another employee came to fetch me for my appointment; I’ll not mention her name because I don’t want to get anyone fired. She led me over to the magical Apple Watch table where, with a wave of her non-Apple RFID device, the drawer underneath was unlocked to reveal… [dramatic pause]… some watches.
I chose to try on the one you see above, a 42mm watch in stainless steel with the Milanese loop. Because “steel band” is just so obvious and pedestrian, don’t you think? Anyway, I was more than a bit surprised to find that I couldn’t actually interact with this shiny new thing on my wrist as it was stuck in demo mode; for actually using Apple Watch there was a sport model already on the display table.
Could I put the working one on my wrist? Of course not—it was glued to a display stand, idiot.
At this point it dawned on me that these appointments aren’t actually for showing a prospective buyer what the Apple Watch can do, but rather to confirm a size and band for the prospective buyer’s online pre-order.
Another quote from Mobile Syrup:
That’s what’s so interesting about this whole process: it is entirely disconnected from the purchase itself…
Yeah, not so much for me… While going back and forth between the demo on my wrist and the working unit glued to the table here’s the friendly chit-chat I got from the store employee:
“Feels good, right?”
“You like it, right?”
“Is this the one you’re gonna buy?”
No pressure there…
As for the watch itself, it’s substantial (heavy) and not unattractive. Software-wise I still think the app screen is an unholy mess; it would help a bit if the button below the digital crown could be repurposed as a shortcut to a user-defined application, instead of forever sending you to your contacts. “Forever” is a relative term, of course—as with all consumer electronics this thing will have a useful lifetime of maybe a few years, tops.
And my “try-on” experience? Thankfully, not a complete waste of time—I did, at least, get this comparison photo of (from the left) my LG G Watch, the 42mm Apple Watch, the 38mm Apple Watch and my Pebble: