How Fashion Is Different: The Apple Watch Case

2 minute read


“The overall level of design in the Apple Watch simply blows away anything – digital or analog – in the watch space at $350. “

“They didn’t exaggerate the options and make one decidedly male oriented at 44 mm and a girly equivalent at 35 mm or the like. Any man, woman, or child could pull off either size with ease. “

“The Apple Watch, in its own way, really pays great homage to traditional watchmaking and the environment in which horology was developed.”
— Benjamin Clymer (2014) A Watch Guy’s Thoughts On The Apple Watch

Superb article. If you have to read one article on the Apple Watch, make it this one.

The fact I don’t see me today with a watch or that I don’t like this design doesn’t mean that I also think that they didn’t do a good job. To be clear: appreciating a good design and personally liking it are two different things.

They surely did a great job, and the interaction and visual design on this object is surely impressive. It’s clear how much attention went in trying this, using it and making it feel smooth in any detail, even the “old fashioned” crown. It’s not perfect, but even just the first review point out how all these details fall into a single, coherent, whole.

“Then you have the link bracelet. Did you know that the entire thing is sizable with just your own hands, no tools required?”

Not just that: they understood a critical part that in the past years I’ve mentioned countless times to countless people: once you start playing in the realm of fashion the rules are different. That’s why tech companies always had an hard time in moving to that market.

The simple evidence that Apple got it: historically, they have always released just one device, and scaled that up. Their lineup has always been super-constrained to a few narrow variation. This time they did a masterful balance between “one platform” and “variations” (keeping the 3y3m strategy in place). They built a core that is identical, and created a modular system that changes it just enough to make it different. This is hard to do. Very very hard. And no tech company before did it well. Let’s see how it plays out for Apple.

“No watch from Switzerland comes with this many choices of finishes, and in a world where every industry is splitting hairs, it only makes sense to offer the chance for people to obsess of the details. “

Fashion in certain context is a bad word because it’s usually associated with high prices and being vain, but it’s the right word to be used: it’s the mix of a thing that isn’t just enjoyed by you, but also represents you and communicate your style. It’s something incredibly hard to understand for many people, and that’s also why very few designers are able to work in the fashion and luxury industry.

“Apple paid great attention to detail with this new wrist-bound peripheral, and it shows the Swiss that it is possible to have great design at low costs. That is the most exciting thing about the Apple Watch for me – it will push the Swiss to take the sub-$1,000 mechanical watch category more seriously.”

This is another important detail. I’ve noticed people aren’t aware of the price of well designed watches. Which doesn’t mean that the Apple Watch is cheap, it just means that is actually on the cheap side for that specific market. Let’s see how many people in the coming years will define the Apple Watch as “overpriced”.

Great review Benjamin Clymer.