Phillip Caudell

Apple Watch and Apple Retail

It probably goes without saying buying a watch is totally different from buying a Mac or an iPhone: it’s an accessory you wear. There are radically different considerations when buying a watch — you don’t try on a Mac.

I headed to the Apple Store in Southampton today to try on an Apple Watch. Here’s my experience.

1. You can’t try on the exact watch you want.

Unless of course it’s one of 10 or so pre-selected watch styles, sizes and band combinations. No band swaps allowed. This was most annoying. I can appreciate the practicalities of having multiple watches made up and ready to try on, but when you’re laying down a few hundred quid for a watch it’s not unreasonable to want to see it.

2. Having someone watch you try something on is awkward.

It’s like someone watching over you try on a teeshirt. I’m somewhat exaggerating — but still — it’s a really uncomfortable experience.

3. The one you try on isn’t functional.

It’s just running a loop which shows a few notifications and built in apps. You get to experience the sensation of the taptic engine, but you can’t interact with the watch in any way.

4. The watch that is functional is strapped to an acrylic slab.

Crouching and bending down to the height of a table to see a 42mm display isn’t the most pleasurable experience. You don’t get to interact with the watch in a natural way.

That said, the display is paired with the watch, so you get a live explanation of what the watch is doing as you navigate around. This was pretty cool.

5. Apple Stores are busy.

Not every store is as small as the Southampton one, but Apple stores are notoriously busy. Trying on a watch with people brushing past you in a loud space is distracting and annoying.

6. There’s no mirror.

Apple is touting the watch as a piece of fashion, and I wanted to see how it looked on me. It was hard to gauge how the watch looked merely by looking at it on your wrist. I know that sounds dumb, but I wanted to see in the context of everything I was wearing.

In conclusion

As I didn’t get to try on the exact watch I wanted, I left more confused than when I arrived. I think the retail experience for buying an Apple Watch needs a lot of work.

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