The Apple Watch vs. My Dad’s Rolex

Apple Watch and RolexTo the surprise of many, Apple didn’t name its new watch the iWatch. This was very smart. There has been enough about “i.” Apple is saying that it’s not just another iProduct. First and foremost, it’s a watch. So, as a watch, how’s it doing?

At first glance, not so well. My standard of comparison is my watch, which is a Rolex Oyster Perpetual bubbleback my mother gave my dad in 1945 and which Dad gave to me shortly before he died. The Rolex is superior to the Apple Watch in several ways. It’s waterproof, with a nice screw-down crown. It’s self-winding, although after 69 years, I have to wind it every few days. It’s worth considerably more now than when it was originally sold.

Apple didn’t mention water resistance or battery life at its watch’s introduction, which has got to mean they’re bad. And who can believe that in 69 years anybody except a technology museum will pay anything for Apple Watch 1.0? Already pundits are advising us to wait for subsequent models, citing the clunky form factors of the first iPod, iPhone and iPad.

Most important, my Dad’s watch is emotionally priceless. It’s already promised to my son some day, but not yet, not yet. Mom had “You and Me” engraved on the back. When I wear it, I think of all the meetings it must have been in as it accompanied my dad, a Hollywood producer. In fact, I mostly wear it now to important meetings of my own.

Speaking of my Dad, I remember when he came back from Pittsburgh, Westinghouse’s headquarters, and told me he had just seen the washing machines that would be introduced over the next 15 years. He thought it important to pass on to me the idea of “planned obsolescence.” He was in charge of TV for Westinghouse’s ad agency at the time. The computer industry has raised planned obsolescence to an art form. We actually seem to look forward to some of our products reaching “end of life.” We certainly expect it of all of them.

So the Apple Watch won’t be around in a few years. In 69 years, it will probably be implanted in our bodies, with a display on our skin.

On the other wrist…

It’s possible to get wistful about this. So little seems to last anymore. Stuff we used to fix we now throw away. But before your eyes get wet, consider this: I’ll probably buy an Apple Watch.

I don’t actually wear the Rolex much now. I’m sort of tough on watches, and I don’t want this one to break. After all, the cost of cleaning and adjusting it is as much as a reasonably priced new watch. My day-to-day watch, however, broke last winter, so I decided to get along with my iPhone. I was already anticipating buying a smartwatch.

In my line of work, and with my interests, it’s important to me to learn about new technology. I’ve found, over the years, that the only way to really understand a technology is to use it. Before I got my iPhone, for example, I had a BlackBerry. When my BlackBerry broke (so little seems to last anymore), I got the iPhone, not expecting that much. Was I wrong! I was soon using lots of apps for lots of things I never thought a smartphone could do. But it took using the iPhone to learn this.

Second, the watch you wear does make a statement, and I like saying to the world that I’m interested in new things and particularly new technology. There’s actually been a recent study that says that having the latest technology conveys this image. I’ll take that; maybe it will counterbalance the effect of my glasses.

Finally, I’m intrigued about the health-monitoring stuff. I read (although I can’t find the link!) about a guy who saved his life because his heart monitor told him his heart was going too slow. The people at the hospital told him that if he hadn’t come in, he would be dead. I can get carried away with this: “Siri, I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up!” Maybe the new iPhone6plus is the big type version. But, hey, they call them emergencies because you get no warning. A little warning wouldn’t hurt.

On balance, then, it’s not up or down for the Apple Watch, at this point. But it does point out how things change.

 

Tim Haight
About the Author
I'm VP of Technology Services for CGNET. I love to travel and do IT strategic planning.

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