Face Value

Some of my watches
Some of my watches

OK, let’s get one thing out of the way. Yes, I will be buying an Apple Watch. Probably. Most likely.

I’m not sure when, and it’ll certainly only be a final decision after I’ve had the chance to hold one in my hand and try one on my wrist, but for me it looks like it hits a sweet spot of design, user experience, and my continuing paring down of the artefacts of my life.

How does adding another gadget help with the latter? Let me explain.

As I mature, a phrase I prefer to use these days in preference to ‘get older’, I’ve been stripping away the superfluous items of my life and concentrating on items that hold some level of value, where that value may be judged on a monetary basis, through sentimentality, or just that is useful to me and gives me a better sense of value than something it is replacing.

The latter is most exemplified by a recent purchase of an OXO Can Opener. Whilst you may think £15 is a maybe a little on the steep side for a can opener I can confirm that each time I use it I know I have an item of value in my hand, it is well designed in every aspect, from the materials used to the implementation of the function. It is a far nicer experience to us that than the old one.

And I guess that’s where I place the most value, in the elusive qualities of a well designed object. It can be something simple like the can opener or a complex item like my car; true fact, one reason I bought my Honda Civic was because I preferred the feel of the switches over the Mercedes A-Class.

What can I say, I like the things I interact with to feel nice to use and yes I know that is entirely subjective (that’s why I won’t buy an Apple Watch until I’ve held one in my hands).

For me that’s why I’m such a fan of the Apple products I have. Whilst I have other gadgets by other companies – the Samsung smartphone issued by work is a nice enough piece of kit, as is my Kindle Voyage – but they aren’t things I appreciate, they are just things that fulfil a purpose. I appreciate the feel of my iPhone, the gentle clicks of the scroll wheel on my aging iPod Classic.

So I’ve been coupling my desire for nice user experience as I’ve slowly stripped back the things I own. I’ve been replacing items with a deliberation around things I WANT to use and through that journey it’s been interesting to observe how my aesthetic tastes have changed.

And that change is no better viewed through the history of my watches.

I’ve worn watches for as long as I can remember, from my first Swatch watch (a garish neon Fluomotions, hey it was the 80s!) through various Casio digitals (yes, including the calculator watch) which I largely got from the somewhat dubious source of the ‘left behind’ box in my Dad’s school (he was a P.E. teacher, amazing how many watches were left and never claimed!), through to the watches I own today.

It’s only been in the last 15 years or so that I’ve stopped viewing watches as purely utilitarian, that my eyes have been opened to the fact they are designed and can be worn to be admired.

The blue faced Skagen watch (in the image above) is the watch that turned me around on that, and whilst I’ve flip flopped back to more chunky models, I always end up back at the classic look, simple and functional but elegant in approach. So far my Braun watch (also pictured above) holds the place dearest in my (design led) heart.

I don’t tend to spend a lot of money on my watches, as they have been purely about how they looked and, if I’m honest, I prefer the more minimal designs.

I wear a watch almost every day, only taking it off when I go to sleep, when I’m on holiday, or if I’m just lazing about my flat. I currently have two in rotation, one for ‘day use’ which is a bit more run of the mill, the other for when I’m out and about as I feel it is more design led, prettier to look at and says more about me.

I always wear a watch and, as most people who know will attest, I am almost surgically attached to my iPhone. So it seems obvious that I will get an Apple Watch.

I’m more than happy with the way it looks, the cost I will either make my peace with or it will be the barrier. If I buy an Apple Watch would be the most expensive watch I’ve ever bought, but more than that it does seem that as my focus over the last couple of years has been around having less, of cutting down on the unneeded, simplifying the items in my life, it would be almost frivolous to buy another gadget that I don’t fully need.

Yet from what I’ve already heard the Apple Watch is actually a better fit to what I’m trying to do. Reports suggest it would mean less time on one gadget (my iPhone) and shorter bursts of more efficient time on another (the Watch). I already try and keep the notifications I get on my phone to a minimum and many only need a quick look, or glance, rather than an interaction.

This isn’t me trying to justify spending the money, what I’m really driving at it how much real use and value, might I get from an Apple Watch.

As I slowly step back from a lot of social media, and continue to slim down the things which I don’t perceive as offering me value, or items which don’t give me a nice experience, it might just be that adding something might be a better step forward.

I remain undecided. The gadget fan in me, my biggest distraction in my internal battle of wills when it comes to ‘having less’, is being held at bay by the price barrier for now. I’m using that time to try and assess whether I want an Apple Watch, need an Apple Watch (I don’t, but then I don’t really ‘need’ an iPhone either, right?), or whether the gadget fan is twisting my longer term desires to get something new and shiny.

Part of me is glad I can’t stump up the cash right now, part of me is glad that I will have the chance to ponder this over the coming months.

And yes, fine, I’ll admit it, there is a part of me that is already planning to get myself one under the guise of an early birthday present.

Time will tell I guess.

(pun unintended)