I Don’t Wear My Apple Watch Everyday Anymore
I have always loved watches.
That’s not an exaggeration; as a kid, you could find me in the watch section of Wal-Mart as often as you could find me in the toy section. I’ve got cabinets full of cheap, dead watches that I don’t wear but I’ve stopped short of throwing out. I’m not sure why I’ve always been fascinated by timepieces, and it has for a long time been true that more often than not, you can find me not wearing any watch at all, but none of that ever stopped me from buying a new wristwatch.
Now, I’m not one of those people who will spend thousands of dollars on watches; that, to me, is absurd, especially when I see how hum-drum plain some of those expensive watches appear; if I’m wearing a watch, I want it to be interesting, and I don’t care if it says Rolex on the inside. The most I’ve ever spent on a regular (read: non-smart) watch was around $200, and to me, that was an extravagance.
If you’ve read many of my previous works on Medium, you’ll know that one of my other big loves in life is technology. And naturally, when tech started to make watches do more than tell the time, I was intrigued. It didn’t take me long to get a Pebble watch when they first came out; after all, I’d spent many summer days as a kid wearing my cheap Wal-Mart watches and pretending I could talk to people on it or whatever made me feel more like Maxwell Smart or Inspector Gadget (both played by Don Adams, btw). But the smartwatch I always wanted was Apple’s own (even before they made it; I was one of those people who wore my 6th-gen iPod Nano as a watch).
The Apple Watch is a damn useful device. But it isn’t really the most useful device for me.
Since their debut, I’ve owned two Apple Watches: the Series 3 and the Series 6. My Apple Watch has been my constant companion. But lately… lately I’ve realized how little I actually use it. This discovery hit me completely by surprise, too; just a few months ago, I called the Apple Watch "the most useful gadget I own”. I praised it for its health tracking capabilities, its rich notification functions, music controls, silent alarms, and timers, etc., and so forth.
But while I loved these features, I have come to realize that I don’t use most of them. I rarely check my health metrics day-to-day, for example, only pulling up the health app when I’ve actually done some strenuous work or when I feel a little off. That’s fine, though, because the Apple Watch still tracks those metrics and saves them for whenever I do feel the need to look at them. But I also rarely read my messages on the watch and I almost never reply to them there; more often than not, if I’m not using my phone when my messages come in, I’m using my MacBook or my iPad, both of which also mirror those messages.
I don’t use Siri on my watch; despite my childhood fantasies of being able to talk to my watch, in practice, I’ve found that it is simply awkward, especially in public places. I don’t use the Walkie-Talkie feature for the same reason; people around me don’t need to hear what I and my friends are talking about. I don’t even use the calculator, even though the old Casio calculator watch was the watch to have when I was growing up. In fact, scrolling around the apps list on my Apple Watch, I’ve realized that I never, ever open a single one to use them on the watch.
In fact, on a daily basis, I really only use three things from my Apple Watch: I use timers when I go on a break at work, I use the silent alarm feature to wake up in the morning without waking my wife, and I use the music controls when listening to tunes on my phone. But frankly, I can also set a timer on my iPhone, my wife won’t kill me if my alarm clock wakes her up, and I really only use those music controls when I’m doing something like washing dishes or mowing the lawn where I would have to stop to whip out the phone.
What I’m realizing here is that where I once considered my Apple Watch to be my most useful tech gadget, I’m actually barely using it at all. And the few things I do use it for aren’t exactly things that only the Apple Watch can handle.
I did a little test this past week just to see how much I actually interact with the Apple Watch. After all, when I previously claimed that my Apple Watch was the greatest thing since sliced bread, I also mentioned how much of an improvement the Series 6 was over the Series 3. And I do stand by that claim; with the bigger, always-on screen, better battery life (by comparison only), and newer sensors (like ECG and blood oxygen, the latter which made the Series 6 a bit of an impulse purchase given our current pandemic), the Series 6 is hands-down better than the Series 3. But I still have my old Series 3 kicking around the house (for whatever reason, Apple wouldn’t take it for trade-in). It’s older, it’s bulkier, it’s space gray instead of the beautiful red of my Series 6, and I paired it to my iPhone again and wore it instead of the Series 6 for a few days.
That was honestly when I realized that I’d greatly over-exaggerated the usefulness of the Apple Watch in my day-to-day activities; aside from having to deal with a boxier, smaller screen and a little bit of lag from time to time (not to mention the lack of my favorite California-style watch face), there wasn’t a single thing that I wanted to do on the watch that the Series 3 wasn’t capable of. Not once did I miss any of the added features of the Series 6.
After discovering that my Apple Watch wasn’t as useful as I once thought it to be, I also began experimenting with not wearing one. Some days, I’d swap it for a regular watch, but others I wouldn’t wear anything on my wrist at all (it is good to give your wrist some breathing room, after all). On those days, I’d wear my Apple Watch only when I specifically wanted one of its features, such as to bed to wake up with a silent alarm the next morning, or to track exercise and provide music controls while cutting the grass. And similar to how I didn’t miss the Series 6 while wearing the Series 3, I also found that I didn’t miss the Apple Watch at all when I wasn’t wearing it.
This realization gave me a sort of freedom; for a long time, I’ve been shackled to the Apple Watch, feeling that I had to wear it all the time in order for it to track things and do its job. But now that I understand how little I actually use those metrics and features, I’m free to choose not to wear my Apple Watch. And that leaves my wrist open for other watches to be worn.
I still love watches, you see. I never stopped loving them. I still love regular, analog watches, watches that only tell me the time and look damn good while doing it. Watches that I don’t have to charge every night, that aren’t vying for my attention every time someone texts me or when it thinks I need to get up and walk around or breathe or go to sleep. I still love watches that don’t look like the things everyone is wearing (if you are reading this in public, look around, I guarantee someone is wearing an Apple Watch nearby… maybe it is even on your own wrist).
Despite how this may sound, I’m not giving up the Apple Watch. Not totally. I still think it is useful at times, and frankly, once I’m no longer working from home, I might find myself using the Apple Watch a bit more so that I don’t have to have my phone out in the office. But for me, this is an argument for not wearing it every day, for allowing my wrist to be bare, or better yet, to have another timepiece on it for a while.
The Apple Watch is a damn useful device. But it isn’t really the most useful device for me, and because of that, I think it might actually be my least favorite of Apple’s gadgets that I own.
Having been so used to wearing an Apple Watch- or some form of smartwatch- for so long, giving up the Apple Watch as a daily device does come with a few quirks, but it is mostly about breaking habits than anything else.
For example, as I’m writing this story I’m wearing a Nixon watch that- out of the corner of my eye- could pass for the Apple Watch on my wrist. It has about the same weight and feel, a similarly shaped watch face (at least, when glancing down at it in my peripheral vision without the aid of my glasses, which I am blind without), and unless I’ve triggered the backlight, the face appears almost entirely black, just as the Apple Watch without an always-on display.
The biggest “hurtle”, if I can even call it that, is realizing that the Nixon watch- along with any other watch I wear- does not have any sort of raise-to-wake function (or even tap-to-wake). Therefore, a moment passes from when I raise my wrist to see the time before I remember that A) the screen isn’t going to light up on its own, B) the time is already staring back at me, and C) I need to press the button to trigger the backlight if I can’t read it.
Likewise, I’ve almost tried to check the weather on my watch a couple of times, wondering how long, exactly, it is going to continue raining outside (I’m not like most people… I want it to continue raining all day, all week, all month… as long as I don’t have to go anywhere, I absolutely love the rain). But alas, my watches from Nixon, Swatch, or Neff have neither the means nor inclination to tell me what the weather is like.
These may sound like drawbacks, they may sound like complaints, but I assure you, they aren’t; simply, I just need to get used to the idea that my watch is only there sometimes to tell the time. After all, it’s not like my iPhone isn’t right next to me, capable of telling me all that I want to know and more.
And even through years of wearing smartwatches, I still find that I pull my phone out to check the time all the time.