Apple’s Instincts About the Watch Buyer Mentality Prove Correct

Apple Watch series 2

In May of 2015, when the Apple Watch first shipped, a few observers opined that it would be wise to buy the cheapest possible version, the Sport Watch. That’s because Apple would, they claimed, come out with a new model in 2016 that would callously make the original painfully obsolete. That would destroy any initial investment in high end models. It looks like Apple’s instincts, in contradiction to that notion, have proved correct.

Apple Watch series 2
Apple Watch series 2 makes modest advances. 2015 customers need not be depressed.

Watch buyers are a curious crowd. They buy a specific watch for different reasons than the iPhone crowd. The iPhone is all about technical progress while a watch is about style, quality, investment value, and the long run of an heirloom.

PSA: This is Not a Joke

In 2015, it was easy to surmise that Apple would upset that meme by soaking us for an expensive Apple Watch and then make it instantly valueless by coming out with a dramatic improvement in 2016. It would be thinner, more powerful and make the original look terrible. The conceit was that Apple had no institutional wisdom when it came to manufacturing a smartwatch for watch buyers.

The Apple Watch series 2 reinforces the idea that Apple has always been mindful of the psychology of the watch buyer. Perhaps that was an accident of technology as well. If so, then the two factors married well.

By that I mean that Apple has had great ambitions for the Apple Watch and customers, enamored by this fabulous new smartwatch, have had a taste of what might be. But it’s a small device with limited space and battery power. To make a version/series 2 that totally obsoletes the original would have been an impossible technical challenge. And so, given the engineering constraints and customer mindset, it makes perfect sense to offer the series 2 with only modest improvements.

Apple has jumped to #2 in watch sales.
Apple has jumped to #2 in watch sales. In just one year.

The Apple Watch case is iconic. That stays the same. Now it’s officially water resistant to 50 meters. It’s faster, has dual cores. It adds GPS. It’s easier to see in the daytime with a 1,000 candelas/square meter (nits) display.

But it’s not a product that will have original Apple Watch owners breaking out in tears.

In time, the future Apple Watches will eventually force most to upgrade. But for now, Apple has gracefully cast the engineering difficulty of a radical new product into a blessing. Apple Watch owners, of any model, can smile and confidently upgrade to the terrific watchOS 3. And be pleased.

All is right in the Apple Watch world.

13 thoughts on “Apple’s Instincts About the Watch Buyer Mentality Prove Correct

  • I like my AWS1 very much, and don’t feel the need to buy a new one just yet. It’s a 42mm Sport. A couple of small scratches on the glass near the edge, but otherwise unmarred by daily use.
    And I shower with it.
    I get comments on mine mostly when using Apple Pay. I’m pleasantly surprised to find that nearly all stores in the semi-rural south that I do business with support AP. Even though most don’t explicitly advertise it on their payment terminals. AP and Messages are my two killer apps, and AWS1 does both really well.

  • Dave. The original watch isactuslky water resistant with an IPX7 rating which means it is rated for upto 1 meter for 30 minutes. I think apple just didn’t want people to push the envelope. I swim with mine all the time in the pool, sometimes deport than 1meter but never more than 2. Typically if in the ocean I take it off but not always, typically just splashing with the kids.

  • I chuckled a little about the waterproof part. Got my watch before a beach vacation over a year ago. Did a little reading and came away convinced it was waterproof. Swam with it every day, in the pool, in the ocean, in the shower…. never worried a bit. I loved being in a dark pool and turning my wrist underwater to see the time, or a text. Now I find the darn thing really wasn’t waterproof? I’ve submerged it hundreds of times, and it just keeps on ticking. Coulda fooled me!! I guess when this one starts to look like a micro aquarium I’ll upgrade to one that is “really” waterproof.

  • I have had the first Apple Watch since it came out, and I really like the improvements Apple put into the series 2. I am especially happy that all the watch bands still work.

    However, I am curious to see how much of an improvement watchOS 3 is for my first generation Apple Watch. I don’t swim, or have a pool, so the splash-proofing of the first Apple watch works well for me. I have been caught in a couple of heavy rain storms here in Florida (which are basically monsoon drops), and the Apple Watch never missed a beat or had any damage.

    I am glad Apple built in GPS in the series 2, but I was hoping for more health sensors. Personally, I will see if watchOS 3 has a big improvement on my current Apple Watch, and if it does I will probably stay with it. If it seems the same, then I will probably get a series 2.

    Also, I noticed that the Series 1 says it has a “composite back”, while the Series 2 says it has a “ceramic back”. Did they do this because of some peoples sensitivity to the back material?

    Does anyone know if there is a way to turn in an Apple Watch and get credit for it like how a person can turn in an iPhone to the Apple Store when upgrading?

  • And, of course, Apple did NOT obsolete the original (as automakers typically do :).

    The original is still available, alongside the new one. Now, there’s product confidence for you!

  • Replacing an Apple Watch that is under AppleCare+

    The stores do not do direct exchange. From what I can find you contact AppleCare. They will send you a new watch overnight, and charge the fee, then you send your old one back. Of course you need to provide a credit card number and will be charged the full price if you do not send the old one back. I need to ruminate on it.

  • If you get it replaced with AppleCare, do they just fix the case or do they give you a new watch? If the latter, will they end up giving you the new Series 1 version with the new processor?

  • They added the feature that will have me upgrading! Water Resistant to 50 Meters….. Still would have like to see an all the time on readout in a small simple format that wouldn’t drain the battery…. Unless I missed it, looks like the battery remains unchanged….. Bummer. Selling the original to help defray the cost of the new one. 🙂

  • It looks like the gold Edition watch has been replaced with the ceramic one.

    I have a gold Sports model and it has some nicks and scratches. I am trying to decide wether to get it replaced via AppleCare or buy the new model. Tip, I have found that when doing some work that may damage the watch that slipping a wrist sweat band over it helps a lot.

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