Prior to yesterday's debut of the Apple Watch at Apple Stores, I had read a number of confusing reports about how simply seeing an Apple Watch in an Apple Store was going to be an arduous affair starting with having to first sign up online for a reservation just to see the new watch. It sounded like complete overkill. Then yesterday morning, before the official preview began in North America, I wanted to cover the Apple Watch reservation system experience. So I covered a report out of England. I was a little jealous at how easy it was to view an Apple Watch and thought that perhaps only Apple's Flagship Stores, like the one in London, were making the Apple Watch preview experience so easy. Not true. Later in the afternoon I went down to my local mall-styled Apple Store to check out if Apple had any Apple Watch units to view. Wow, the impressions from some media reports simply called it wrong across the board. The Apple Watch experience that I encountered was absolutely fantastic from start to finish.
First off, Apple has a huge Apple Watch display in the middle of the store so that you can basically see their three models: Apple Watch Sport, Apple Watch, and Apple Watch Edition. Each Apple Watch segment provides you with a look of different bands.
If that's not enough for you, Apple has at least a dozen test units alone one side of the Apple Store like the one illustrated below. A single Apple Watch is locked into the test unit and there's a walk through presentation that you control at your own pace on the left hand side. You can touch and test out the Apple Watch on the right to experience how the Digital Crown and side buttons work as well as see the new interface and apps unfold. The display is absolutely gorgeous and much brighter and crisper than I had imagined from online photos and videos.
While you're looking at the center Apple Watch table or are testing out the Apple Watch testers on the side of the store, an Apple Store representative will pass by and ask you if you want a quick in-store fitting session so as to experience your favorite watch on your wrist. I agreed and within 3 minutes I was called to a second table in the store dedicated to fittings.
The fitting experience couldn't have been any easier. The rep will ask you if you've had a chance to check out the Apple Watch table and pick a watch or two of interest to test out. The rep opens a drawer under the table that has built-in Apple Watch chargers for each watch as shown below.
My wife tried on the Apple Watch Sport and I tried on the Apple Watch with the Link Bracelet in Space Black Stainless Steel which is rather stunning once you see it. The rep removed a few links on the band so that it fit snug on my wrist in seconds flat. The bracelet is perfectly designed so that removing individual links on the band or putting them back only takes a second.
Although it's the most expensive band in the Apple Watch line up, it certainly makes an impression once it's on your wrist. Very manly, very cool. I'd recommend that every man at least try it on, even if it's a little out of your price range just to check out how fantastic a watch band this really is. Yes, take the time to experience the pure luxury of it all.
The only part of the Apple Watch experience that was missing was the rep not asking if I'd like to order one and quickly make the reservation for me on his handset. As one who believes that the Apple Store experience is all about promoting impulse buying, you're left hanging. It gives me a thousand reasons to not place the order online when I get home. A lot of potential sales could be lost in this process if you're not a devoted Apple fan.
While I'll place an order for the Apple Watch Sport that my wife wants later today, I'll personally hold off for at least Apple Watch 2.0 when it's likely to be 33% lighter and thinner, a feature or two richer and more apps to draw me in.
It's nothing against the Apple Watch as it's just my choice to never buy a first iteration of anything, let alone a watch over $1000. Yet for someone who really doesn't like a wristwatch of any kind to begin with, the Apple Watch experience definitely drew me in as most Apple products do when I'm in the store. Once it's on your wrist you want it. That's why not asking for the order is truly a missed opportunity for Apple. Even the reps were a little baffled at that, but that's the way it is for now, until further notice.
Even if you're not ready for an Apple Watch "fitting" you should get down to your local Apple Store to check out what you've been hearing and reading about for months. While Apple has a couple of great online "Guided Tour" videos to check out – nothing beats experiencing the watch and trying out the new interface first hand.
The bottom line is that the Apple Watch is easily viewable at your local Apple Store, contrary to some media reports that were published prior to Apple's preview that began yesterday. There's absolutely no hassle in seeing the watches at your own pace or using their testing units. Even getting a fitting session in-store set up for you is completely painless and quicker than you might think. In the end, I found that the in-store Apple Watch experience was perfectly paced from start to finish. If you have the time today, definitely check it out, you won't regret it.