The Wrist

What belongs on your wrist: Apple Watch, or watch? I say watch.

I stopped wearing my Apple Watch on November 6th, 2016. It wasn’t an eventful day, a planned day, or even something which I put much thought into. But on that day, or perhaps the evening before, I was handed a gift — as some of you may have picked up on, my grandfather passed away recently — and my grandmother handed me my grandfather’s watch and said “I’d like you to have this.” It wasn’t expected, or something I had thought about. The watch isn’t particularly old, but it is the only watch he owned where I actually remember him wearing it all the time.

When you receive a gift like this, you take off that Apple Watch and you put on the watch you were gifted — it’s the polite thing to do — hell my grandmother probably would have hit me if I hadn’t. So I started wearing the watch all night, then the next morning I found a safe spot to keep the watch and dutifully put back on the Apple Watch.

An hour later, I took off the Apple Watch and put on my grandfather’s watch instead.

Why? What changed in that hour? Nothing, it was purely motivated by guilt, grief, and sentiment.

But fast forward a couple days and I found myself putting away the charging stand for my Apple Watch. I found myself not wanting, or caring, to wear the Apple Watch. My friend, Justin, went through a similar moment of clarity with the Apple Watch:

After wearing the Apple Watch for a few months I came to feel that, for me, at this point, it was just overkill. It didn’t add appreciably to the iOS experience, and frankly could even be a little annoying.

When I wear the Apple Watch I feel as though I am never out of contact. Tap, tap — your turn on this game. Tap, tap – someone made a joke about you in Slack. Tap, tap – unimportant text message. Tap, tap – news news news.

I’ve written before how the one thing I like best about the Apple Watch is the notifications — and that’s absolutely true. There’s simply no better way to get notifications than on the Apple Watch — they discretely get your attention in almost every scenario.

But only when I removed the Apple Watch did I realize the painful downside which came with how well the watch excels at notifications: it’s distracting as fuck.

I could never be heads down. I could never get fully “in the zone” when I wore my Apple Watch because I was always one tap tap away from being interrupted.

And in truth I used my Apple Watch for three things, in order of importance:

  1. Time
  2. Notifications
  3. Weather

I’ve always worn a watch, but it wasn’t until I started wearing a non-Apple watch again that I realized just how much it doesn’t matter to have #2 and #3 on your wrist. Because an Apple Watch is worthless without an iPhone nearby, and if my iPhone is nearby, then I have Notifications and Weather at a glance — hell I get more robust information from my phone than watch.

Pick up my iPhone and I see notifications, and with a simple flick of the switch it will never bother me when I am focusing. Pick up my iPhone and swipe to the widgets and I get more robust weather details than my watch ever provided.

Pick up my wrist and I see a fine timepiece which is never in a hurry to tell me what to do, but always there no matter how I pick up my wrist, or glance at the screen.

It turns out, the best watch is an actual watch.

Who knew…

It’s been over two weeks now since I gave up the Apple Watch. Since my activities rings froze in time. And I am finding peace in not constantly being tapped and told irrelevant things. I still use my iPhone — perhaps a tad more — but I choose when to use my iPhone instead of my iPhone choosing to tap me. (When on silent, my iPhone doesn’t even vibrate.)

Yes, I could turn all notifications off on my Apple Watch, and gain just weather, apps, and time. But then what’s the point? If you aren’t using notifications on the Apple Watch, or activity tracking (which I never cared about), then what’s the point on having an inferior thing on your wrist? There just isn’t one.

I’m glad I kept my watches. And my, how nice it is to not have to worry about charging my watch overnight. It takes some getting used to, getting back to checking your phone for missed alerts, but at the same time the entire thing is freeing.