I just had an interesting Twitter chat with Joe Macirowski about our various Apple Watch impressions. Joe said the 42 mm watch face was nicer to use, but that the 38 looked like jewelry, which he preferred. This seems worth exploring to me. Because I don’t *want* my smartwatch to look like jewelry.
I definitely think Apple’s smartwatch is the most elegantly designed product in wearable tech. I haven’t spent loads of time up close with any Pebble, but I’ve seen them enough to know that they’re not quite there for me, aesthetics wise. I dislike every fitness band and Moto thing I’ve laid eyes on.
If I could afford one of the swankier Apple Watch versions (likely the Rose Gold Edition with the Rose Gray band), I’d be much happier with the aesthetics… but ultimately, I still want the thing to *look like tech.*
I don’t wear a watch now. I haven’t worn a watch since the early 2000s, when I had a cheap stainless steel Fossil tank watch designed (I think) to knock off some high-end Cartier model. I started carrying a cell phone shortly after buying this watch, so I mostly wore that watch because it helped me look and feel and be more professional.
I was young—fresh out of college—and I was applying for jobs wearing a suit. (It’s sort of a trauma-induced thing after being sexually harassed by one of my first bosses—the more professional and serious you seem, the less likely you are to get hit on when the clock hits 5:01. Or so I told myself.)
I was also trying to be part of a corporate world that I didn’t yet realize wasn’t for me. I didn’t know what I wanted career-wise, but the work I found was administrative stuff in law offices and dressier-seeming corporations.
I didn’t yet know software was Land of the T-Shirt; I didn’t know games were Land of the Combat Boots. (I also didn’t know that both were fields where you’d get sexually harassed as a woman no matter what you wore, perhaps even more so than the aforementioned law offices.) I didn’t know I liked software or games or helping people figure out their online dating profiles. I was new at this whole Being Adult thing.
Wearing a watch on my wrist meant I was trying to display affluence, togetherness, formality—traits I didn’t actually possess at the time. Now I wear what I want and what flatters me for entirely different reasons… and I’m a hell of a lot better at spotting and shutting down harassers. (It helps that I left working in an environment full of the kind of day-to-day microagressions all women in tech face all the damn time. Sorry to make this watch post slightly political, but you know, it’s still depressingly relevant, so.)
Now, if I were to wear a dumbwatch, it would be almost entirely for aesthetics. It would have to be SO attractive (and water-resistant and easy to read) that I didn’t mind it getting in the way when I typed, or the extra weight it put on my wrist. It would have to kick ASS design-wise, and somehow still be affordable for my tiny indie budget.
Apple’s smartwatches are very pretty, but they’re not THAT pretty—especially not the ones I can afford. Therefore, I want the biggest watch face possible on a smartwatch, not just because it’s easier to read and use, but also because I want a watch that screams “I AM TECHNOLOGY!”
I want my smartwatch to make it clear that I didn’t buy a watch like this because *that’s my taste*—hell no. (If it were purely up to taste, I’d be in a thick Cartier tank watch with a band made from some kind of magically-no-longer-threatened species’s leather.) I want a smartwatch to communicate at a glance that this is a compromise between form and function. That I have better taste than that when it comes to actual decorative jewelry.
And hey, as a woman interested in tech, it doesn’t hurt to wear a new first-wave gadget that automatically telegraphs a certain geeky streak and technical prowess to the men I meet at conferences and events. Plenty of them still assume from my gender and appearance that I’m less educated, intelligent, capable, technical, etc. than the men at the table.
A watch that screams TEEEECCHH does me a lot of little favors socially and professionally. My old dumbwatch tried to convince people I was something I’m not, whereas a smartwatch that looks like tech tries to help people understand who I actually am.
Edited to add: since you read all the way here, I’m including bonus content. Lucky you! (?)
— Jordan Arnold (@naldien) November 5, 2014