The case for a chunky Apple Watch.

I’m officially looking forward to the release of the Apple Watch. I’ve been dabbling with a Pebble Steel since late last year, and now, the experiment having proved valuable, I’m totally ready to take the practice of wearing a smart device to the next level.

One of the hallmarks of Apple device updates is the relentless march to unyielding thinness. We’ve all seen it, and it’s unavoidable. The current crop of iOS devices are almost impossibly thin, and I’m sure the following refresh cycle after the next “S” update will melt our brains even further. This week on ATP the notion of the Apple Watch getting thinner as it progresses was brought up as part of the conversation surrounding upgrades and future iterations of the hardware. And in that moment, something truly horrifying spread across my mind.

I absolutely do not want a thinner Apple Watch. In fact, depending on how I feel about this initial hardware offering, there’s a chance I may even want a bigger one.

I am a chunky watch fan. I like big metal watches, and I have a nice little collection of Casio G-Shocks and other sport watches. I’m a surfer, and I like my stuff to be fairly rugged, with the exception of the one or two watches I’d call my “fancy lad” varieties. (Even still, we’re talking about a nice Fossil or something, not a Submariner.) Like everyone else, I eyeballed the sizing of the two models once they appeared on the store, and there was no doubt in my mind that 42mm was the size for me. I heard Myke mention on Connected that he’d heard the 42mm was about the same size as the Pebble Steel that he and I both currently sport, and I looked at my wrist and smiled. I’d be fine if it was even a little bigger, as the watch I bought most recently prior to the Steel was an enormous blue-grey G-Shock that was borderline silly for my modest avian wrists, but I still love it.

I have never liked thin, flat watches. They felt lacking to me. No matter how nice or cool looking they might be, I detest their presence on my arm. They have no place in my world, and I shun them. Shun. Chunk is life. Long live chunk.

But here’s the thing: Apple doesn’t like big and chunky. It stands to reason that the only rationale behind the current case size of the watch is that they needed that much room for components. Based on the company’s track record, a safe bet would be to assume that each successive model will get thinner and more svelte. Which is, admittedly, right up someone’s alley. Probably a lot of someones, if I’m being honest. But I also know I’m not alone in my love of big watches. There’s a big, wonderful world full of people who want small assault vehicles on their wrists.

So the question becomes: is this a typical Apple device that follows the same slimming pattern, or does the mere fact that it is an entirely new class of hardware based strongly in personal fashion set it apart? Will Apple cater to the aesthetic desires of both types of people? Will thinnies get their metal potato chip eventually while I am able to buy a tiny internet-connected Hummer if I so desire? I’m emboldened by the variety of options available at this initial launch, which makes me think that Apple has already considered something like this. I also know that if they haven’t, and the device follows the typical pattern, my first-gen watch will eventually (sooner than later, I’m sure) become woefully behind the times technologically as well as in terms of basic watch performance (battery).

As such, I am all in for right now. This watch is the right size for me, right now, and I expect to like it a hell of a lot. I mean, I like the Pebble enough, and it’s essentially a digital Post-It note right now. I’m sure the Apple Watch will be terrific. But will it remain my awesome chunky friend, or turn into a skinny friend who can’t stop talking about all the weight he/she lost even though you know all about it, and the truth of the matter is they were more fun when he/she didn’t care about weight so much?

I guess I’ll have to wait and see.

03-15-2015, 2:15 PM Rene makes a good point (he usually does) in saying Apple will want “lighter” and thinner is a factor of that. My feeling is that if this is positioned not as a device we carry, but one we wear, in watches, “heavier” often indicates a higher standard of quality. Lightweight watches that aren’t specifically purpose-based (i.e. lighter for a reason, or sport models) often can feel “cheap” to someone used to something with more heft. Again, the question is: what kind of device does Apple believe it is producing–a consumer electronic, or a fashion appliance?

Author: Seth Clifford

I'm here for the open bar.