Apple Watch turns 5: Did you know this is not the first watch Apple has designed?
That and four other cool things you did not know about the Apple Watch
Apple launched the first Apple Watch five years ago this week. The Apple Watch was Tim Cook's first high profile product launch after he took over from Steve Jobs. For Jobs, the Apple iPad was the last big product that he launched.
Over the last five years, we have seen the Apple Watch transform from being a niche smartwatch to a niche health-oriented smartwatch. It is still niche because it is one of the more expensive smartwatches out there and it does not work outside the Apple ecosystem unlike the Android smartwatches.
This ecosystem exclusivity is what makes the Apple Watch highly coveted. You see, you can't JUST buy the Apple Watch, you need an iPhone with it. And the AirPods, maybe. However, these specifics have not been able to hamper the Apple Watch's popularity. In fact, Apple sold more Apple Watches last year than the Swiss watch industry.
To mark its anniversary, here are 5 things you probably did not know about the Apple Watch:
Steve Jobs had nothing to do with the Apple Watch
The Apple Watch was Jony Ive's project from the word go. Steve Jobs was not involved in it at all since the initial talks about the project started a few months after Jobs passed away.
"The first discussion took place in early 2012, a few months after Steve's passing. It caused us to take time, pausing to think about where we wanted to go, what trajectory we were on as a company, and what motivated us," Jony Ive said in an interview with Hodinkee founder Benjamin Clymer.
"At that point in the journey, we were all routinely carrying around incredibly powerful products, in terms of their technical ability, in our pockets. And it seemed, I think, that an obvious continuation of this path that we've been on for so many years was to make technology more personal and more accessible," Ive said.
The Apple Watch was always supposed to be rectangular
Smartwatches have been toggling between square/rectangular dials and circular dials. However, Apple was very certain about the way it wanted to go. In a piece by New Yorker in 2015, Ive revealed that a "rectangle with rounded corners" was the way to go since it made sense for the Apple Watch.
"'When a huge part of the function is lists'—of names, or appointments— 'a circle doesn't make any sense', Ive said. Its final form resembles one of Newson's watches, and the Cartier Santos, from 1904," the article goes. The Newson mentioned here is Ive's friend Marc Newson.
The Apple Watch design has not changed in five years.
Apple consulted experts to create the Apple Watch
Apple is not big with consultants, it's rather secretive. However, for the Apple Watch, Ive had brought on a number of experts including his best friend Marc Newson. "This was highly unusual for us, speaking to anyone outside of our team early on in a product development stage. But, normally there are no parallel products from which to learn," Ive told Hodinkee.
Designer Marc Newson worked with horologists, curators, archivists, astrophysicists and even a lecturer. Ive talked about them all in the Hodinkee article.
"We knew there was so much to appreciate in this space that in order to ground ourselves, we had a series of people that helped. Just to begin to understand the historical space, having tremendous respect and deference for watchmaking," Ive said.
Apple sold more watches in 2019 than the entire Swiss watch industry
Well this bit you might just know. Apple shipped 30.7 million watches in 2019 as compared to a 21.1 million shipped by the Swiss Watch industry, according to a UK-based consulting firm Strategy Analytics.
Watch lovers will always gravitate towards classics, but despite this, Apple managed to make the world get up and pay attention to a smartwatch. That's something.
The Apple Watch is not Apple's first watch
It is the first smartwatch from Apple, but not the first watch. Apple made a watch in 1995 as an incentive for users to upgrade to the Macintosh system 7.5, or like we'd call it today - MacOS 7.5.
The watch came with a striking blue bezel, a scratch resistant glass, that classic rainbow Apple logo and MacOS embossed on the watch strap. The last feature is interesting since Apple dropped the System moniker and started calling the software MacOS soon after this.
The watch was a promo product so it was never sold, however, if you want to get your hands on one, you can try your luck on eBay. There just might be one floating around, however, it's going to cost you quite a bit.