I've never felt insecure about my wrists before...
When Apple Watch was announced, I listened to prominent women in tech like Christina Warren, Serenity Caldwell, and Joanna Stern talk about how excited they were that Apple made a smartwatch with a smaller face option. These women have small, "feminine" wrists, so a giant 42mm face would look stupid on them. Hooray for 38mm options! Hooray for girly smartwatches that fit smaller wrists! Hooray for Apple "getting" it!
Here's the thing—not all women have dainty wrists. Not all men have large ones. Personally, I seem to have slightly larger wrists than your average man—maybe because I'm nearly six feet tall; maybe because I type 110+ WPM; maybe because I've put together too much Ikea furniture in my lifetime. Maybe because not all people are shaped and sized alike.
And while we're at it, not all women were born biologically female. Not everyone wants to be saddled with lesser battery life or drawing canvas size or tiny touch target accessibility as a tradeoff for a "feminine" or "dainty" look. And, most frustratingly, many people don't want to compromise on fashion in order to fit our preferred smartwatch face size.
Apple launched its watch with a seemingly diverse lineup of case sizes, metal finishes, and band choices. Like many consumers, I'm most interested in leather band options. There are three different types of leather watch band—something for everyone, right?
Not exactly. In case you've never noticed the lack of diversity in Apple's lineup, let's take a look at all the leather band offerings and their respective compatibilities.
We'll start at the more accessible leather band price point, the stainless steel "Watch" watch. The black Classic Buckle leather band is available across both face sizes. Yay! If you want a basic, boring, unremarkable-looking leather band, with a familiar buckle resembling that of a non-smartwatch, Apple has your back! Lucky you.
But if you like the Modern Buckle, in Black, Midnight Blue (navy), Soft Pink, or Brown, you're only going to be able to enjoy those if you went with a 38mm case. Not a single Modern Buckle band is available for the larger case size.
And what about that Leather Loop option? Personally, it's not my favorite look, but I still think anyone who likes it should be able to buy it. However, whether you like your Leather Loop in Brown, Stone, Navy, or Black, you're stuck with a 42mm case size if you want that band option.
Even the way these leather band options are displayed on Apple's website reads as gendered "women's" and "men's" models, particularly where the color options differ.
Let's look next at the elusive Edition lineup. In my opinion, the most delectable band options are found here—Red and Rose Gray Modern Buckles. Mmmm. Guess what size these fit? Yep, 38mm only. (I, for one, would gladly shell out the $249 for a standalone band with a buckle mismatched to my case metal, if only it meant I could rock Rose Gray or Red leather on my wrist. But, as we've established, I'd never go down a case size, so I don't get to make this bad financial decision.)
What if you're the sort of rich person who likes an understated look? What if you want a top-quality 38mm gold case with a non-smartwatch-style leather band, say, a Classic Buckle? Tough luck: the Classic Buckle with gold hardware, in Midnight Blue or Black, is only available to fit the 42mm case size.
Poor rich men who conform to Apple's gendered case size expectations, but yearn for the more entertaining color palette of the "ladies'" models. I wish you freedom from boring black and navy.
I get that this is an early launch and that many third-party options haven't hit the market yet. I get that I (a cisgendered, flashy-fashioned woman who happens to have bigger-than-average wrists) am currently stuck with bands made for men/unisex sizes—yes, even though women's clothing, shoe, and accessory lines from other companies fit me just fine. I get that Apple is breaking ground by offering some stuff that fits smaller wrists at all, which hasn't historically been an option in the smartwatch product category.
But Apple can do more. Apple can nudge this already complicated SKU lineup into an ever so slightly more complicated lineup, which better caters to a more diverse range of customers. Even if adding more SKUs slightly decreases the margins in this product category, I suspect Apple can take the hit—especially if the change yields a higher customer satisfaction rating. After all, if the product takes off and more kids start wearing Apple Watches, we'll need to see more diverse size compatibility options anyway.
Taking this band lineup from "complicated but lacking" to "slightly more complicated but far more diverse" would be a huge step. I'm hoping that when the Apple Watch is updated, we see a band lineup that has none of these gendered-feeling size and color restrictions.
Free yourself from boring watch band territory! Brightly colored leather Editions for all! Now we all just have to get rich before then!