A love letter to Apple Watch Ultra (or why we often want what we don't need)

Apple Watch Ultra
(Image credit: Bryan M. Wolfe / iMore)

After months of wanting one, I finally did it. I bought an Apple Watch Ultra. It's big, it's chunky, it has more features than I know what to do with and it'll never see a mountain, ocean, or almost any other kind of exercise.

And you know what? That's OK. It doesn't have to.

Buying things that can do all kinds of weird and wonderful things, and do them well, even if we'll never use them, isn't a new phenomenon of course. We've all been doing it for years. We just don't like to admit it to ourselves.

It's OK to just want something

Someone once told me that if we only bought the things that we needed and not the things we wanted, we'd all be miserable. I think there's something to that. Yes, that isn't something we can all do and I realize that some people can't spend money on niceties. But for those fortunate enough to be able to treat themselves, an Apple Watch is no different to buying a sports car or fancy sneakers.

Some examples.

People have been buying sports cars since they were a thing, and not because they take them to the redline or like to race them around the local track. Many of them never go any further than the local office block parking lot. But people like to know that they could if they wanted to.

It's the same for huge trucks and SUVs. How many, realistically speaking, ever see anything worse than a big puddle or haul anything larger than that flat-screen TV that was on offer for Black Friday? Sure, some are used for their intended purpose. But many more are sold because they are aspirational. They could do it if called upon.

It's a similar story in the traditional watch world, too. Thousands can be spent on Rolex diving watches like the Submariner, a watch that was actually built for taking to the bottom of the ocean. It's since become an icon, and a staple of many a high-end watch collection. I'd bet many get taken off before their wearers even wash their hands, let alone dive anywhere.

Then there's the Omega Speedmaster — otherwise known as the Moonwatch. It was blasted into space aboard Apollo XI in 1969 and you can buy one at your local mall today. It's pretty unlikely that you'll ever take it into space.

Apple Watch Ultra is no different

Apple Watch ultra underwater

(Image credit: Apple)

All of that, of course, brings me back to the Apple Watch Ultra.

Back when the Apple Watch Ultra leaked it was obvious to watch fans that this thing was designed to look like a diving watch. That was later backed up by Apple's marketing which sold the thing as exactly that. The crown guard gave it away, as did the large screen. It reminded me of other diving watches in my collection — like a smarter version of my Seiko diving watch, if you will.

I don't dive. I barely swim. I've been known to paddle once in a while, but only when the kids are around and only given the right conditions. Diving? It's just not happening. So why do I have multiple diving watches?

Because sometimes, just sometimes, we want what we want whether it makes sense or not. Sometimes a product has the perfect combination of style, finish, and features to hit the spot. Sometimes we can't even truly explain what it is that makes us want the thing. Like how you want that extra scoop of ice cream but know that you'll regret it immediately.

It isn't a matter of logic. It isn't a case of needs. And that's fine.

In the case of the Apple Watch, there are a few things that I can put my finger on.

First, there's the size difference. Yes, I know that in terms of pixels the display isn't a massive size bump over other Apple Watches, but the size of a watch isn't just about the size of the face. It's the case as well, and at 49mm this thing is chunky. Sometimes that isn't what you want. Oftentimes, it is.

The Apple Watch Ultra feels sturdy in a way no other Apple Watch does. It's unapologetically thick and as a result, it's robust. It feels like it could take a beating, much in the same way a Submariner does. It never will, hopefully. The worst mine will endure is a knock against my desk as I type. But it could, much like that sports car could, go fast around a track.

Another factor is something altogether more tangible — battery life. I forget my Apple Watch Ultra actually needs charging, which is pretty insane. But it happens. And then I charge it while I have a shower and the cycle starts all over again.

Next? I don't really know, to be honest. That's kind of my whole point here. I can't quite put my finger one why I like the Apple Watch Ultra so much beyond what I just mentioned. And that's fine.

Do I love my Apple Watch Ultra? No, that's something reserved for people, not a product. But there are similarities. In much the same way as you just love a child the moment it's born and can't explain why, I'm drawn to the Apple Watch Ultra for reasons I can't quite articulate.

So, what's your point?

Apple Watch Ultra and Seiko diver watch

(Image credit: Oliver Haslam / Future)

That's an excellent question and, after around a thousand words, one you deserve an answer to. I guess when we boil it down, it's all pretty simple.

Buy what you want, if you can. Don't get too caught up in features and benefits, whether one thing is better than the other, or whether you actually need that feature or not. Sometimes these things need to be less of a thought process, more of a reaction.

Whether it's an Apple Watch Ultra, a car, or just a nice piece of clothing — treat yourself. And don't sweat the details so much.

You deserve it.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.