After a weekend of travel, I finally got a chance to visit the Apple Store to "officially" try on the Apple Watch. Despite having already placed my preorder — a 38mm Sport with White Sport Band, along with a separate Milanese Loop — I came prepared with a list of watches I wanted to try, just to try them.
In addition to trying on a variety of preset Watch/band combos, the in-store specialists let me actually swap out a few 38mm Watch bands on the 38mm Sport body. Here's how the Milanese looks on the Sport, along with a few other in-store comparisons (and a quick Siri test).
Even though I've gotten to play with the Watch twice before now — during the September and March events — the in-store try-on experience is a very different beast. Much less rushed, more time to experiment with different styles, and room for exploration.
Before we got to the actual try-on, my Apple Watch guide chatted a bit with me up-front about the Watch styles I was interested in. (Turns out, when you favorite Watches on the website, they also populate during a try-on appointment. This way, the specialists can know what models you've been considering.)
I mentioned I'd pre-ordered, but I wanted to see other bands and combos as well, and she was absolutely accommodating. It probably helped that I visited a smaller store in the Boston metro area — when I booked my appointment, there were plenty of other Watch try-on slots on either end of my time, so there was no urgent rush to get me in, out, and on my way.
Sport vs Watch
First thing I really wanted to do was compare the casings of the 38mm Watch vs the 38mm Sport. I picked up the Sport on pre-order for a number of reasons, but it's hard not to love the Watch's steel casing — it's beautiful from behind glass, but looks even better in person, especially when compared to the Sport.
Which isn't to say that the Sport doesn't have its own perks. Far from it. It's much lighter both in the hand and on the wrist than the Watch, and the price tag makes the cost of Apple's newest accessory a little easier to swallow. Plus, it looks pretty great with most of the Watch's bands.
The Sport and other bands
Though I got to try on several Watch band combos throughout the appointment — including the 42mm with the leather loop, both of which I was pleasantly surprised by — I mentioned my real interest being in checking out how the Milanese looked on the Sport. My Watch guide had no problem doing this, and quickly went to work, letting me play with the bandless Steel body in the meantime.
It really is a gorgeous piece of tech.
After a a few seconds, my Watch guide had everything set and ready to put on.
The Milanese remains deftly elegant when paired with the Sport, even with the slight color clash between aluminum and steel on the pins. Those scientists in the audience shouldn't worry too much about galvanic corrosion: When we've asked in the past, Apple told iMore that both Watch and band pins are coated to prevent such a thing.
Though I've also tried the Modern Buckle with the aluminum casing, I think the Milanese has a classier look as an accessory band than its leather sibling — it blends more seamlessly with the casing, and you can't beat its $149 vs $249 for leather price tag.
Though I didn't try this combination in the store, you can mix the Milanese with the Space Grey Sport and get similarly delightful results. From Franz Bruckhoff on Twitter:
Hey, Siri (and other tests)
While in the store, I also spent some time playing around with live Watch features on the demo tables. My biggest curiosity was Siri's effectiveness — it's sometimes touch-and-go on my phone, but much more crucial on the Watch for daily tasks.
Surprisingly, even in a noisy store standing several feet from the display table, Siri performed effortlessly. I asked the Watch for a few sets of directions (though it wouldn't actually let me connect to navigation, being a demo unit), dictated a few quick text messages, and even went on a long, rambling dictation to see just how well Siri picked up on very quick speech.
Answer: remarkably well. (The only mixup was "and I" in place of "where I".)
Overall, my appointment left me more excited to actually start using the Watch when it (hopefully) arrives on my doorstep next Friday. Watch try-ons are a great way to feel out how the device will actually feel and look on your wrist, and they also give you time to explore parts of the OS and system apps you may not quite yet understand. If you're considering or pre-ordered an Apple Watch, I highly recommend it.