Apple's smartwatch is a beautiful piece of hardware, whether you're looking at it in aluminum, steel, or gold. It has some depth to it, like most first-generation products are wont to do, but it carries it off with class — looking more like an original iPhone than a boxy prototype.
And best of all, it's one of few smartwatches to come in different sizes. As someone who had the Moto 360 overflowing atop her wrist, I appreciate that the design team behind the Apple Watch recognizes a key point about watch fittings: They need to be just as comfortable as — if not more than — they are functional.
Fitting like a glove
I desperately wanted a Pebble Watch when its Kickstarter first launched a few years back. I loved the idea of instant notifications and third-party app integration. But I had a problem: The watch simply wouldn't fit me.
My wrists are approximately 147mm around; 51mm across. The original Pebble is 50.8mm. I'd suspected my wrists would be too tiny for the first-generation watch during the Kickstarter and thus, didn't order one. When I finally tried on a friend's Pebble years later, I was right: The Pebble's edges hung off either side of my wrist like a 1980s communicator.
No, it's not a terrible look if you're going for science-fiction cadet or hacker mastermind, but completely impractical for day-to-day wear.
The Moto 360 (and many of the other Android Wear watches) are in a similar boat: The semi-circular smartwatch is 46mm in diameter. Smaller than the Pebble, yes, but its round face makes it look positively gargantuan. I had it on for just five minutes before feeling like one of those cartoon characters shackled to a giant sundial.
That's not to say that the Pebble or the Moto aren't good watches, or that they haven't delighted thousands of other people. But for me — and, I suspect, the many other small-wristed folks in the world — they fell far short.
Here's the thing: As much as I love bleeding-edge technology, I also like being comfortable. I may have ogled the 17-inch PowerBook back in the day, but the weight and dimensions of such a monstrocity weren't worth its power and screen size.
I feel the same way about wearables: If I'm going to keep a device routinely attached on my wrist, it needs to feel and look comfortable as well as functional. If I feel like I'm wearing a fancy weighted handcuff, they blew it.
42mm — almost perfect
Apple surprised me on two fronts when they announced their sizing. Not only were there two sizes — small wrist-owners rejoice at last! — but the largest size was a mere 42mm, smaller than most touchscreen smartwatches on the market.
Now, I'd assumed automatically that I'd go for the 38mm, given my wrist diameter, but then I inadvertently wound up wearing two different 42mm Edition watches during the try-on area at the March Apple event. And it wasn't terrible.
I'd expected to feel the same sort of overweighted sag and have it look clunky on my wrist, but the 42mm's rounded rectangular corners and band definition only made it look a little bulkier than its 38mm cousin. It was nice enough that I even considered it as a pre-order option when weighing my choices.
At the end of the day, I picked the 38mm because not only does it work just as well as the 42mm, but it looks like a watch — not a smartwatch — when sitting on my wrist. If I'm going to wear something every day, it needs to feel natural no matter what else I'm wearing with it: dress, workout clothes, business clothes, loungewear, you name it.
The 42mm, on my wrist, looks a lot less clunky than any other piece of smartwatch tech I've tried — but it still feels more like a piece of technology than a trusted accessory. The 38mm, for me, strikes the perfect balance.