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What Design, Tech, and Business Experts Really Think of the Apple Watch


Photo: Courtesy of Apple

On April 24, the Apple Watch will be released for sale, with preorders beginning April 10. After all of Apple’s courting of the fashion world, will the wearable be as covetable as it purports to be? We’ve already given you our thoughts on the Apple Edition watch, now hear what several tech and watch experts—from a professor of design at Stanford University to the CEO of LVMH’s watch division—think below.

Barry Katz, consulting professor in the design division at Stanford University:

There’s a big buzz in the Valley. Everyone’s asking, “What’s the next technology we can put on our bodies?” How should I put this delicately: “What’s the next anatomical orifice we can find to jam something into?” The Apple Watch is absolutely not the first wrist-mounted technology, but there’s been a path toward extreme miniaturization. It’s inevitable that things are going to migrate from the desktop to laptop to palm to the wrist. The first generation will have software flaws and idiosyncrasies that people won’t like, but I think it’s an announcement that the wrist is now an eligible piece of property for the next generation of technology.

My tendency is to believe that once you see something, however ugly or ludicrous or glitchy, that should signal that the next generation will be less glitchy, less ugly, [and] the software a little more stable. We are at the point in technological history that the mere announcement of an idea is a pretty good indicator that it will happen. But it will take a designer like Jony [Ive] to give it the kind of form to gain acceptance among a general population and not just geeky engineers at Intel in the ’70s or young urban yuppies with too much disposable income in the ’90s. That’s where the Apple Watch is headed. Although I think it’s too expensive.

Jean-Claude Biver, CEO and president of LVMH Watches Worldwide:

The Apple Watch has the Apple DNA and is immediately recognizable as being an Apple Watch. I believe that whoever achieves to link a new design to the general DNA of the brand and make it immediately recognizable has done a great job. The rest, like for instance, “I like it very much [or] I don’t like it,” is totally secondary.

It might split the industry in two. On one side, the “eternity” heritage from the Art of Making Watches, which are watches that will be working and be repairable in 1,000 or more years. And on the other hand, we might have the “obsolete,” which are all the technology watches born from an industrial process and condemned to become obsolete when the process is changed or improved. Those two trends—eternity and obsolete—are not competing one against each other, but are rather complementary.

Steve Bock, president of Bedrock Manufacturing at Shinola:

There is no doubt that the Apple Watch will bring even more interest to the world of wristwatches, and the idea of wearing technology will create much conversation and success. Apple does an amazing job of updating their technology annually as existing products become obsolete, and the consumer will be able to buy a new watch every year to stay on trend with their current technological advances. Shinola incorporates a very different approach in that our watches, all built in Detroit, carry a lifetime warranty, as they will remain relevant and desirable for years to come.

—Austen Rosenfeld,

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