The Apple Watch is absolutely beautiful. But, while using the Series 6, I was struck by a thought: will the design of the Apple Watch ever change?
The Curpertino-based company isn’t exactly known for its left-wing approaches to product design. It’s all about evolution, DIY and improvement. This leads to a clear aesthetic growth of its products.
Well, in everything except the Apple Watch.
Do not believe me ? Well, take a look at Series 1, released in 2015:
And now compare that to this year’s Series 6:
They are remarkably similar. The side button is now aligned with the body and the actual size of the Apple Watch has also changed (from 38mm and 42mm to 40mm and 44mm). Aside from that ? It’s strangely consistent.
And, just to note, I’m talking about external design here – obviously, the guts of the Apple Watch have grown considerably over the past five years.
To provide a comparison, take a look at the design of the iPhone 6 (which was released in 2015):
And the iPhone 12 of 2020:
Even a quick glance between the two images shows a slew of design evolutions – far more than Apple’s flagship laptop has undergone.
So why has the design of the Apple Watch remained so similar?
If we are to understand where Apple can go in the future with the design of the Apple Watch, we need to know why it has remained so static.
There are three main reasons: brand, function and personalization.
Reason 1: brand
The design of the Apple Watch has become classic.
Think of it like an AirPod. Apple wasn’t the first company to create a product in this vein and shape, but it popularized it. The Apple Watch owns people’s brain space. It’s recognizable, something you can spot from afar.
It’s so advanced that you can guarantee that any company creating a square smartwatch will receive accusations of plagiarism from Apple Watch, whether fair or wrong.
I could see Apple throwing away that level of product recognition, but to get there it takes better smartwatch design to pass. And that’s where the function comes in.
Reason 2: function
There’s a reason most screens are rectangular – it’s simply the most efficient shape for displaying information.
If you’re designing a smartwatch, you usually have two choices: a quadrilateral like Apple’s or something circular like the Samsung Galaxy Watch.
As great as Samsung’s laptop is, it just isn’t capable of functioning as a second screen in the same way as the Apple Watch. And it is a deliberate move. I think Samsung chose to forge its own path and move away from Apple by creating a wearable device that aligns more with standard watch design. In other words, he gives up some elements in order to prosper in others.
Now let’s think about Apple. Can you imagine how bad PR would be if the company went back to the fundamentals of its own Apple Watch design? But it is worse. If Apple were to change the shape of its laptop to something more circular, it should somehow offer better functionality with it than its current shape.
Which is impossible.
Reason 3: personalization
This is the reason why Apple has managed to keep the design of its watch so similar without a huge public outcry.
Throughout putting this part together, I realized something: the Apple Watch is designed to be a canvas. It is designed to be combined with bands and straps, which means that the users themselves can “design” it themselves.
Simply, there is no other Apple product that you can change the look of so easily.
You’ve got fancy metal clasps, classic leather clasps, comfy material straps, sports bands – and that only talks about what Apple has to offer, not to mention third-party options. If you want to get a feel for the variability, take a look here. Or on the Apple store.
When you consider this flexibility, it’s clear why the body design has barely changed: it doesn’t have to be. There is an almost limitless amount of aesthetic options – and Apple can always implement more.
Indeed, the design of the Apple Watch is clean enough and functional enough to allow users to imprint their own personality on the device. Why aim for a crazy design if that’s the goal?
What is the future of Apple Watch design?
Throughout the play, we’ve already scaled down a few things. We know, for example, that Apple is unlikely to adopt a circular design or change the shape drastically.
I was wondering if he would try to make the screen bigger to go around the edges of the device – similar to OPPO’s waterfall display – but I imagine those curved dots would be too likely to be damaged.
I’ll be honest: beyond tweaks like a bigger screen or slimmer profile, it’s hard to imagine Apple doing a wholesale design for the watch design. At least until technology advances.
Take the example of an exciting newcomer to the clothing market: the Nubia Watch, a device that I had the pleasure of using. Indeed, it is a connected watch with a flexible screen, so it bends about your wrist.
Although the quality of the touchscreen is not great, it does is impressive – and potentially a sign of things to come for the industry. I could see Apple building flexible display technology into the watch at one point.
Not anytime soon. In a decade, we might see a significantly different Apple Watch design, but I wouldn’t bet much on that. And that’s the gist here.
Apple is in no rush to change the design of its wearable. It’s functional, it’s recognizable and it’s beautiful. His sales are increasing and he seems more popular than ever.
Basically, why fix something that isn’t broken? And the design of the Apple Watch is in poor health.