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How Apple Watch Is Really a Regression In Watchmaking 415

Nerval's Lobster writes Apple design chief Jony Ive has spent the past several weeks talking up how the Apple Watch is an evolution on many of the principles that guided the evolution of timepieces over the past several hundred years. But the need to recharge the device on a nightly basis, now confirmed by Apple CEO Tim Cook, is a throwback to ye olden days, when a lady or gentleman needed to keep winding her or his pocket-watch in order to keep it running. Watch batteries were supposed to bring "winding" to a decisive end, except for that subset of people who insist on carrying around a mechanical timepiece. But with Apple Watch's requirement that the user constantly monitor its energy, what's old is new again. Will millions of people really want to charge and fuss with their watch at least once a day?
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How Apple Watch Is Really a Regression In Watchmaking

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  • by daemonhunter ( 968210 ) on Thursday October 30, 2014 @03:02PM (#48271887)

    I take my watch off at the end of the day. I put it on in the morning. How big a difference is it to set it "on a charger on my nightstand", instead of just "on my nightstand?"

    Much ado about nothing.

    • by RevSpaminator ( 1419557 ) on Thursday October 30, 2014 @03:07PM (#48271963)
      Years ago, when I wore watches, they had to be waterproof because I never took them off. One less thing to have to f' with in the morning.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by eneville ( 745111 )

        The watch should keep good time. If the battery requires a recharge, then should one forget and pull an all-nighter, does the timepiece become less accurate?

        I don't see why some of the functions could be sacrificed to provide longer battery. That'd suit most people I imagine. I welcome the day when all smart phones can go upwards of two weeks with normal use before needing a charge. The Moto G can go most of the week between charges and I use it a fair bit to ssh to my mail server to check mail, irc, web lo

      • As a child I had a Casio solar digital watch. Wore it for weeks. I liked the white ring it made on my arm during the summer. But after a month or so, running around sweating with the watch on, I took it off. A green ring of fungus had formed.

        I stopped wearing watches that day.

    • I don't take my watch off at the end of the day. I only ever take it off to shower. Hell, I keep it on in the ocean.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 30, 2014 @03:08PM (#48271975)

      It's a big enough fuss that people stopped using mechanical watches in the first place.

      • by Wycliffe ( 116160 ) on Thursday October 30, 2014 @03:23PM (#48272209) Homepage

        It's a big enough fuss that people stopped using mechanical watches in the first place.

        People stopped using mechanical watches because other watches were better. Also many
        high quality mechanical watches self-wind as long as you wear them. Not wearing them
        is actually a problem. They actually sell special cases to wind mechanical watches when
        not in use: http://www.rakuten.com/prod/4-... [rakuten.com]

        If the apple watch is better (in any sense of the word) then it has a chance. The only problem
        I see with nightly charging is that (at least with smart phones), that usually means that
        heavy users have to charge midday which IS a pain.

        • by dublin ( 31215 )

          Lots of us have gone *back* to mechanical watches. I'm especially fond of the wonderful Seiko 5 automatic (self-winding) series. Seiko doesn't sell these through their usual US channels, but Amazon and others have them (and Amazon substitutes thier own warranty for Seiko's original - this is a pretty safe bet, as these things are extraordinarily well-built for the money). A good, basic Seiko 5 can be had for as little as ~$50. At that price, they're understandably popular with those who want to hack and

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jedidiah ( 1196 )

        Nope. This iWatch is even inferior to mechanical watches.

        A good mechanical watch will wind itself. All you have to do is wear it regularly.

        • Even if you have to wind it,.you can wind it while watching the 10pm news, or having that evening snack or at your computer...
          The apple watch you have to plug at wherever you put the charger.

    • by Beriaru ( 954082 )
      I have a mechanical, automatic, waterproof watch.

      Other than adjust the time once a week, I don't have to take it off. I like my wearables to be old school.

    • by MouseR ( 3264 )

      On my 15th work anniversary at my current employer, I was awarded a Blue Angel edition Citizen Skyhawk watch. It's got an EcoDrive invisible solar cell under the watch face. Never hard to recharge it. Never lost a minute. Never worn a watch since I was 18 (I kept loosing them) but nowadays feel like I'm missing something if I dont have that watch when I go out.

      The Apple Watch thing is kinda dreadful in design but that's subjective.

      The real let down is the charging thing. I long ago ran out of power outlets

    • How big a difference is it to set it "on a charger on my nightstand", instead of just "on my nightstand?"

      That's fine as long as the watch doesn't track your sleep. I had a Basis smart watch, and having to take it off to charge it daily was a definite shortcoming. For a watch w/o sleep tracking, your solution is fine.

    • by Krojack ( 575051 )

      I sleep with mine on because it also tracks movement in my sleep. I find it generally handy.

    • by goombah99 ( 560566 ) on Thursday October 30, 2014 @03:39PM (#48272435)

      Analogously, cell phones are a throwback to old crank phones because you have to charge them before you use them. We used to have perfectly good powered land lines. Cell phones with their short battery lives and constant attention are for eclectic hobbyists I'm sure.

      And don't get me started about notepads when a paper and pencil pad can store your information for a century or more with no format changes impairing data retreival. current ipads are the equivalent of undecipherable babelonian cuniform clay tablets. Ludicrous anyone would want to go back to such fragile formats for information storage

      • by bondsbw ( 888959 ) on Thursday October 30, 2014 @04:13PM (#48272799)

        Would people complain as much if Apple called it the Apple WristComputerWithTouchScreenAndBluetoothSpeakerAndHealthMonitoring?

        I mean, that's what it is. But Apple's marketing decided on a somewhat better name.

      • Early mobile phones would stay charged for a week or two, easily. Today the "smart" phones need more frequent charging even if you're not using them that much.

        • Err no. Early mobile 'phones had poor battery life and were like bricks: I had one.

          That didn't improve until the generation of 'phones that included the Nokia 2110. But those were not 'early mobile phones' by any stretch.

    • by mlts ( 1038732 )

      Even with some self-winding watches, they require a funky gyroscope case on a nightstand to get and stay powered up.

      It would be nice if the watch could go longer without a charge, however.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Beck_Neard ( 3612467 )

      How much of a fuss? You can forget to charge. You could be somewhere where you have no charger. You're forced to carry a charger around when traveling.

      Of course none of these are atrocities, they make me think why I would want such a device, when my existing watch does exactly what I want it to do and does it reliably. Is checking emails really worth it? Those who complain about 'first world problems' would do well to think about their own first world problems, of which the need to have your emails/messages

    • by sjames ( 1099 )

      Winding wasn't that much fuss either but people wanted it gone. In part because forgetting to wind was also quite easy, as is forgetting to charge.

      Of course when traveling with a watch, winding doesn't require you to pack a winder.

  • by Hammeh ( 2481572 ) on Thursday October 30, 2014 @03:02PM (#48271889) Homepage
    Has there been some change over recent years that has made phones hard to get out of your pocket? Why would you want to do anything on such a tiny screen when a bigger one is within reach almost 100% of the time?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Running, for one. Not having to carry a phone is useful. Yes, there are hundreds of fitness trackers. Why not a multi-purpose tracker that also lets me reply to the wife?

      Getting updates without looking like a phone zombie is useful for some scenarios.

      There are reasons.

      • by sexconker ( 1179573 ) on Thursday October 30, 2014 @03:11PM (#48272023)

        Running, for one. Not having to carry a phone is useful. Yes, there are hundreds of fitness trackers. Why not a multi-purpose tracker that also lets me reply to the wife?

        You still have to have the phone on you. The watch talks to the phone.

        • Running, for one. Not having to carry a phone is useful. Yes, there are hundreds of fitness trackers. Why not a multi-purpose tracker that also lets me reply to the wife?

          You still have to have the phone on you. The watch talks to the phone.

          That's right. So I got an arm strap for my phone. Don't need yet another gadget. $20 vs. whatever Apple is gouging the rubes for this time.

        • by jythie ( 914043 ) on Thursday October 30, 2014 @03:28PM (#48272291)
          That sounds like a design flaw in the specific smartwatch as opposed to a problem with the utility of such devices in general.
        • by Krojack ( 575051 )

          For the Gear 2, I don't believe it's talking to the phone all the time when you have fitness trackers running. If it's not connected to the phone then it will cache up the data and transfer it to the phone upon reconnecting. When not connected, you just don't get notifications or calls sent to the watch. I know this is true for the sleep tracker as I have left my phone out of range before. It synced everything when I got within range and reconnected.

      • by _xeno_ ( 155264 )

        Running, for one. Not having to carry a phone is useful. Yes, there are hundreds of fitness trackers. Why not a multi-purpose tracker that also lets me reply to the wife?

        Unfortunately as other people have pointed out, you do need to carry the phone. Which has already killed the Apple Watch for one runner I know. She was really excited about the idea of being able to leave the phone at home while running while still having access to things like a GPS logger and her calendar.

        Then I pointed out that would only work if she only ran in like a 40 foot bubble around her phone. (And that we don't know what happens without the phone and what the range really is.) The discovery that

      • by itzly ( 3699663 )
        You can run without a phone, you know. Many Ethiopians run without phones, and they're winning marathons.
    • Here are 5 reasons off the top of my head.

      1) You are trying to be discrete - at a dinner party, dancing, on a date, etc. etc.

      2) You want something that can track your blood glucose, heart rate, uric acid, etc.

      3) You are a hot woman, your dress doesn't have pockets, and the perfect little purse matches the dress but barely holds your make up.

      4) You are missing the fingers on one hand - you can't hold your phone in one hand and touch the surface with the other, but you can strap it to your bad wrist

      • 1) You are trying to be discrete

        I wouldn't recommend that. Being discrete is extremely painful, and usually leads to fatal blood loss.

      • Smart watches fail on look good and discrete. They look gaudy and are designed to catch others eyes so they know how cool you are.
        • That may be true, but it isn't a requirement of smart watches. As they get better at making them, Rolex, etc. will make watches that look good and are discreet.
        • by sootman ( 158191 )

          Smartwatches are hardly the first gaudy watch. Parent meant you can discreetly glance at your wrist, rather than non-discreetly pulling your phone out of your pocket. And smart or not, a basic black and/or silver watch with a basic black or silver band is pretty discreet.

          And "look good" is in the eye of the beholder.

      • by itzly ( 3699663 )

        4) You are missing the fingers on one hand

        And what if you miss your wrist ?

        • by Krojack ( 575051 )

          4) You are missing the fingers on one hand

          And what if you miss your wrist ?

          What if you're blind?

    • by jythie ( 914043 )
      One could ask the same of any number of small devices which can have their functionality duplicated by a smartphone. One example that has maintained some popularity would be the iPod nano which is great for things like exercise, yard-work, cleaning, carpentry, etc. Sure you can have a smart phone sitting in your pocket (assuming you are dressed in such a way that you HAVE pockets) but something smaller and less intrusive can be nice, esp when one is doing a task where they are not going to be answering ph
    • by Austerity Empowers ( 669817 ) on Thursday October 30, 2014 @03:42PM (#48272471)

      Has there been some change over recent years that has made phones hard to get out of your pocket?

      Skinny jeans.

      • by rsborg ( 111459 )

        Has there been some change over recent years that has made phones hard to get out of your pocket?

        Skinny jeans.

        And the phablet craze. Even Apple succumbed.

  • Better question: (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Scottingham ( 2036128 ) on Thursday October 30, 2014 @03:04PM (#48271909)

    Will millions give a shit about an overpriced nerdlinger status symbol? Stay tuned as Bennett whateverhisface submits his thesis.

  • there were self winding watches.
    • Hell, there still are. The Seiko 5 series, for example, is still very popular. My current daily wear is solar powered and self correcting (Citizen Skyhawk).
  • Do none of the other smart watches require to be charged? How is this a problem restricted to Apple?
  • >> Watch batteries were supposed to bring "winding" to a decisive end

    Someone has never heard of the automatic (aka self-winding) watch. I realize that the concept has only been around since the 18th century, but really, it's pretty well known.

  • by mveloso ( 325617 ) on Thursday October 30, 2014 @03:07PM (#48271955)

    Back in the day, you didn't need to charge your phone every day. Now you do. Big deal?

    • Back in the day, I had to keep my computer plugged into the wall whenever it was on, and any transient electric drop would make it restart. Now, I carry it around in my pocket and charge it once a day. Sounds like an improvement.

    • Back in the day, you didn't need to charge your phone every day. Now you do.

      The LG G2 (the phone I have) was first released about 13 months ago. I charged mine today after over 72 hours on battery, which is typical.

      When my phone doesn't last at least two days, I figure out what app went nuts and sucked down all the battery, because that's the only reason it doesn't last that long. Newer phones (like the LG G3, the Samsung S5, and the HTC One M8) all have better battery-saving algorithms than my phone.

      Battery life for phones is getting better again, after 4-5 years of steep decline

  • Bleh (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anrego ( 830717 ) * on Thursday October 30, 2014 @03:07PM (#48271965)


    This "article" could have just been jammed in the summary, hell Bennett writes larger blog posts in the summary all the time! I can also honestly say I thought to myself "well this is really lame" before noticing it was a shameless dice self post.

    I hate apple and have no interest in a "smart watch", but having to charge the damn thing all the time is a well understood problem, something which is weighed as a con vs whatever pros people find in these things. If I had any interest in the features, I doubt this would be a show stopper. It just becomes a slight addition to the list of things I do before going to bed. If value of that effort exceeds the annoyance of that effort, then it's worth it?

    This article doesn’t do anything besides point out the issue and make a fairly obvious correlation (something the author probably felt was way more clever than it actually was)?

    • Re:Bleh (Score:5, Informative)

      by OzPeter ( 195038 ) on Thursday October 30, 2014 @03:14PM (#48272071)

      This "article" could have just been jammed in the summary

      Nerval = Dicevertisment

      That says it all.

      • Re:Bleh (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anrego ( 830717 ) * on Thursday October 30, 2014 @03:28PM (#48272273)

        Wow, I assumed you meant like he suspiciously makes a lot of dice related posts, but it's not even subtle.

        Identified as "works for slashdot" and entire history seems to be nothing but dice.com posts. It's like this guys job is literally to post dice shit to slashdot all day.

        • by _xeno_ ( 155264 )

          I'm pretty sure that is Nerval's Lobster's job. I really wish Slashdot would at least mention that the link is to a news site run by their parent company. I mean, they always used to when linking to things on SourceForge or ThinkGeek.

          Sure, once you've been around here long enough, you'll learn that Nerval's Lobster == Dice news story and Bennett Haselton == verbal diarrhea, but it would be nice if the editors would at least pretend at being professional.

          • by Anrego ( 830717 ) *

            I mean, they always used to when linking to things on SourceForge or ThinkGeek.

            Indeed, or even if the article was about or related to either. I know it's an old tune, but slashdot is just going down hill...

  • by itzly ( 3699663 ) on Thursday October 30, 2014 @03:08PM (#48271979)
    Wearing a watch in itself is already "is a throwback to ye olden days". I haven't worn a watch in decades, and I see a lot of people without them. When I need to see the time, I can glance at the corner of the computer screen, or check my phone.
  • Crappy Product (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    No one WANTS to charge their freakin' watch every day. But they will. The hordes will buy it because it is Apple. It will be an inconvenient product, but its trendiness and Apple logo will overcome all common sense and logical thought.

    • by kick6 ( 1081615 )
      At least in the sphere of watches, apples crap will be on the low end of price.

      Source: I'm trying to decide between a $500 watch or a $3000 watch because one says "omega" on it, and one doesn't.
    • The hordes will buy it because it is Apple.

      Apple has had plenty of flops over the years. Newton, Lisa, Apple III, Pippin [wikipedia.org], Macintosh TV [wikipedia.org], QuickTake [wikipedia.org], the 20th Anniversary Mac, the ROKR E1 phone, Ping [wikipedia.org], and more besides.

      Apple sells a lot of stuff because they normally make pretty good products but people don't buy shit solely because it has an Apple logo on it.

  • I, for one, am not interested in having to ensure my watch is plugged in nightly. I may not be Apple's target demographic, though.

    • by Krojack ( 575051 )

      It's like the Moto 360. It's wireless charging as long as you just set it in it's cradle. No plugging or snapping on adapters. Only problem, other smart watches can last 3+ days between charges. My Gear 2 can easily go 5 days.

  • by j2.718ff ( 2441884 ) on Thursday October 30, 2014 @03:14PM (#48272051)

    My old Nokia could go a week between charges. Yet I have to recharge my Android phone daily. Yup, it's a horrible regression in battery life. And in exchange, all I got are a ton of features that I use all the time. Oh, and my old rotary phone didn't require charging ever. Heck, it didn't even need to be connected to my household power.

    Smart watches are no different. They have their pros and their cons.

  • I bought my Casio in 2005, it's solar rechargeable. I've worn it daily with the original batter every since I bought it, never a problem and the time is always right. I'm too utilitarian to want something that needs constant attention. Maybe it comes from being a tech, I get tired of fixing problems and see no reason to generate them.

    Great watch. [watchuseek.com]

  • by u19925 ( 613350 ) on Thursday October 30, 2014 @03:15PM (#48272091)

    You don't need to charge your landline phone (except wireless) but you pretty much need to charge your cell phone daily or at least weekly. How many people would like to go back to landline? Apple watch has similar physical dimensions as regular watch and they both show times. Similarities end there. The apple watch can do many more things that regular watch cannot and it needs battery for those functions. If you are happy with what your watch does, ignore apple watch (I am going to do that), but many folks may like to have one.

  • See the subject line.

  • by Coward Anonymous ( 110649 ) on Thursday October 30, 2014 @03:30PM (#48272307)

    Mechanical watches were so ridiculously convenient and useful that people would gladly wind their watches once a day. Similarly, if the Apple Watch proves convenient and useful, people will gladly charge it once a day.

    Of course, the most myopic aspect of these articles is the unwritten presumption that today's state of the art will never improve. Yes, Apple Watch will need to be charged once a day for the next couple of years, but charge times are going to improve tremendously as Moore's Law continues to plug along. The Apple Watch will improve in a way analogous to the way mechanical and later quartz watches improved far beyond the limitations of the original pocket watches and wristwatches.

    • nonsense, get with the times. Better mechanical watches were self-winding with user's normal daily wrist movement

  • > Will millions of people really want to charge and fuss with their watch at least once a day?

    I can't speak for everyone else, but I vote a decisive no. I already have a stupid company-issued phone with a non-swappable battery that I have to charge every night, and occasionally during the day if I use it a lot. I tell ya, I long for the days when a pager would run for weeks on a single AA battery. The thought of having a second device that needs that level of care and feeding is frankly revolting.

  • ... I am still waiting for a smartwatch that doesn't require a mobile phone like my old school Casio Data Bank 150 calculator watch. Its battery replacement is every few years too!

  • I honestly think the only way these things will take off is with the whole charging pad system that has kept popping up in the news lately. Most people take off their watch when they go to bed, but plugging it in along with other devices is inconvenient and obnoxious, esp if you're fumbling around late at night. A pad to put it on would make it feel less inconvenient.

  • I haven't worn a watch for a few years, and nothing out there makes me want to.

    Battery life alone is a detractor. I could consider a more than one day life watch, and a cradle to charge it, with an option on the fly, but we go on to reason two:

    Nothing in smartwatches is showing me a killer feature. Even fitness is half a loaf, since Google Fit is worth a try and the price is right...

    A phone on my wrist is not very attractive to me. That small a screen for text previews, not so much. An alarm clock? Got

  • If I were to wear a watch, I'd like to be able to comfortably wear it while sleeping. I'd like it to record my vitals. I hear variation in sleep vitals is a pretty good way to detect illness early on.

    Maybe it could vibrate at me when I snore, before it wakes my bed partner. Or vibrate to wake me in the morning, since I can apparently sleep though any noise. Hey maybe my bed could be one big charging mat!

    But I don't like to wear a watch, so never mind.

  • by Old97 ( 1341297 ) on Thursday October 30, 2014 @03:53PM (#48272609)
    As a train, the airplane is pitiful. It can't haul as much freight or as many passengers. It costs more. It needs to land and be refueled more frequently. And who needs an airplane anyway? Trains are safer as you are less likely to die in an accident. Trains may not be as fast, but what's the hurry? I like sitting in the car and seeing the country go by at ground level. You can't see a damn thing from an airplane and what you do see looks like little toys. Yep, only an idiot would build or buy an airplane because I like trains.
  • by shadowrat ( 1069614 ) on Thursday October 30, 2014 @04:01PM (#48272699)
    Honestly, nobody wears watches. Most of society has given them up in favor of our pocket screens. Those already need daily recharging. It's not like the apple watch is even competing with a standard wristwatch. Obviously watches have far better power consumption than our phones, but we all eschewed watches for phones a decade ago.

    Compare the watch's running time to a pebble or other competing device, not something that isn't even the same. I see plenty of articles that bash the new iphone for poor battery life, but none of those articles bitches that landline phones never needed charging and we've taken this huge step back. They justifiably compare it to some android phone that lasts 2x as long (but nowhere near as long as a landline phone)

    There is a litany of other flaws that can be pointed out if you really want to take the watch down.

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