We’ve long been expecting a new ruggedized version of Apple’s smartwatch, and Mark Gurman’s “Power On” newsletter yesterday suggested that this would be branded as the Apple Watch Pro. I can easily believe that.
However, he went on to suggest that the new Pro model would replace the Apple Watch Edition – and that makes no sense at all to me …
The Apple Watch Pro
I totally get the idea of a ruggedized Apple Watch, with longer battery life. Right now, an Apple Watch isn’t a good choice for anyone who wants a smartwatch for multiday hiking or climbing trips, both because it is relatively easily damaged when subjected to a rough environment, and because it doesn’t offer the kind of battery-life needed for extended GPS use over even a weekend.
You can address the “rugged” part of the equation with an Apple Watch Case, but that still doesn’t solve the battery-life issue – and even some long-distance runners struggle with that when using GPS throughout.
The outdoor adventure and sporting market is one Garmin understands well, so it’s no surprise that it currently pretty much owns this segment – from the entry-level Garmin Instinct up to the Garmin Fenix 7X, with its 37 days of battery-life and military-spec ruggedization.
The market for sports/activity-oriented smartwatches is a sizable one, and to me, it makes sense for Apple to take a slice of this pie. Indeed, the more health and activity features Apple adds to the Watch, the more sense it makes for the company to create a model for the sportier types among us.
What Gurman has suggested all seems perfectly reasonable.
The pro features will be a larger and more shatter-resistant display, enhanced hiking and swim tracking, longer battery life and a heftier and rugged case made from a premium, non-aluminum metal material (probably titanium given it’s much more durable than steel).
What doesn’t make sense to me is the idea that a rugged Pro watch replaces the Edition.
Apple Watch Edition
Okay, we’ll have to pretend the Series 0 never happened… Paying anything up to $27K for a watch with an expected life of just a few years before it would be outdated made little sense in the first place. But while solid gold may have been premium in terms of pricing, almost nobody considered it stylish. “Bling” was the term that came to mind.
But that aberration aside, Apple then adopted a beautiful white ceramic for the Series 2 Edition model, and revived it for the Series 5.
This watch is, to me, the very epitome of style, especially when paired with a matching white band. I wasn’t initially sold on it when I saw photos, and I wasn’t willing to pay ceramic money for a watch I expected to replace every couple of years, but I did finally talk myself into it.
Five months later, I love it as much as I did on the day it arrived, and I still consider it one of the most beautiful Apple products.
(Today, of course, the Edition models are titanium – but that’s a whole other discussion.)
They are totally different markets
To me, a rugged watch and a stylish watch are two totally different things. Unless you’re the sort of person who wears a diving watch to the office, they are in no way interchangeable.
If I’m going climbing, I want a watch that is reliable, can survive knocks, and offers true all-day battery life when using GPS. So long as it isn’t positively ugly, I don’t much care what it looks like.
If I’m going out to dinner, I want a watch that looks good while offering the key features I need in everyday life. I don’t care if the battery needs charging every night, and I don’t need it to be capable of scraping against rocks.
So yes, I absolutely think Apple should offer a rugged watch, and if it wants to call that the Apple Watch Pro, that’s fine by me. But no, I don’t think it should replace the Apple Watch Edition. There’s a market for both, and they have very different roles.
That’s my view – what about yours? Please take our poll, and share your thoughts in the comments.
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