Fashion world gawks at Apple Watch, but questions feminine appeal

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Apple employees have been spotted wearing Apple Watch in the wild
Apple employees have been spotted wearing Apple Watch in the wild

Apple clearly wants its new watch to be more than just a cool gadget. It’s no coincidence that Tuesday’s event falls in line with New York Fashion Week, a time of the year when the world’s top designers look for new tech to accessorize their outfits.

Journalists and prominent figures in the fashion industry were invited alongside the usual tech press to the Apple Watch’s unveiling. The fashion world’s initial reactions are mostly positive, but some question the device’s appeal to women.

After interviewing people in the fashion industry, Reuters said, “Many praised the ‘Apple Watch’, priced from $349 when it debuts next year, for its clean aesthetic, but some bloggers and editors said the watch had a masculine aura, which would limit its allure to parts of the style-conscious crowd.”

“It’s not pretty,” one female fashion director told the publication. “It’s very future techno as opposed to feminine sexy.”

“The Apple Watch will be a status symbol to carry”

“The Apple Watch will be a status symbol to carry,” said Eric Wilson, fashion news director for InStyle Magazine. But he also said that its design is “generic in the sense of its flexibility and individualization” and that it’s “a very masculine watch.”

The comments about a lack of femininity are interesting given that Apple’s Industrial Design group led by Jony Ive consists of several women.

It’s clear to fashionistas that Apple’s design respects the heritage of watch making, regardless of whether both genders will find its look appealing.

“Strangely enough, the visual appeal is almost retrofitted to the traditional language of the analog Swiss-made timepiece,” said Vogue Contributing Editor Sarah Mower. “It’s a watch that looks like a watch.”

“Apple got more details right on their watch than the vast majority of Swiss and Asian brands”

Traditional watch aficionados have plenty of good things to say about the Apple Watch too. “Apple got more details right on their watch than the vast majority of Swiss and Asian brands do with similarly priced watches, and those details add up to a really impressive piece of design,” said Benjamin Clymer in HODINKEE, one of the most widely read wristwatch publications in the world. “It offers so much more functionality than other digitals it’s almost embarrassing.”

One way Apple is trying to offer more choice when picking a watch is by selling two screen sizes at 38mm and 42mm. “I tried them both on, and they both worked perfectly on my wrist,” wrote Clymer in a hands-on post. “They didn’t exaggerate the options and make one decidedly male oriented at 44 mm and a girly equivalent at 35 mm or the like. Any man, woman, or child could pull off either size with ease.”

Trust me, you'll want one.  Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac
Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac
Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

Clymer when on to say how the Apple Watch “pays great homage to traditional watchmaking and the environment in which horology was developed.”

Those who aren’t watch aficionados may have been puzzled by Apple taking so long to demo astronomy features, such as seeing when there’s a full moon, in its watch Tuesday. But according to Clymer, the focus on the world above our heads is Apple’s way of nodding to the history of timepieces. “The fact that Apple chose to develop two faces dedicated to the cosmos shows they are, at the very least, aware of the origins and importance of the earliest timekeeping machines, and the governing body of all time and space – the universe.”

But what do the Swiss watchmakers Jony Ive said were “fucked” think about the Apple Watch? The president of Patek Philippe told The Financial Times that, “It is not part of our world,” whatever that means. “Ultimately you are talking about a $349 watch that will have to be constantly upgraded as the technology gets outdated. This timepiece has a shelf-life, unlike a Swiss mechanical watch, where people are investing in craftsmanship and heirlooms that can be passed down to future generations.”