WATCHe app makes Apple Watch look oldfangled


WATCHe app
WATCHe lets you turn your Apple Watch into a mechanical timepiece. Kind of.
Photo: Evan Killham/Cult of Mac

A new app for your fancy Apple Watch delivers a super-cool and stylish education on the inner workings of actual watches.

The free app, called WATCHe, shows you the time. Obviously, your Apple Watch can already do that on its own, but the app ups the class by simulating the gears, cogs, springs and movements of an analog watch. And it might actually teach you something.

The video below shows you what you get with WATCHe: a screen that looks like the guts of one of those old-fashioned devices that people still make by hand. But it also includes a menu with 26 different components of the display that you can turn on or off. Every jewel, spring and plate that would make this watch go if it were physical is in there. And that’s where we really start to like this thing.

The average watch owner, whether they’re rocking a smart or “dumb” timepiece, probably doesn’t give much thought about how the pieces work. But WATCHe lets you pore through the different parts and layers if you like, kind of like one of those interactive models of the human body that lets you check out skin, muscle and bone independently.

Nomad Systems, which created the app, based its design on a line of physical timepieces that exist as both wrist-worn versions and ones built into phone cases. So if you don’t have the cash to blow on one of these cool gadgets (they cost between $2,400 and $5,100), you can convert your Apple Watch into the next best thing.

Having said that, we aren’t sure if WATCHe, as an app, can really replace the regular faces on your Apple Watch, since you’d have to constantly switch back to it if you went into another app. If you don’t get many notifications, however, you can break out the Watch app on your iPhone, then go to Settings > General > Wake Screen and set it to “Resume Last Activity” under the “On Wrist Raise” menu. That way, it will default to the app as long as you weren’t running anything else the last time you used your watch.

Of course, the best solution would be if Apple actually allowed third-party developers to make custom Apple Watch faces so we could just set ours to this one, but Cupertino has made its feelings pretty clear on that point.