Apple’s ‘masculine’ smartwatch divides fashion world

2014-09-10 09:40

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Cupertino, California – Apple’s newly unveiled smartwatch has split fashion critics, who may prove pivotal to its broad acceptance.

Many praised the Apple Watch, priced from $349 (about R3 800) 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.

Others said the design, while pleasing, was less than revolutionary.

The gadget, which must be paired with an iPhone, is shaped like a traditional timepiece, with a small square display. A dial on the side, reminiscent of the winding mechanism on a mechanical watch, can be spun or pushed to manipulate what is on the touch screen.

Apple will offer three different versions – sport, standard and a luxury edition. Finishes include stainless-steel and gold-plated options. The display can be customised to show the time in numbers or a facsimile of a watch with hands.

Wrist bands range from leather and stainless steel to sports models in hues from pink to blue. The watch recognises voice commands and carries sensors that can track activity such as steps and heart rate.

Roseanne Morrison, fashion director for The Doneger Group, an industry consultant, said the design fell short of her expectations.

“It’s not pretty,” she told Reuters. “It’s very future techno as opposed to feminine sexy.”

Many contacted by Reuters agreed that the device was better looking than existing offerings from the likes of Samsung Electronics and LG, which are judged to be clunkier.

But rival tech giants such as Google and Intel are increasingly competing with Apple in the emerging market for wearable devices.

Based on tablet and PC adoption rates, Citigroup expects the smartwatch market to reach about $10 billion by 2018 versus an estimated $1.4 billion to $1.8 billion in 2014.

Eric Wilson, fashion news director for InStyle Magazine, said Apple also faces competition from luxury watchmakers such as Rolex. Swatch has said it’s exploring a watch with intelligent digital features.

“The Apple Watch will be a status symbol to carry,” he said. But the design is “generic in the sense of its flexibility and individualisation”. With the exception of the bright colours and gold trim, he added, it is “a very masculine watch”.

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