Swellboy on… the Apple Watch

Our man is amazed by being issued fitness instructions and awarded medals for expending calories

Image: Brijesh Patel

I was in Milan for a dinner given by Apple at the end of the Salone del Mobile to herald the arrival of the Apple Watch. I had not intended to go as I was trying (and inevitably failing) to finish my book on Bernard Buffet. I am becoming convinced that some part of me is simply unable to countenance completion of the book and, should it make it into print, I will probably be out in the bookshops with a pencil amending finished copies.

Anyway, to stop myself going slightly mad and to see Messrs Newson and Ive again (I last saw them in Cupertino when I was interviewing the latter for the paper-and-ink version of these pages), I boarded a flight to Milan and turned up slightly late and breathless at a rather interesting club in the city that seemed to be some sort of Italian version of the clubs of our own St James’s.

All in all, it was an amusing choice of venue for a highly advanced product. I have subsequently been trying the Apple Watch for a few days and it has been an interesting experience. It does tap you on the wrist and ring like a regular telephone, and if my eyes are not too tired I can read the news headlines and study my upcoming flights on the BA app, but it is the fitness aspect of things that really arrests me. It is the first time that I have worn a watch that issues me with instructions. There have been occasions when it has tapped me on the wrist and, upon consulting it, I have been told that I need to stand up – which is apparently healthy. The last time I used to have to stand up like that was at school, where, if I happened to be seated and a master walked into the room, as a mark of respect to my elders I would rise to my feet. (I have now reached the age where certain well-brought-up young people get up when I enter a room.)


The watch counts calories too, so when, as happened the day after the dinner, I walked from the Brera to the Duomo, I managed to expend a number of calories that exceeded my daily target (not that I knew I had one) and I was issued with a very handsome award, a sort of medal of concentric silver rings. Of course, I do not mean to say that the watch has the capacity to wirelessly generate sporting trophies from nearby 3D printers among its functions (although I am sure that the boffins at Cupertino are working on this), but rather that it came spinning out of the blackness of the screen like the titles of some Hollywood blockbuster, albeit reduced to wrist size.

I do not often win things, so it is nice to receive a pat on the back (or tap on the wrist). Of course, I have not won anything since, as I have a) not walked very far, although I have tried to get an accurate calorie count for the journey from my desk to the front door, and b) I am unable to spend too long without a piece of old-fashioned clockwork on my wrist, as without a mechanical watch I feel rather like a clergyman without a dog collar or a diver without flippers.

So I am wondering if at some stage Apple can get round to issuing awards for getting out of bed and starting the day, which in itself can be a Herculean, not to mention Sisyphean, exertion.


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