I was looking forward to my 15th wedding anniversary. My husband and I generally don’t celebrate them, but 15 seemed like a number that should be acknowledged. When the day came he presented me with a small box and we all know what that means — expensive jewellery! Hurrah!
I ripped off the paper and was a bit taken aback to find a rather ugly-looking watch inside. I don’t know what I had been thinking. Of course it wasn’t going to be jewellery. My husband is not hugely imaginative when it comes to gift-giving. If there is a present to be bought, his first port of call — indeed, his only port of call, given how late he usually leaves it — is the Apple Store. I have to admit, I’ve done pretty well out of his panic Apple purchasing in the past. I’ve got a very nice MacBook Air and last year he bought me an iPhone 6S which I’m totally addicted to.
So, although I was initially a bit disappointed, I was soon seduced by the attractive Apple packaging and keen to discover what this tiny little computer could do. I’ve had the watch for three months now and, to my surprise, I’ve enjoyed it every day. Like all Apple products, it is incredibly user-friendly. Naturally, I didn’t bother to read the instructions. As with my iPhone, I just kept tapping and swiping until I figured it out.
I’m a bit of an exercise addict, so the best feature for me is the activity tracker. When you summon it up, three circles appear on the tiny screen and the aim is to circumnavigate each circle every day, thereby completing a healthy amount of activity. The red ‘active calorie’ circle measures how much movement you do, the green ‘exercise’ one measures arm and leg movement and to complete the blue ‘stand’ circle you must stand up, rather than sit down, for at least one minute per hour for 12 hours.
It may sound silly, but completing all three rings by the end of the day does give me a small moment of pleasure. I also feel absurdly happy when the watch rewards me with an ‘achievement badge’. These are given for things like doubling the amount of movement you do from one day to the next, or completing all three circles every day for a week. I genuinely think that I have been more active as a result. If I don’t manage to complete the circles each day I feel like a bit of a failure. Admittedly, the watch can be irritatingly bossy. If I am watching a movie or on a long car journey, and haven’t stood up for more than 60 minutes, a little alarm will go off. It also tells me to breathe from time to time, as though I might forget without the reminder. You can turn these notices off if you don’t like them. Strangely, I quite like being irritated by them. Maybe it’s because it makes me feel like I have a proper relationship with my watch.
Many of the Apple Watch’s features are identical to those of the iPhone, such as being able to send and receive text messages, but because it is small and on your wrist it is fantastically discreet. On silent mode it will alert you to an incoming text with a little vibrating pulse known as a ‘haptic tap’. The rather long Harvest Festival service at my children’s primary school went a lot quicker this year as I sneakily read my incoming text messages, as well as BBC News updates about Donald Trump’s latest outrages. Those are things I couldn’t do unnoticed on my phone.
It also makes reading text messages at traffic lights a lot easier — and less risky in terms of fines and points. Not something Apple had in mind when designing the watch, I’m sure. The other feature I use on a daily basis is Apple Pay. It is so convenient. You don’t have to fish around trying to find your phone or your wallet — you just hold your watch next to the terminal. This often draws gasps of admiration – ‘Wow, that’s amazing!’ — which makes me look good in front of the children and generally feel a bit smug.
So it turns out that after 15 years of marriage, my husband knows me better than I know myself. I might think that what I want is some fancy pair of earrings, but actually what brings me daily pleasure in a way that jewellery never could is a watch that encourages me to be active, helps me skive off during meetings and school assemblies and, as a bonus, makes me look a little bit cool in front of the kids.
Oh, and one other thing. If you can’t remember where you put your phone, you press a button on the watch and your phone emits a loud beeping noise. I use that function roughly once an hour. I couldn’t have asked for a better present.