If you buy an Apple Watch, prepare to be judged. Not because you’re an Apple fan, or that you’re embracing wearable tech, but because your choice of model will tell everyone around you how much you earn, or are prepared to spend on a smartwatch. A new social hierarchy based purely on snobbery is coming, and the Apple Watch is going to be its gauge.
Right now, the best casual indicator about a person’s salary is their house, its location, and the car they drive. Watches don’t usually count, because for the most part, regular people can’t tell them apart. It’s unlikely you’d instantly know, just with a quick glance, if someone sitting next to you in a restaurant is wearing a $1,000 Longines watch or a $10,000 Blancpain — but the difference in initial spend is so dramatic, it could be that one person just sold their company to Google, while the other got a nice gift after graduation.
Because the Apple Watch will be more visible than a house or car, you better get familiar with how the model you choose will make you look, so you can find your place in this brave new world. That is, if you still want one at all after understanding your options.
Look poor, douchey, or stupid: You decide!
The Apple Watch range starts out at $350, or $400 if you want a slightly larger model. It’s affordable, for most people, so if you want to be labeled as a pauper, go ahead and buy the Apple Watch Sport with a silicone band. But in the grand scheme of Apple watches, you may as well dress solely in sweatpants and a ratty t-shirt.
Aside from being made of 18-karat gold, the fanciest Apple Watch is exactly the same as the $350 Sport.
At the opposite end of the scale is the elegant 18-karat gold $10,000+ Watch Edition, as opposed to the workman-like silver of the Sport. Anyone who is (or dreams of being) someone will buy it, and Apple has made its most upmarket model standout in a disgustingly lavish way. Observers will only need a vague understanding of the Watch range to know you’ve got so much disposable income that you could buy their feeble existence twice over and still have enough money in the bank for a private island or two.
You know what’s funny? Aside from being made of 18-karat gold, the Watch Edition does exactly the same things as the one which costs $350. It even connects to the exact same phone, which unless it’s a custom job, doesn’t cost much more than $1,000.
As Kevin Rose said earlier this week, Watch Edition wearers should be avoided at absolutely all costs. If you’re consumed with looking ridiculously wealthy, it’s almost certain you’re monumentally self-obsessed. The Apple Watch (gold) Edition is without a doubt, the stupidest, most egotistical tech buying decision someone can make this year.
Is the standard Apple Watch for normal people?
To recap. You can’t buy the Watch Sport, because it makes you look poor. You can’t buy the Watch Edition because it’ll make you look like you flog servants on the weekend, and hunt endangered animals in your free time. That leaves the Apple Watch, which starts at $550 without a Sport or Edition badge attached. Is this the one which will single you out as a balanced, socially grounded individual?
Almost, but there are pitfalls. The silicon strap is a problem. No-one is going to care that the body is made of different materials, because it’ll look like a Watch Sport from a distance, meaning the genius wearing it cleverly spent more money to end up looking cheap.
This leaves a selection of leather and metal bands. It’s here where a degree of personal preference may have seeped into the buying decision. If you still need some guidance, then remember the $150 Milanese Loop is too fussy, the $150 Leather Loop too weird, and the $250 Modern Buckle too dull. After all that, we’re left with the Apple Watch with a $450 Link Bracelet in either silver of space grey. This model costs between $950 and $1,100 total. You will have spent all that money on a smartphone companion device, and that raises the question of whether you should be allowed out on your own.
The (un)welcome return of Apple product snobbery
Perhaps the most depressing thing about all this, is it’s not an accident. It’s a calculated strategy. Apple is hoping to leave the mainstream world it entered with the iPhone.
The Apple Watch (gold) Edition is without a doubt, the stupidest, most egotistical tech buying decision someone can make this year.
The Apple Watch is finally a legitimate excuse for your friend to call you a snob again. It’s exactly what Apple has long been criticized for: high quality hardware for elitists who want to make sure everyone around them knows how much they’ve shelled out. Apple absolutely knows this, and the Watch is here to artificially kickstart what it lost with the now almost commonplace MacBook and iPhone.
MacBook and iPhone owners no longer care if they’re labeled cheap or obscenely rich, because for many, just owning an Apple product is enough to feel superior. At least it was, until everyone bought an iPhone (40+ percent of U.S. smartphone owners have one). For some reason, Apple wants to regain snob status, and it’s using its first Watch to do it. Owning a smartphone is pretty much a given today, but for those who miss the old days, now there’s a chance to pay a lot of money for an almost superfluous piece of tech to go with it.
What a shame. The Apple Watch looks cool. Perhaps it’s best to wait for a year or two before buying one, by which time it’ll be as ubiquitous as the iPhone, and this hideous artificial hierarchy will have crumbled. At least, we hope it does. Great tech should be for everyone, not just rich snobs.
The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not reflect the beliefs of Digital Trends.