Today, Apple released its first new product line in five years: the Apple watch.
It’s not the first smartwatch on the wearable technology market, but some analysts say it could be the one that changes the game. Reporter Pola Lem joined customers trying it on for the first time.
AMBI: Fade up.
Under Grand Central’s domed ceiling, a small crowd races up the stairs like marathoners after the first gun. They’re Apple customers, and they’re hungry for the company’s latest release: Apple’s high-tech watch.
BRIEFER: I want this more than you do.
Scott Briefer’s raring to go. He’s an analyst and app developer for IBM.
BRIEFER: I’ve been a fanboy and supporter for many years. And I actually have one of the original Macs from 1984, I think, or ‘83.
But the race isn’t on just yet. The only people taking it out of the store today had to pre-order it early this morning. And that means today’s crowd is a bit smaller than at other Apple releases.
BRIEFER: Usually when Apple is showing a product for the first time–the lines–that corridor over there, where it says Track 23, is filled with lines of people, back and forth, back and forth. And it can be hours before you’d actually get upstairs.
Today, only a couple dozen people were waiting for the store to open.
BRIEFER: What does that say? It could be the whole idea that wearables is not really as exciting to the demographic as us analysts predict.
We’re in sight of Grand Central’s iconic gold clock, but at the Apple Store, more customers keep coming in to try out a whole other kind of timepiece. One by one, they check in with a salesperson.
‘94 11:40 DROUIN: Drouin’s the name. D-R-O-U-I-N…
Zach Drouin’s a self-described tech nerd. He’s taking Apple’s watch for a spin.
2:35 SALESLADY: Which hand do you prefer?
DROUIN: On my left.
SALESLADY: On your left. Perfect.
SALESLADY: Do you prefer the uh….
The saleswoman pulls out a drawer full of watches. They’ve got square faces and a sleek, modern look. It comes in two sizes. The watch already sold out online. But Drouin’s ahead of the game.
DROUIN: I already preordered a 42 millimeter this morning.
That’s the larger of two options. Drouin’s main reason for getting it? It’s an easy way to stay on top of all those text messages.
DROUIN: I’m someone who’s constantly checking my phone. I pull it out of my pocket.
After Apple’s iphone came out, more people looked to their phone for the time, and watch sales took a hit. But now, the watch is becoming the new phone. At least, that’s what Apple’s hoping.
Ryan Shaughnessy isn’t getting one. He’s just here because his friend is buying one.
SHAUGHNESSY: I don’t need constant reminders of emails and texts popping up on my wrist.
Plus, he’s already got a watch, the regular kind. And he’s not the only traditionalist around.
[Fade out: Grand Central ambi. Fade in: Tissot ambi.]
The stores selling the world’s most exclusive timepieces are clustered around Grand Central station. All the big players are here: Rolex, Tag Heuer, Torneau. A few blocks up from the Apple store, there’s the Tissot flagship.
HAMOY: We sell mid-price watches, very high quality Swiss movements.
Emmanuel Hamoy doesn’t just sell watches. He’s something of an afficionado.
HAMOY: Today I’m wearing a T-tempo classic watch. It has sapphire crystals, stainless steel bracelet with a black face.
At the moment, he’s not too worried about the competition.
HAMOY: [Laughs.] I don’t really go for the technological hype.
Hype or not, it’s a big moment for the watch industry. Apple’s new watch will be sold in stores on April 24th. More people buying it could mean luxury watches go back into fashion. Or, this could be their final hour. And only time…will tell.
Pola Lem, Columbia Radio News.