We didn’t get the Apple Watch Pro at this week’s iPhone 14 event. Instead, we received something which is built for an audience I have never and will never be a part of.
If you’re an extreme athlete, professional scuba diver, or someone who wouldn’t think twice about hiking in some of the most hostile environments, there is now an Apple Watch designed specifically for you.
It’s called the Apple Watch Ultra, it costs a not inconsiderable £849 in the UK ($799 in the US) and it looks bigger than anything I have ever strapped to my arm.
Obviously, I’ve pre-ordered one (complete with the Orange Alpine Loop, in case you’re interested), and I think I have some explaining to do.
Why I don’t need the Apple Watch Ultra
The most adventurous I get each year is when I head to the Lake District for a long weekend of walking and drinking. Indeed, we call it ‘the long walk to the pub’, because it essentially involves an arduous hike up one or two of Cumbria’s beautiful mountains, followed by a proper session at a local ale house. And lots of crisps.
I didn’t see this scenario depicted during Apple’s unveiling of the Apple Watch Ultra. Instead, we were treated to movie-like scenes of epic expeditions across arid deserts and treacherous, icy peaks, undertaken by people who have probably never walked past a McDonald’s, let alone tucked into a Big Mac. They’re too busy being epic all of the time.
There were über-fit extreme runners battling against the wind, having, presumably, been on their feet for days, and divers reaching the depths of new wondrous, undiscovered worlds that few of us ever see in our lifetime.
There wasn’t a whiff of Deep Heat, no footage of Dave at the back shouting “slow down guys, I fancy a cuppa”, and I didn’t spot one packet of crisps or pint of Loweswater Gold.
I run quite a bit, but as I’ve previously noted, this extends as far as the treadmill or, at ’worst’, a 5K route around the block – a journey which sees me pass far more houses and tree-lined roads than it does barren landscapes. I’d have to do a lot to get myself into trouble.
I don’t need the Apple Watch Ultra at all. In fact, it’s probably my silliest Apple purchase so far (and there have been a few).
Why I just WANT the Apple Watch Ultra
The Apple Watch Ultra has a new custom button. That’s marginally interesting, and I look forward to seeing what task I end up assigning it, but I’m far more impressed by its colour.
This chunky new button is cast in high contrast International Orange. I have no idea what that is, and I’m pretty sure everyone I know would be similarly perplexed. But I don’t care; it’s called ‘International Orange’ which suggests that it’s very important and known only to people like Bear Grylls.
The watch itself is made from aerospace-grade titanium. That sounds really cool, too, but it’s also practical. That choice of metal aids corrosion resistance – something I’ll never have to deal with, watch-wise, ever. But at least I know it can fend it off. Just in case.
It also has L5 GPS, which sounds much better than L1 GPS. Heading to a running track? Well, the Apple Watch Ultra will kick itself into an elite running mode (or something) when you get there. It’ll even automatically enter scuba diving mode when you reach a certain depth.
Perhaps more important (I assume) is the fact that the Apple Watch Ultra is tested to MIL-STD 810H3. Again, I have no idea what that is, but so many numbers and letters grouped together signify something very important indeed. It’s comforting and nice to know that if I ever get myself into a situation where MIL-STD 810H3 could be a problem, I’ll be absolutely fine.
Oh, and it’s got a really cool night mode where the watch face goes all Knight Rider red. You know, for when you’re stumbling into bed at night after a few beers and don’t want to wake your better half.
I’ve long held the desire to own a Land Rover Defender. I have no need for one, but as I continually tell my girlfriend, beyond the fact that Defenders are painfully cool, owning one would also mean that you can rest safe in the knowledge that you’ll always be ok, no matter what happens. The Apple Watch Ultra is the Defender of smartwatches.
I just want one, ok?
Damn you, Tim.
My expectations (and concerns)
My main concern about the Apple Watch Ultra is its size. In virtually every press shot and promotional video, it looks biblically huge on the wrist.
I don’t have big wrists; the Galaxy Watch5 Pro is pushing it in terms of size, and I think the Apple Watch Ultra is slightly bigger. We shall see if that proves to be an issue.
I also wonder how it’ll look on my wrist when I’m undertaking non-Ultra stuff (which is, you know, all of the time). How long before the existence of the Apple Watch Ultra seeps into the national conscience and I find myself being asked questions like “so how was Everest for you, mate?”. Do I lie? Run? Cry and say I just like the look of the red night mode face thing?
I genuinely have no idea what to expect from the Apple Watch Ultra, but that’s what I wanted from Apple this year. Something interesting; something silly; something aspirational and entirely left field.
I shall report back as soon as it’s on my wrist.
I think you should do a survey of “how many Apple items did you buy just because you wanted one”. I’ll go first…My 16″ M1 MBP. I would have been fine with a M1 Mac book air, but I just wanted the MBP. Not to mention the 24″ iMac I bought 12 years ago, or the white polycarbonate Mac book. I could go on.
AirPods Max. Guilty as charged!
Don’t feel bad Mark. I ordered one as well, same band, for one simple reason. It looks damn cool. I doubt I’ll use half of these astronaut features, but the fact that I can makes this feel like a good purchase. My series 7 has had a good run (😆), it’s time for the Ultra to help me accomplish very un-ultra things. At least it’ll look cool!
Thanks Mark, this piece made me giggle – ‘international orange’, M10-91Xwateveritis etc – but the missing piece of the puzzle here seems to be battery life… in the kind of intended scenarios Apple imagine, surely that would want a significant boost?
do you think listening „offline“ music is possible?
While running I won’t take my mobile phone.
Thanks in advance!
Thanks Mark – I have to say I want it for all the same “logical” reasons. It IS the LR Defender of watches, and my wife won’t permit me to buy a Defender. I actually do run, ride, swim, and lift somewhat heavy objects in hopes of extending the years I have left. At my stage of life, I either splurge on this or my kids end up with an extra $799. So count me in.