Dear Apple, is wearing a watch really natural?

Apple's Tim Cook suggested this week that wearing something on one's wrist is natural. But why, then, has Apple spent the last few years making it unnatural?

Well, one of them is wearing a watch. James Martin/CNET

Most of us spend our lives sliding on a scale between impossible and gullible.

We're sometimes persuaded so easily, yet, at others, even the most accepted pieces of information can't penetrate our obstinacy.

No, I'm not thinking about global warming, Sharon Stone, or the New York Yankees. I'm musing on this supposed iWatch that Apple may or may not ever create, produce, market or give away as a free gift at Christmas with the purchase of two pink iPhones.

In his epically stoic performance at D11 , Apple CEO Tim Cook offered that while Google Glass was "risky" (translation: You look as if the asylum wouldn't take you), wearing something on one's wrist is "natural."

Well, it might be natural for some girls who like to alert you they're on the way to your restaurant table by wearing 16 noisy bangles.

It might also be natural for men who work in money to wear a bulbous lump of Swiss gold on their wrists in order to inform those several hundred yards away that they work in money.

It might even have been natural for those who once believed that Lance Armstrong was the second coming of a Texas Jesus to wear those sweet little yellow bands that told them to Live Wrong. (I think that's what the words on them said.)

But Apple has spent the last few years freeing our wrists from burden.

Slow though we are, once we realized that we didn't need to turn our wrists to tell the time, we discovered that we didn't need watches at all. We had cell phones.

Suddenly, no sweaty wrists, no watches left behind at Mrs. Kasiwag's Late Night Emporium, no pinching sensation when the buckle gets caught in your wrist-hairs. No scratching your lover during impromptu romantic enthusiasm.

Now, when we want to know the time we look at our phones -- which is something we do 376 times a day anyway.

You may be one of those who is slowly returning to wrist-wearing with, say, a Jawbone Up , in order to track every single moment of your waking and sleeping hours.

However, try using a laptop while wearing one and you may discover an annoying banging against your keyboard.

If it is "natural" to put anything at all on your wrists, the purpose is surely beautification rather than edification.

It's certainly true that one of Apple's great strengths lies in beautification. The company can take a thing that's supposed to be useful and make it really rather attractive too. It's the gadget equivalent of the perfect life-partner.

So if this purported iWatch is to somehow appear and appeal to one's wrist, it will have to be even prettier than an iPhone.

It will have to have a novel purpose and an engaging look. What might that novel purpose be?

It won't be enough that it will be some mini phone-substitute, there to scroll the sports scores with a delicate finger, so that you don't have to reach for your phone (Which is never difficult, because you always put it on the bar or restaurant table, don't you?).

Are you going to want to turn your wrist to, say, take a picture?

Are you really going to want to talk into your watch? Won't you look even more potty than a Google Glass-wearer, who, at least, might look as if he's merely talking to himself. (Most of us do that on occasion, don't we?)

Sometimes it seems as if wearable tech is the next big thing because those who make gadgets want everyone to believe it's the next big thing. Perhaps it's the Emperor's New Big Thing.

Unless it looks (very) different and does something (quite) different, will there truly be hordes ready to prettify their wrists?

Of course, thinking different has always been Apple's natural claim. But it's one thing having something up your sleeve and another to want to show off what's beneath it.

Wearable tech has to involve a certain amount of showing off. That's the nature of fashion. We wear things -- as often as not -- so that others can be impressed.

If, as Cook suggested at D11, Apple is preparing "game-changers," will a watch be one of them? Or might this be a natural area for one of Apple's little "surprises."

 

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