But that’s OK! It was a totally new piece of hardware, and it took time before owners figured out what it was best for. And by the time Apple launched the Watch Series 2 in September 2016, it was clear: This was a device for health and fitness first and foremost. Secondly, it was positioned as a device for quick communication and keeping up with your notifications without having to get your phone. That focus helped Apple build a more compelling story around the Watch, and it started to take off in a way the first one didn’t.
Apple also spent a lot of time targeting the first Apple Watch on the luxury market, even more so than it does with its other products. Indeed, there’s no mistaking a 18-karat gold, $10,000 Apple Watch as anything but an attempt to get credibility from serious timepiece collectors and aficionados — the sort of people who usually spend $10,000 on a Rolex, not a gadget.
But that strategy makes little sense with a device that’ll be outdated within a few years, and Apple quickly gave up on that extreme high end of the market. The company still makes stainless steel watches and has a partnership with the luxury retailer Hermès, which makes expensive leather straps for the Watch. But for the most part, the less expensive aluminum watches are what you’ll see on people’s wrists.
These days, you’ll see plenty of them on people’s wrists. While Android Wear (now Wear OS) never quite caught on, the Apple Watch’s popularity has continued to grow. At this point, it’s a polished, refined product that’s fast and reliable, if not something that’s essential as a smartphone for most people. But like most Apple products, it definitely has a devoted following — something that seemed far from a certainty when the first Apple Watch hit stores four years ago.