The Apple Watch is a pretty big chunk of cash for an unknown quantity. To erase the mental pressure myself, and generate some reassurance that I wasn’t blowing the cash, I took myself over to Brighton for a Watch try-on session last week .

I was met by a nice chap called Rich (38mm steel with classic buckle on pre-order, apparently), and guided carefully through the watches. First up with the one I’ve pre-ordered: the 42mm with the Milanese Loop. Would it fit? Would I like the loop?

I was a little concerned. People have joked in the past by comparing me to a tyrannosaurus rex – tiny arms for my size of body. But the 42mm was a very comfortable size on the wrist:

Apple Watch 42mm steel with Milanese Loop

As for the loop – well, wow. It’s a very supple, smooth band, and I immediately understood the comparisons with fabric. It feels beautiful on the wrist, and looks pretty damn good to my eyes, too. The weave is tight enough that I’m not worried about trapping one of the (plentiful) hairs on my arms. A very comfortable wear.

The magnet is surprisingly powerful, and the band feels very secure indeed on the wrist. I’m very pleased – I’m confident that I’ve made the right choice for myself.

Mmm. Leather.

Next up, I wanted a look at one of the leather straps. I’m a big fan of Apple’s recent experiments with leather. I have the brown leather case for my iPhone 5S, and while it feel horribly plastic-like at first, it has aged really attractively:

Iphone 5s leather case

Not to everyone’s taste, I’m sure. But I like the distressed look. The brown leather loop has a similar slightly plastically feel right out of the cabinet, but I’m confident that it’ll age in a pleasing fashion. It works almost identically to the milanese loop, so I really like it as a more casual choice. A good contender for my second band, if I like the watch:

Apple Watch - brown leather loop

I also tried on the classic buckle – and really disliked it. It’s far too “fussy” aesthetically for me. Not something I’ll be buying.

Life in plastic, it’s…

Last up, I decided to try a sports band. I’m hoping to do a bit more strenuous exercise in the near future (I even have a bike – it needs servicing, but I have it). A sports band seems like a good call. But I really didn’t want one of the fluoroelastomer bands as my default. The rubber-like material? That’s just going to be too sweaty.

That said, I was surprised when I tried it on:

Apple Watch Sport - Black Band

The demo case only had a black band attached to a Sport Watch – and it’s really noticeably lighter than the Steel one. The Apple Watch is a noticeable presence on your wrist without being heavy, while the Apple Watch Sport is virtually unnoticeable once it is on. It was less “present” than even my Jawbone UP24. And the band? A very different feel to what I expected. It’s more of a silicone texture to the touch than traditional rubber. Very smooth, very cool.

I still couldn’t see myself wearing one full-time, but I could happily use it for exercising. And I can really see why the back aluminium and black band combo has been so popular. They look great together.

Try-on Specifics

The watches you actually try on are not “live”. They’re running through a demo loop, so you can’t really explore how the watch operates during the sessions. There were plenty of live watches, entered into demo units in the Brighton Apple Store, so I had plenty of time to play with them after the try-on session.

No, the try-on session is about fit and aesthetics. It’s much more of a fashion experience than a tech experience, and that’s a big change. I’m glad I did it – I have the reassurance that I’ve chosen the right initial model and band for myself, and would happily book myself back in, if the watch becomes important to me, and they expand the range of bands.

I’ve actually pre-ordered the brown leather loop, but it’s not showing as shipping until June, so I’ll ave plenty of time to cancel, if I’m under-whelmed with the Watch itself. And that remains the big question: how useful will it actually be once it’s on my wrist?