Apple Watch Ultra: is it still an Apple design or is it a Rolex?

Apple has struck a chord with the cool new Apple Watch Ultra. Even more: Just one day after the keynote, the delivery times for some ultra versions are already in November, so demand is high. But the design is also a real surprise and breaks with old Apple Watch standards . To me, the watch looks a bit like a mix of a Nautilus and G-Shock – and a bit of an Omega Seamaster. One can almost ask, is this still a genuine Apple product? So it seems like sacrilege that the action button is not only clearly highlighted, but even marked in bright orange.

There are certain similarities with Nautilus

However, you have to look at the Ultra from two aspects: Of course, it offers great technology that makes the watch a first-class sports watch (which we will test later). The new Ultra is certainly a full-fledged sports watch, and Apple’s announcement is almost too emphatic about how great the app is for diving, marathons and alpine sports. The old Apple Watch was really lacking here, for example in terms of battery life and robustness.

Few will use the Ultra as hard as the extreme athletes in Apple's ads.
Few will use the Ultra as hard as the extreme athletes in Apple’s ads.


But don’t be fooled: Most users won’t be wearing Apple’s new premium Apple Watch on Annapurna, but in the office or at Oktoberfest. I even suspect that extreme athletes may not be the real target audience for Apple, but rather the well-funded fans of a utility watch. Ultra is a whole new breed of Apple Watch. There are basically two categories of watches: Dressage and tool watches. Until now, Apple watches have actually been so-called dress watches: neat and simple watches that the style-conscious can wear with their suits. With an Apple Watch of this type, the front glass of the watch is therefore also gently rounded, elements such as the crown, microphone and speaker are only imperceptibly highlighted. As a result, this watch looks elegant and “as if it were made of one piece”. The concept suits Apple well, but for some watch fans, the Apple Watch is just too boring.

See Apple Watch 8 on Amazon

In addition to the dressage watches, there is the huge and expensive category of tool watches. These are diving and pilot watches such as the Rolex Submariner, Omega Speedmaster and Nautilus from Patek. Here, “functionality” is in the foreground and their manufacturers celebrate a connection to sports and adventure with huge sums – although these watches are almost always used in everyday life and only rarely on lunar expeditions. And with a tool watch there are form requirements: it has to be big, huge operation is a must (“so you can operate the watch with gloves”) and the connection to adventure is extremely important. Incidentally, there have even been models with an integrated emergency call system for years, such as the Breitling Emergency.

The design language of the new Ultra therefore adopts elements of these sports watches, perhaps not just for functional reasons. These include the huge crown of a diving watch and the mighty porthole case of the Nautilus. For the first time in an Apple Watch, the new front glass is completely flat and angular, and both the new action button and the crown are marked with an orange signal color so clearly that the Ultra can be recognized from a distance. The microphones and speaker are also clearly recognizable in the case. The titanium watch case stands out from the smooth polished watch case of the original Apple Watch and gives a robust, metallic impression – like an expensive but solid utility device. The new Ultra is more brutal than the Apple Watch 8, but in my opinion it’s still a real Apple product – but Apple’s interpretation of a utility watch.

Not everyone will like the new Ultra, the design is less “smooth” than the Apple Watch 8 and quite macho. In my opinion, the new Ultra will be a hit despite the high Euro price and could also convince Omega and Rolex fans for the first time. Actually, it is almost secondary whether it will also be a success with athletes.

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