Not Entirely Rational

by Steve Mitchell

“So, Steve,” you may be asking, “I’ve seen your photos of the Apple Watch Sport and of the Apple Watch (stainless steel) and what, exactly, is the difference? They look the same!  Which one is better?  Do I even need an Apple Watch?  How do you use it?”

I’m glad you asked.

Wait.  What?

You didn’t ask?  Well.  But I have these pictures, so …

Here we go!

I’m on day day three with my upgraded, new-to-me Apple Watch and I’m very happy with it.  Today and yesterday, I’ve worn the Milanese loop band with it, and, man oh man, I’m going to hate putting the fluoroelastomer sport band back on when I return to work tomorrow.  The mesh band is seriously comfortable.  It looks nice too, all fashion-y and sort of retro modern, but I do think it will seem dated in a few years.

The entire watch, in it’s current iteration, will probably seem dated in a few years.

Anyhow.  The previous photo I posted doesn’t really show off the visual differences between the two watches.  It’s not easy to capture the mirror polish.  Also, the weight of the watch doesn’t translate.

Here’s both watches for comparison.


The 38mm aluminum Apple Watch Sport has a matte finish and is super light, weighing only 25 grams.  The white sport band weighs 47 grams!


The stainless steel Apple Watch, above, has a mirror finish, contrasting crown detail, and more heft, weighing 40 grams.  The Milanese loop band weighs 33 grams.


Above, you can see the matte aluminum, and how Mickey looks to the right …


It’s harder to see the polished finish, but, behold!  Mickey now looks to the left!

Okay, you got me.  Mickey always looks at his hour hand.

One more shot of the Milanese loop band:


When I first purchased the Apple Watch Sport, I didn’t know if I’d even use or enjoy the watch.  So, I went with the cheapest model possible.  Luckily, I don’t have giant wrists and the less expensive 38mm watch doesn’t look teeny on my arm.

I discovered I do use and enjoy the watch, very much.  Then I started wishing I had the stainless steel version.


Well, I’ll get to that.

First, let me say, the two versions are functionally identical.  There is zero difference in function – none, nada, zip.

The only difference (besides available accessories) is what they’re made of.

The Apple Watch Sport, as I said, is made of propriety aluminum.  It’s super lightweight and strong and scuff resistant.  It makes a lot of sense for a fitness watch.  The screen is ion-X glass.  It’s less scratch resistant (although still very hard) but more forgiving of impact.

The Apple Watch is made of stainless steel.  It’s heavier and easily scuffed (as are all stainless steel watches).  The screen is made of sapphire crystal and is very, very scratch resistant but less forgiving of impact.   The highly reflective sapphire crystal display isn’t quite as good as the ion-X display in bright, ambient light; although, I haven’t noticed the difference.  Also, with the watch’s heavier weight, some people complain they don’t feel its haptic feedback as easily, but, again, I haven’t noticed any difference.

So, those are really the only differences.  Oh, and the price – the stainless steel is more expensive.  Oh, and the stainless steel watch has more band options, but you can use any of the bands on the sport so long as you don’t mind the polished lugs.

Otherwise, they’re the same and how I use my watch hasn’t changed.

I use it mostly to:

  • tell time
  • get realtime text notifications
  • respond to those texts
  • check my emails
  • set timers
  • set reminders
  • view my calendar
  • see who’s calling/answer phone calls (when my hands are busy)
  • check the weather
  • control my iTunes playback
  • check the battery status of my iPhone
  • pay at checkout with Apple Pay (I’ve only had a couple of opportunities but it’s awesome!)

I work in an industrial environment, on my feet, with my phone in a holster.  I can’t hear my phone when it rings and half the time I can’t feel it vibrate.  With my watch, I always know when my wife or kids text me and I like that.  Also, my phantom, phone, hip vibrations have entirely disappeared!

At home, I like being able to leave my phone laying around, wherever it is, without missing calls or texts.  Some people don’t like immediate notifications, but I prefer it.  If I’m busy, I can still answer in my own time, but I don’t have to devote any mental energy into wondering if anyone has contacted me.  I’ll know it when they do.

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Fine.  That’s enough of that.

The Apple Watch isn’t for everybody and it by no means replaces the phone. But, for the people who find it useful, it’s tremendously useful, regardless of whether it’s aluminum or stainless steel.


Why do I prefer the stainless steel watch?

Well, there’s no rational reason.

It just feels better.

I like the esthetics of it.

To me, the stainless steel watch looks nicer and feels nicer.  In my hand and on my wrist it feels more like fine jewelry and less like a digital watch.  It’s maybe ridiculous for a 47 year old to say, but, wearing the stainless steel watch, I feel more like the grown-assed man I am.

It’s not entirely rational, no.

But I like it.