As someone who has been writing about the Apple Watch for eight years, my first impression of the Apple Watch Ultra is that it is the biggest change in the Apple Watch in its history, yet it is clearly an Apple Watch.
The Ultra, with its large 49mm dial, is the largest Apple Watch ever. It has the rounded corners that make it clear that it’s an Apple Watch, but the glass of the screen is completely flat and runs right into the titanium frame. It’s a very different, eye-catching look.
But more than that, this is a fat Apple Watch. The digital crown, an elegant design touch on all other Apple Watch models, looks more like something out of a toolbox. The side button, which is designed to be subtle on the regular Apple Watch, stands out.
And on the other side of the Apple Watch Ultra is the action button. It’s bright ‘international orange’ – think the color of the Golden Gate Bridge – and is designed to be set by the user. Apple demonstrated starting workouts or switching between different types of workouts, but also showed a dive computer app that used the action button for its own purposes.
And it wouldn’t be a new Apple Watch without new bands. Apple made it a big point to point out that each is designed in consultation with extreme sports athletes. That said, the Trail Band – which I was using – felt like a slightly more exclusive version of the existing sport run.