Apple Watch design: ‘damn good’ or ‘bulky’?


"Would you wear it?" This has been the question asked across the world since the launch of the Apple Watch on Tuesday with all eyes on the device's somewhat chunky design.

The head of LVMH's watch division, Jean-Claude Biver, told a German daily Die Welt that the device looked "like it was designed by a student" and it lacked "sex appeal". However, luxury watchmakers and design experts gave a mixed verdict on the look of Apple's $349 smartwatch to CNBC.

'Damn good' watch

Concerns over the design of smartwatches has plagued the industry with analysts saying that the "geeky" nature of the devices could put consumers off.

Getty Images

But luxury watchmakers told CNBC the look of the Apple device, is impressive.

"The watch is a damn good one," Dave Brailfford, CEO of Garrick, a London based watchmaker, said by phone.

Read MoreLuxury watch shares lose shine on Apple Watch fears

"From a design point of view it is a winner. They have the dimensions right and it is a stylish timepiece. It gets people interested in watches again."

Reinventing the wheel?

The Watch has a number of apps, including messaging and tracking users' heart rates, however some functions only work with an iPhone. But Apple also appealed to the fashion-seeking side of the market by having customizable watch faces, straps and even offering an 18-karat gold version.

Tim Nadin, CEO of British watchmaker IWI said the ability to change the look of the Apple Watch broadens its appeal but added the design is nothing dramatic.

"It looks good, there is no question. The combinations of straps and the way they have done that shows they've made a good watch," Nadin said by phone.

Read MoreApple stock downgraded on iPhone 6, Watch concerns

"They haven't reinvented the wheel in the shape, but the technology is very different."


Apple has got serious about design in recent times, poaching talent from top Swiss watchmakers such as Hublot, and hiring Angela Ahrendts from Burberry. Alexandra Shulman, editor of British Vogue, even attended the launch event at the Flint Center in Cupertino.

Apple Watch 'potentially enormous': Pro

But not all experts are in agreement that apple hit the fashion nail on the head.

"The design is bulky and it's chunky. From the point of view of the tech crowd it will look outdated and it won't satisfy watch wearers," Tamara Senders, fashion analyst at Mintel, told CNBC in a phone interview.

"However good the smartwatches look, there isn't going to be massive appeal because of the design."

Read MoreHere's why investors say 'iMeh' to Apple Watch

Undoubtedly the watch will win the hearts of technology lovers and Apple fans alike, but it is the traditional watch wearers that Apple would also like to get on board. Some analysts have said Apple could eat in to the low-end watch market with brands such as Swatch the most vulnerable.

Smartwatch takeoff?

But whether the Apple Watch, or smartwatches in general are going to take off to soon is still up for question.

"I think when a new typology of product gets introduced which the watch is, it takes a long time for consumers to work out why they want one," Alex Newson, senior curator at the Design Museum in London, told CNBC by phone.

"We have been hearing about wearable technologies being a game changer but they have not delivered on their promise, but that's not to say they won't."

- By CNBC's Arjun Kharpal