As someone who has been writing about the Apple Watch for eight years, my first impression of the Apple Watch Ultra is that it’s the biggest change to the Apple Watch in its history–yet is recognizably an Apple Watch.
The Ultra, with its big 49mm face, is the biggest Apple Watch ever. It’s got the rounded corners that make it clear that it’s an Apple Watch, but the display’s glass is completely flat and runs right into its titanium frame. It’s a very different, striking look.
But more than that, this is a chunky Apple Watch. The digital crown, an elegant design touch on all other Apple Watch models, looks more like something from out of a toolbox. The side button, which was designed to be subtle on the normal Apple Watch, stands out.
And on the other side of the Apple Watch Ultra, there’s 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 kicking off workouts or changing between different workout types, but also showed a diving-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 a big deal of pointing out that each was designed in consultation with athletes in extreme sports. That said, the Trail Band–which I used–felt like a somewhat fancier version of the existing sport loop.