A few weeks ago, I upgraded my launch Apple Watch (Series 0) to the newly released Apple Watch Series 3. I opted for the aluminium Sports model in Space Grey; the same model and colour I owned before. I was in awe. The new model was faster, had a vastly improved battery life, was now water-proof with GPS, and overall, provided far better watch experience. I was happy. However, I then decided to return this model in favour of the LTE version. This cost £70 more, but had double the storage (8 to 16GB), the option for LTE (should I wish to activate this in the future), but perhaps the biggest reason I decided to go for this model was the ceramic back. The non-LTE version features a composite (plastic) back, and I was concerned about scratches. Okay, so I wore the new LTE model with a ceramic back for around 3 days, before having buyers remorse once again. Shouldn’t I have just opted for the the stainless steel model? I had always liked the look of the Space Black stainless steel version. I thought about this briefly, and then finally pulled the trigger.
BUYING THE WATCH
I picked-up my Space Black stainless steel model from Brent Cross last week. Unboxing the stainless steel model was a completely different experience. The watch ships in a square box instead of the longer box of the Sports model. The premium feel is enhanced with the Apple Watch sitting well presented on top as soon as you take the cover off. The accessories are the same as the Sports model, with a wall charger and Apple magnetic charging puck. However, the charging puck is finished with a stainless steel backing, as opposed to the plastic one included with the Sports model. There is no plastic box for the Apple Watch anymore, which was disappointing as this was included with the launch Apple Watches (including the Sports versions).
Once on my wrist, I immediately knew that I had made the right decision to upgrade from the aluminium model. It definitely looks and feels like a far superior product. I was slightly concerned that the shiner aesthetics of the stainless steel model would be a little too ‘out there’, but once out of the Apple Store, the colour/finish is much more refined. My initial apprehension about the heavier weight were also ill-founded. In actuality, I found the slightly heavier weight only added to the premium feel of the Apple Watch.
The stainless steel model features the same ceramic backing found on the LTE Sports model, as well as a sapphire screen (as opposed to the Ion-X display found on the Sports model). The sapphire screen has a nicer look, and doesn’t feel as plastic-like as the Ion-X. Apart from that, the satisfaction of owning a much more durable screen is reassuring. Being somewhat fanatical about keeping gadgets looking pristine, it made complete sense to opt for a model with enhanced durability. The text around the back of the case is etched in, as opposed to being printed, which is a nice touch, and enhances that high-end watch feel.
The only slight negative about owning a stainless steel model is that it is an absolute fingerprint magnet! I like to keep my gadgets in pristine condition, and find myself cleaning the stainless steel quite a bit. Fortunately, this is easy enough to do so with a lint-free cloth, and is a small price to pay for the premium look.
LETS TALK BANDS!
One of the biggest advantages of owning a stainless steel watch is the wider range of compatible watch straps. I found that quite a few of them paired well with the aluminium model, but there were a few of the more premium leather and metal bands only work well (aesthetically) with the stainless steel models. I have been particularly infatuated with the space black link bracelet, which retails for £549. This makes it a considerable purchase, only £100 shy of the actual price of the watch itself! Perhaps an option to consider in the future. However, I do own the black leather loop which I used with my space grey aluminium watch in the past. It looked compatible enough, but having now tried it on the stainless steel model, can genuinely report that it is much more suited here.
I now have 4 bands for my Apple Watch, all of which I feel are greatly suited to the stainless steel model, and work well with a range of dress-styles/activities. Briefly, here they are:
Sport loop (everyday general use).
Sport band (sporting activities).
Nylon strap (casual / smart-casual).
Leather loop (formal attire).
Conclusively, I think that you really have to try out the stainless steel model to fully appreciate the difference and upgrade over the Sports version. Owning the aluminium iteration since launch and having never tried on any of the other watches, I couldn’t fully appreciate how much more of a premium feel it has. As a result, I don’t believe I could now go back to an aluminium Apple Watch. I will be doing a separate blog post and video, highlighting the differences between the stainless steel and aluminium sports models. Subscribe to my blog/YouTube channel if you’d like to see that!
Here is a video of the unboxing and my thoughts:
2 thoughts on “Apple Watch Series 3 – Stainless Steel Space Black”
How would you say the difference between the alum GPS and alum GPS – LTE is – worth the £60 or so premium for the latter? I can understand the benefit of the extra storage, but what does the ceramic back do in terms of feel? I cannot use the LTE functionality as I’m on Vodafone (and business account as well), but for the minor price difference I may be tempted anyway.
I know you basically recommend the SS in this post, but for me the price jump from £429 to £649 is a bit high.
I’d say the small price jump to go from GPS to cellular is definitely worth it. You’ll get a ceramic back which is less prone to scratching. This can happen with repeated charges from the charging puck, but they’ll be very faint, and probably develop over time. I noticed this from the ceramic back from my 2015 AW.
I also cannot use the LTE (I’m on O2 as only have signal from them in my house), but hoping support will come soon. You also get double the onboard storage from 8 to 16GB. The ceramic back also looks a lot nicer and shinier! I’ll try to post some pictures up shortly.