Apple Watch

Why I returned my 38mm Apple Watch

improve Apple Watch

Late last week, I made the trip to my local FedEx drop-off, where I reluctantly handed them a box containing my launch day 38mm stainless steel Apple Watch. I initiated the return process a few weeks back, when I was within what I had thought was the 14-day return period. The Apple Store website makes it easy to setup a return, offering options to drop off at a local Apple Store or ship via Fedex, at no charge. To my surprise, the return period was a lengthy 30 days. During that timeframe, it’s mostly been gracing my monitor stand, replaced by a younger (by two weeks) Apple Watch Sport. The 30-day return window provided me with the opportunity to have an extended look at the stainless steel beauty. In the end, I didn’t have returner’s remorse. Here’s why I returned my Apple Watch.

return Apple Watch

38 is too small, for me

Before ordering my Apple Watch, I thought I had taken all the necessary steps. I measured my wrist and printed out paper watches. Having yet to see one in person, photos that appeared in the first reviews depicted a watch that was oversized. I haven’t worn a watch regularly since I started carrying a Treo back in 2002. Smartphones helped kill off watches, only to see them usher in their resurgence. There was a concern that a larger watch would feel like a giant boat anchor.

38mm 42mm Apple Watch

Once my order had been placed, I scheduled my try-on, hoping to vindicate my original thoughts on going with the 38mm. My first try-on appointment was nothing to write home about. The watches were out of power, so I was left staring at a black hole. Figuring this was just about size, I soldiered on through my try-on. I brought my now exceedingly dumb watch for reference. My thought had been, I like wearing this size watch, so naturally it’ll be a good fit with the Apple Watch.

A few things I learned after weeks of wearing the Apple Watch in both 38mm and 42mm sizes. You get used to wearing a watch and there isn’t that much difference in size between the two, provided it looks good for your wrist. For things like entering your passcode, finding an app or replying to a message, you can almost instantly appreciate the slightly larger display.

Concerns over wear, impact on resale value

At this point, I’ve spent equal time with both the stainless Apple Watch and the Apple Watch Sport. Knowing these might eventually be returned, they were babied. For the time being, I’m lucky enough to work from home. These haven’t exactly been exposed to the cruel, harsh world. Despite what I’d deem to be equal usage and care, inexplicably, the stainless steel model had what I describe as fine scratches to the surface. What we’ve learned from years of classic iPod usage, is that fine scratches to stainless steel can be removed with a mixture of Crest toothpaste or some Brasso. As noted in our forums , perhaps that’s not enough and you have to take even further steps. This, after a few weeks of use?


Some would say that scratches add character. Those aren’t the same people who will buy your first generation Apple Watch. As someone who always has an eye on next year, resale value matters. If the Apple Watch shows this many scratches after just a few weeks, what’s this thing going to look like when it’s time to put it on Craigslist? And no, I’m not putting this exquisite piece of hardware in some foolish case.

Apple Watch scratch

Forum member and contributing author Michael Baturin had difficulty removing this Apple Watch scratch.

I read this guy’s review

This guy makes some really good points in his Apple Watch review. Okay, that’s me, but what’s wrong with a little self-back slapping. If history tells us anything, Apple’s second generation products see big improvements. The Apple Watch is a bit on the chunky side, apps run slow and it continuously pesters me to stand, even though I’m standing. Overall, I really do like the Apple Watch, but I know I’m going to love the second generation Apple Watch that much more. It’ll be thinner, maybe lighter and the software will be less janky. I’m sure first generation devices will see the benefit of software upgrades, but the extent is still unknown.

That in mind, it all comes down to dollars. Is the first generation Apple Watch worth a $600 plus investment, when all of its conveniences can be had with the less expensive Apple Watch Sport?

What’s Next

I’m currently on my second Apple Watch, the sports edition with a white band. It’s the watch you want to wear to let folks know you’re rocking an Apple Watch. It’s the 2015 edition of the white headphones, the ones that pegged you as owning an iPod. In addition to this one, I’ve got two on order, both of which are the mid-tier Apple Watch. Scratches and first gen hardware be damned, I just love the look of the watch case. The first, a classic buckle, was ordered weeks ago, when I had an incredible disdain for all things sports band. I’ve grown fond of it now and it’s also the least expensive option. I ordered a 42mm with black sports band today. If shipping times were equal, I’d just order that model and call it a day. Shipping on these watches is starting to feel like the lottery. Between shipping delays and the way the wind blows, who knows what watch I’ll be wearing come July. The only sure bet is that it’ll be an Apple Watch.



  1. shashibiya

    May 18, 2015 at 6:17 pm

    I don’t get all these reports about the stainless steel Watch being a scratch magnet. I’ve been wearing mine for over two weeks, it’s had its share bumps and knocks, and except for some micro-scratches on the tab end of the Milanese band that I have to turn my wrist just so and squint to see, it’s as pristine as when it came out of the box. I’d have to be pretty anal to consider that a reason to return it.

  2. Hoits

    May 18, 2015 at 10:10 pm

    So how do they compare, each model? Does the sport look or feel cheap in comparison to the SS?

    I had the release day SS 42mm but sold it because I couldn’t pass up the $400 profit. I’m thinking of ordering another watch but the sport this time only because of the price difference and I’m hesitant because it just looks cheap from what I’ve seen so far.

    • Christopher Meinck

      May 19, 2015 at 10:01 am

      I’ve been back and forth on this, as you can see by my purchase of the 42MM Sport. I made that purchase after my first try-on, when I realized I needed a bigger display. Now having and wearing the Sport, I can appreciate the look of the stainless model. The side button and Digital Crown feel nicer. The hardware reminds me of the steps Apple took with the first iPhone, sparing no expense to deliver a premium product.

      It’s a tough call, mostly because of it being a first generation product and the cost. For me, there’s a psychological factor when the price exceeds $499 and a base 42MM is $599.

      This could change, but here’s my take. Upgrade to the stainless, but don’t spend the extra dollars on Apple’s bands. You can always upgrade to those or get a similar look for less. I’m keeping on eye on my two orders. If their delivery dates are close, I’m going to cancel the black leather band and stick with the 42MM stainless with sport band.

      Odds are strong that I return this 42MM Sport. Initiated one through Apple and have until June 1st to send it back. I hope all this shuffling doesn’t leave me without a watch for too long.

      Good luck with your choice!

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