Apple Watch’s Smooth Flow Attention to Detail

Apple is known for attention to detail, and I’ve just found a pleasing example in my Apple Watch.

Horologists have long appreciated one particular aesthetic of mechanical movements vs. quartz—the smooth flow of the minute and second hands.

Back in the 80’s the sign of a fake Rolex was the lumbering click of a quartz movement, since the genuine article would have a smoothly sweeping second hand. And even today that smooth flow from instant to instant remains a signature of high quality timepieces. It’s not that you can’t make a nice, accurate quartz-based watch. The problem is more that it’s too easy to do so.

So, transitioning from my everyday watch (a current generation stainless Submariner) to the Apple Watch, I was worried about losing things like this.

I’m happy to have noticed immediately that Apple emulated this cleanly in their software. If you notice in the video above, the second hand is not only moving smoothly, but the minute hand is also sweeping slowly and gradually between minute markers.

No abrupt ticks. That would be a sign of a lesser…um, movement.

I’ve been extremely pleased with the Apple Watch thus far. I am planning on it replacing my Submariner permanently, and I have no intention of buying another Rolex. For me the combination of both form and function are just too compelling to go back to analog.


  1. I’m actually quite curious as to whether the other brands (Samsung et al) did the same thing, or if they have their second hands ticking from second to second. Anyone know?

  2. The only other mechanical watch I’ll ever buy is probably the NOMOS that I wrote about here. It’s a thing of beauty.

  3. I seriously hope that NOMOS, Rolex, Patek, and other premier brands authorize Apple to release/sell their official watch faces. The NOMOS font for the numbers, spacing on second hand, etc. are all primary components of their quality, and it would be phenomenal to transfer some of that IP to the digital world. I know I’d definitely purchase some. I’m sure they’ll hate it, but the alternative seems to be certain demise.

  4. I will still wear my mechanical watches on occasion, but with the inability to adjust to timezone changes, the high degree of inaccuracy, and the need to manually adjust date every other month, they’ve officially moved into the pure jewelry genre.

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