Apple loves adding the word ‘Pro’ to the names of its most popular products. First there was the MacBook Pro, which gave its buyers a reassuring pat on the back that their work was more valuable than those making do with the more affordable MacBook or MacBook Air.
Then along came the iPad Pro, with its huge screen, Apple Pencil stylus and, later, USB-C, a huge performance bump, and a design all of its own. More recently, we saw the iPhone 11 Pro and this was quickly followed by the most incongruous use of the name yet, the AirPods Pro.
Sold by the same company who offers the Mac Pro, a computer with a five-figure price tag and genuinely aimed at professional film editors, animators and the like, ‘professional’ earphones seem a little strange.
But this is today’s Apple, and it doesn’t look like the Pro name is going away anytime soon. So let’s embrace it and, as Business Insider thoughtfully did this week, imagine a future featuring the Apple Watch Pro.
Horological fans will know that putting the word ‘Professional’ on a watch can have huge significance. Omega added the word to the dial of its Speedmaster after it became the world’s only watch to be certified by Nasa for use in space. Other watchmakers are no strangers to selling multiple versions of similar timepieces, increasing the price in line with the use of precious metals, and fitting movements with extra complications like stopwatches and moon phase dials.
Taking the Swiss watchmakers’ lead for inspiration, Apple could fit the Pro name to its most feature-rich Watch, then offer a simpler and more affordable version for those who don’t need a compass and mobile phone on their wrist.
While a Watch Pro is an interesting prospect, offering every conceivable smartwatch feature for those who want it, what’s equally interesting is what Apple could fit beneath the flagship. We’d love to see a cut-price Watch (Watch SE, perhaps?) with a similar design and an always-on display, but without fall detection, 4G, a compass, GPS and the ability to take an ECG.
Apple already offers a range of Watch models, but it does so by continuing to sell older versions at reduced prices. While these look like a steal today, they will be the first to stop receiving software updates, potentially in just a few years’ time. A new model launched in 2020, but with reduced features, would have a shelf life as long as a Watch Pro of the same vintage.
As for the Watch Pro itself, we don’t think Apple should again attempt to sell the Watch as a luxury item, as it did with the poor-selling and short-lived Watch Edition, which was made of gold and had a five-figure price tag. Issues with smartwatches lasting a matter of years instead of the decades of use expected from a traditional luxury watch mean Apple should avoid such folly.
Instead, we would like to see the Watch Pro as a technological tour de force, giving Apple the headroom to show off with advanced health and fitness technologies. That way, those who want the very best - or have a genuine need for potential future features like glucose monitoring - can opt for the Pro, while those who just want a timepiece made by Apple can opt for the lesser model.
Although Apple itself doesn’t reveal sales figures for each model of Watch, it has been suggested that the cut-price Watch Series 3 - which is currently sold alongside the Watch Series 5, two years its junior - has helped the company in the mid-range wearable market. Where it previously aimed exclusively at the top of the market, Apple now has a grasp of the middle too; there is clear demand for a more affordable Watch, and the company should capitalise on this with a Watch 6 and Watch 6 Pro later this year.