As always I am late to the party when it comes to new device adoptions as I like to settle the first impression, study reviews and watch videos about them. This is no difference with the Apple Watch Ultra which was released in late 2022 as an additional option to the normal Apple Watch models, i.e. the SE and the S8.
I didn't wear a watch for about 20 years since I got my first Apple Watch S5 in 2019 - also not an early adopter. Since then I really got used to have a watch on my arm and especially having this little computer always with me brought some benefits.
I got the cellular model which allowed me to use it entirely without my phone even for phone calls. I used it for navigation, notifications of all kinds, alarm clock and also tracking my activity. The latter part became more important to me lately.
I also engaged my mother in law to get one 2 years ago (the S6). The use cases here are to monitor her vital data such as blood oxygen which became very important during Covid 19. She got used to it very well and thanks sharing the health data we can monitor this as well.
Issues with my S5
The problem with the traditional models always was the battery life. I had to charge mine in the evening all the time, and when I planned to wear it during night time, I had to do this even earlier during the evening. Sometimes I charged it in the morning when I was able to monitor my phone for business alarms.
My wife doesn't care about this at all, so I gave it to her. I know her for over 20 years and never saw her wearing a watch - now she also got used to it and she really likes the activity tracking. You can thank me later, Apple ;-)
This is where the Ultra kicks in. The battery is almost double the size from the S8 so that you don't really care about the moment you need to charge it to a 100% - a quick charge (a really quick one by the way) is enough to get an extra 20-30% juice which then will bring you through the day in most cases.
Oh yes, this Ultra model is big and it looks and feels a bit odd once you wear it for the first time. But you know what? You get used to it very fast and I think I would never go back to the "regular" size although my wrists are not that massive. It doesn't look too much of a foreign object at least to me after some days.
Display, build quality
The display is flat which takes away a bit of the original design idea. It's not that slick anymore, it has sharp edges that may interfere with your clothing. It's made to be rugged and durable. The time will tell if the sapphire glass and the titanium case will keep their promise.
The overall build quality is Apple-typical on a high standard. I don't care about the additional action button (I set the torch on it) or the better speakers and microphones as these are also very good on the regular one - at least I could use them to have a quick phone call while driving.
The elephant in the room is the battery life, and yes, it's not disappointing. During my normal usage I managed a whopping 56 hours with display always on and in normal power mode - wow!
Resume after 1 week
This is by far not a long term review, I got this watch one week ago. I charged in 3 times (the first one was only to have 100% after I unpacked it with 70%), which makes it total of 2 charges since then. I wore it 24/7 except during my shower since I use a leather band most of the time.
Don't get fooled
You know me, I love to have different options for the bands. I got the Ultra with the orange Alpine Loop which is nice but not very convenient to put on and off. I like the open bands. I also bought an Apple Trail Loop for a ridiculous price of 100 bucks. Do not do that! Get yourself a perfectly imitated one from Amazon in a combo with other Trail Loops in the other colours for less than 30 bucks!
Try for yourself if you can tell the Apple from the Chinese one:
I love leather bands. I used to use one also from Amazon which is like the sports bands made of silicone but made of genuine leather. This one is not available any more and you also should look for a band specifically made for the Ultra as they are usually a bit broader.
Bandwerk for the win
I tried a leather band from Bandwerk, a German brand from Munich. These are hand-made and the quality is amazing, the connectors are the best fitting I ever had and they perfectly match the material of the Ultra case. The best part: they can even be cheaper than the Apple bands in most cases. Do not buy Apple bands unless you want everything from one vendor! I was so impressed by my first Bandwerk that I bought a second one (using the 10 EUR discount they gave me with the first). They know how to support my addiction here ;-)
You see the Berlin Nappa "Hellbraun" and the Stockholm Vintage "Grå".
It is for me?
I am not a sporty guy and far away from being a person Apple targets with this Ultra watch. I am just enjoying the technology which is built in this very delicate housing and the functionality which comes with Watch OS 9 and the all the apps you can use in general. The battery life of the Ultra is the icing on the cake. The 1000 EUR is a very well invested addition to my daily (tech) life. If you think this is expensive, then just compare it to a Garmin Fenix 6 or a regular mechanical watch of this quality - you will be surprised.