Splurging on a gold or steel Apple Watch might get you a fancier timepiece, but there's one thing you won't get: the best possible display. DisplayMate has taken a close look at the OLED screen in the smartwatch, and it notes that sapphire carries its share of drawbacks over the toughened glass in the Watch Sport. While you're still getting colorful, sharp visuals, the higher-end Watch's sapphire reflects almost twice as much light and washes out the picture in very bright conditions. And no, Apple can't use an anti-glare coating to fix this -- that would scratch easily, which misses the whole point of sapphire.
More from DisplayMate:
The premium Apple Watch models have a sapphire crystal rather than using a cover glass like on the iPhone 6 and most smartphones. That is the same approach used on premium traditional watches, but there is one very significant difference between them. The much higher Reflectance of sapphire compared to glass almost doubles the reflected ambient light, which is fine for traditional watches that work by reflecting ambient light, but significantly washes out the image contrast and color on emissive smart watch displays. It’s an interesting compromise between the luxury and scratch resistance of sapphire versus optical performance.Interesting stuff, and helps explains why I haven't much trouble seeing my Sport model's screen in direct sunlight. It's still not a Pebble, of course, but it's significantly better than early reviews led me to believe.