The goal was to free people from their phones, so it is perhaps ironic that the first working Watch prototype was an iPhone rigged with a Velcro strap. “A very nicely designed Velcro strap,” Lynch is careful to add.
The team built a simulator that displayed a life-size image of an Apple Watch on the screen. Software was moving much more quickly than hardware, and the team needed a way to test how it worked on your wrist. There was even an onscreen digital crown—a facsimile of a watch’s classic knob—that you could swipe to spin, but it hardly replicated the feeling of twisting a real crown. Swiping, after all, is what the knob was supposed to replace. So they made a custom dongle, an actual watch crown that plugged into the bottom of the phone through the cord jack. In a sense the first true Apple Watch prototype was, like 10,000 Kickstarter projects, just a weird iPhone case with a strange accessory sticking out of it.
A super sexy (I like WIRED's new look) behind the scenes history of the Apple Watch by David Pierce, in where we're all helpfully reminded ("Hi David, this is Apple, how'd you like to come to Cupertino to do a behind the scenes piece on the Watch we're about to release") that the oh so finely finessed hardware and software that we all love, has actually been more finely finessed than we can ever know.