Are We Really Getting a Round Apple Watch 4?

Sketches of a cool round Apple Watch have just surfaced on the Internet. Most likely they are just wishful thinking from a Chinese draftsman — but perhaps it’s just one more sign that Apple may surprise everyone with such a device next week. Let’s review:

Credit: Slashleaks

(Image credit: Slashleaks)

The Apple patents

Back in May, Apple got a patent for a watch with a circular face from the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Titled “electronic device having display with curved edges," the patent goes deep in details about how a circular display can be used to show graphic information in such a device as opposed to the rectangular screen shape.

Credit: Apple/USPTO

(Image credit: Apple/USPTO)

A patent is not a sure sign that Apple will be releasing a new product based on its contents, but it’s indicative that the company is putting some really serious thought on how to make it work.

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There is another Apple patent that shows a round watch in its diagrams, too, but this can just be coincidence, as this kind of documentation often uses imagery that is obscure on purpose.

The Apple event invite

The Apple event we received last week said “Gather round”. Over it, a circular shape.

There are many theories about what this graphic means — and of course one of the most obvious one is the indication that there will be a Watch with a circular face coming in.

Credit: Apple

(Image credit: Apple)

The graphic on the “gather round” invite may also be a red herring. Despite the fun theories, it may just be a representation of Apple’s new headquarters from the top.

The sketchy sketch

The alleged sketch of the circular Apple Watch is the weakest of the potential evidence. Conveniently angled and staged with a phone and some scribbled specs — 1.3-inch AMOLED display with a resolution of 360 x 360 pixels in line with Samsung’s Galaxy Watch, Wi-Fi 802.11bg, NFC... — it is most likely a wishful thought by a skilled illustrator.

On the other hand, unlike concept renderings that showed an impossible thing body, at least this one has a proper thickness and feels realistic (not real, but realistic).

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The arguments against a round watch

There are arguments to be made against a circular Apple Watch coming this Fall. First, sure, it’s workable according to the patent, but it introduces yet another screen shape that developers will have to cater to. That alone will be a hard ask.

Credit: Tom's Guide

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

But, on the other hand, there seems to be quite a lot of interest, judging from all the dreamy eyed fanboy speculation. And if Apple is serious about making the watch a fashion accessory as much as it is a sports accessory, a round display in the catalog makes sense.

Just a venue pun? Maybe not.

There has already been presentations at the new Apple HQ’s Steve Jobs Theater, so it doesn’t make a lot of sense to use that shape now for the invite. And, more importantly, Apple is well known for making cryptic connections between their invite messages and the products to be announced at the events — not the places in which it celebrates these gatherings.

Then there’s the fact that reputed Apple analyst Ming Chi Kuo — who seems to be always right about his predictions — didn’t speak at all about a circular Apple Watch in his last note about these devices.

Can Tim Cook pull a “There’s one more thing” rabbit out of Apple's proverbial magic hat? We will see on September 12.

Jesus Diaz

Jesus Diaz founded the new Sploid for Gawker Media after seven years working at Gizmodo, where he helmed the lost-in-a-bar iPhone 4 story and wrote old angry man rants, among other things. He's a creative director, screenwriter, and producer at The Magic Sauce, and currently writes for Fast Company and Tom's Guide.