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In the Product Scrum at the Apple Watch Event, the MacBook -- And Tim Cook -- Float

I always like the supermodel portion of a tech show. Which never happens.

Vjeran Pavic for Re/code

There were a lot of sharp elbows trying to get their wrists in the right spot to slip on a demo version of the much hyped Apple Watch today at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, right after Apple unveiled its newest device.

At the tables where you could actually try on the thing, there were lines like you might get at an artisanal chocolate shop nearby on the day it released a 95 percent cacao bars from Zanzibar. A lot of craning and staring and wanting and, mostly, photographing from all angles. The level of chronicling is pretty astonishing if you see it up close and personal, with everyone jostling to get that special photo of the exact same thing.

Apple could have spent zillions on PR for this, taking out copious ads all over the place, but why bother? The press does it for them (us too!). And, anyway, reporters who cover tech love to ogle at all this gadget porn, which is why it is typically displayed in perfectly lit, don’t-touch cases that entice but do not allow contact.

That is, until the supermodel entered. The cameramen jockeyed for position when Apple CEO Tim Cook escorted Christy Turlington Burns into the exhibit area. For a moment, the cameras weren’t focused on the product, but on the one woman who made it onstage (no, really, Turlington Burns was it for the female representation at the event). She was friendly and open, talking to reporters about her training with the Apple Watch, which included running a marathon in Africa.

Less with the grubby media hoi-polloi was Sir Jony Ive, who did not appear onstage (although his silky British voice narrated a variety of videos played today). He was selectively hobnobbing with guests, all while deftly avoiding the technology press. That makes sense since Ive has been burning up the pages of a variety of popular publications of late, talking up the fashion and lifestyle implications of the Apple Watch.

My Apple Watch BFF Kurt!
My Apple Watch BFF Kurt!

It sure is pretty, of course, artfully designed and the closest anyone in tech has gotten to getting it right. It feels on the wrist — I got to the front of the line and did a turn with a very faboo demo dude named Kurt — like a very expensive and heavy watch, but not so much so as to be uncomfy. That was a surprise, since so many smart watches are so very bulky and feel ungainly. This one surely does not, although I was only wearing it for a short time.

It’s too bad that the watch stole so much of the attention from the pretty fantastic new MacBook, which is perhaps the product demoed today that deserved more kudos. While a much-needed “reinvention” — as Cook called it — of the older MacBook, it’s a doozy of an upgrade. Elegant, sleek and so thin that it looked like it floated on air — which is why Apple had it doing so as you entered the product area. It was a stunning way to consider a tech device — as if it could fly away on its paper-thin wings at any moment.

Also floating was Cook, who looked much lighter too and was all smiles. He is a famously shy person, but today he could not seem to mask the gleefulness he clearly felt at introing the first product completely made under his leadership.

As I wrote earlier in a liveblog of the event: “Is it just me or does Tim Cook finally look completely comfortable onstage, like he owns it? There is a subtle confidence I have not seen from him here, the theater that Steve Jobs built.”

There is no doubt too that with this Apple Watch, Cook has taken over the place now completely from the overarching ghost of the company’s iconic founder. Jobs had done many launches here, all of which were memorable, because he was the consummate showman of tech.

While Cook is not someone you would ever describe that way, the man onstage today managed to pull that trick off too, all while also ruling over the most valuable public company in the world at this moment in time.

As the old saying goes, there’s no time like the present. Or, more aptly, given Cook just gave birth to the Apple Watch, here’s the twist on that cliche: There’s no present like the time.

Dawn Chmielewski contributed to this report.

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