So here it is: The Apple Watch. A full six months after seeing Apple's first wearable, we have finally got our hands on what the company calls the most personal product it has ever made.

First and foremost, this is a smartwatch. That means we have a small computer with a touch screen and a Bluetooth connection to your iPhone, through which the watch receives notifications like texts, emails, tweets and Facebook messages, plus incoming calls, alerts to events in your calendar and an awful lot more. Passed from the watch to your phone is data about your movement, fitness and heart rate.

Watch uses all-new software which takes some getting used to. From the customisable watch faces and 'Glance' screens, to the app-covered home screen, settings menus, notification centre and favourites page, there's a lot going on here and most of it is brand new.

Apple Watch: Design

Apple Watch
The rear of the Apple Watch houses a heart rate monitor for recording exercise IBTimes UK

But first the design. This is the best-looking smartwatch I've ever used. The Huawei Watch and LG Watch Urbane both look stunning in publicity photos, but in the flesh they are too big and fail to deliver the sense of luxury given off by their looks. The Apple Watch is different. The first thing you notice is its roundness. It's true that the screen is square, but the case is rounded and curved at every edge, and even the larger 42mm model (the length of the case) is no larger in any direction than my Tissot.

The 38mm version is petite, and when paired with the soft leather Modern Buckle strap it could almost be described as dainty. I found it to be slightly too small - not to use necessarily, but to look at - and would opt for the 42mm. Anyone - especially women - with small wrists have until now been largely ignored by huge Android Wear watches from LG, Motorola and Huawei; the 38mm Apple Watch gives them a practical alternative. Also catering for small wrists is how Apple sells all strap styles in three lengths - small, medium and large.

Apple Watch
The case comes in two sizes, measured vertically, of 38mm and 42mm IBTimes UK

I tried several different straps and found them all to be high quality - what you'd expect from a watch costing hundreds or even thousands of pounds. The Modern Buckle strap in particular, although only available on the 38mm model, is made from beautifully soft leather, and I like how the Leather Loop, although firmer to the touch, is held together by magnets hidden inside it. Straps are interchangeable and removing them is as easy as pressing a button where they connect to the case.

Using the Apple Watch

The screen lights up to show the time when you raise your wrist, but cannot be left on permanently. As an alternative, you can dive into the settings app and switch this off, so instead the screen is switched on by tapping it twice.

Swiping down from the top reveals your notifications, just like on the iPhone and iPad, and swiping up gives access to Glances. These are snippets of apps, such as an overview of your stock prices, the weather forecast, and how close you are to completing your fitness goals. Tap any of these to open the full app.

Apple Watch
The Leather Loop strap, pictured here, uses magnets to stay closed IBTimes UK

A long, firm press of the watch face opens the list of alternative faces, each of which can be customised - by changing the colour of the second hand, or making the dial 24 hours, for example - and 'complications' like the date, weather forecast and a second time zone can be added or removed. Pressing the crown takes you to the application home page, and from there a second press returns you to the time.

Pressing the imaginatively named 'side button', which is identical to the iPhone's screen lock button and will no doubt initially confuse Watch owners, brings up a page of your favourite contacts. From here you use the Digital Crown to scroll around, click it to select and then either call them, or send a canned iMessage (or one dictated to the watch and sent as a text or audio recording). Friends who both own an Apple Watch can send each other sketches drawn on the screen, a recording of each other's heartbeat, or a pattern tapped onto the screen.

Sending your heartbeat to a friend is undoubtedly a daft gimmick which few owners will use more than once, but otherwise the software is well presented and logical - once you've learnt where everything is and taught yourself not to use the side button to unlock it.

Apple Watch
The aluminium Watch Sport starts at £299 for the 38mm model and comes in five colours IBTimes UK

Apple Watch: Early verdict

Having spent an hour or so with various models of Watch, I was surprised at how much I now want one. Its hardware is a long way ahead of the competition, and the software feels much more finished and feature rich than Android Wear, without being too complicated.

I'm still not fully convinced that the smartwatch as a concept is something which can be a mass-market success like the iPhone. It has no specific use or "killer feature" to give it a reason for being - but then neither did the iPad when that arrived five years ago, and it didn't stop Apple selling millions of them. The Watch is expensive, but (ignoring the Edition) not shockingly so. The battery life will need to last a day, every single day, and developers will need to come up with thousands of cool and genuinely useful ways of using Watch.

Apple Watch
Apple sells the Watch with a variety of rubber, leather and metal straps. All comes in three sizes IBTimes UK

If the Watch can pass these early tests then it will be a success. We should all remember that this is version one. The first iPod didn't have a colour screen; the first iPhone didn't have 3G, copy-and-paste or an App Store; the first iPad was big, heavy and didn't have a Full HD screen.

There is a lot of headroom for the Watch to develop and grow into something much more impressive, just as its predecessors have, but the real challenge now is for Apple to convince us the smartwatch concept is worth investing in.