I’ll bet that AirPods were designed by a small team whereas the watch always felt like design by committee. Certainly one possible reason why there was such a major change in WatchOS 3.
AirPods don’t have the range of functions and are, in fact, very focused, making it easier to hide any complexities. The iPhone does the same by being mainly a phone until the user decides what else they want to do. And both can be marketed that way. Sure they do all sorts of other neat stuff, but that’s the focus. With the watch, there never was a focus on “it tells the time” and oh yes, it can do a bunch of other things. It was always about all the other things. It was marketed that way, and originally designed, the hardware and software, that way. Of course, there were already devices that told you the time and many other things, so how to differentiate. Apple chose to push the complexity or the number of different things.
I own an Apple Watch, a gift from my wife. I like it. But I don’t use it for lots of different things. It tells me time and date. I can get a simple view of upcoming weather, very important in Canada. And it reminds me of things in two ways. First the tap tap when I get a rare text or when an appointment is due. It also allows me to view my to do list, which can include a shopping list. I find that very handy. While I probably wouldn’t have bought it on my own, as I do find the prices rather high, I’m glad I have it. But I don’t try to do very much with it.
Another example of a great comment, this time from Bob. I post the best ones on the main page just in case some of you do not see them.