Cook's comments came in a wide-ranging discussion with Fast Company about the device and the company as a whole.
These are lots of insights that are years in the making, the result of careful, deliberate...try, try, try...improve, improve, improve. Don’t ship something before it’s ready. Have the patience to get it right. And that is exactly what’s happened to us with the watch. We are not the first.
We weren’t first on the MP3 player; we weren’t first on the tablet; we weren’t first on the smartphone. But we were arguably the first modern smartphone, and we will be the first modern smartwatch—the first one that matters.
Cook also discussed how Apple designed the user interface on the Apple Watch:
You look at the watch, and the primary technologies are software and the UI [user interface]. You’re working with a small screen, so you have to invent new ways for input. The inputs that work for a phone, a tablet, or a Mac don’t work as well on a smaller screen. Most of the companies who have done smartwatches haven’t thought that through, so they’re still using pinch-to-zoom and other gestures that we created for the iPhone.
Try to do those on a watch and you quickly find out they don’t work. So out of that thinking come new ideas, like force touch. [On a small screen] you need another dimension of a user interface. So just press a little harder and you bring up another UI that has been hidden. This makes the screen seem larger, in some ways, than it really is.
The Apple Watch is the company's first new product line introduced during Cook's tenure as CEO. It goes on sale April 24, with a preview and presale period beginning April 10.
Cook also said that late Apple CEO Steve Jobs' greatest gift to the world was Apple "and its culture."
Read the rest of the interview at Fast Company.