On the issue of battery life versus display, Pebble has, for the most part, succeeded. The display is always on, easily readable outdoors and indoors, and the battery life is 5 days. It does have far fewer functions than those anticipated for the iWatch, however.
It's only going to work as part of a larger structure that constrains the local radius of curvature. I'm not surprised that you were unable to make a freestanding flexible sapphire rod. I'm talking about thicknesses of no more than a couple of tens of microns, probably less.
The distinction is somewhat semantic. Chemical treatment usually implies reaction, since any material addition otherwise must count as a chemical treatment, but I'm not sure that there is an accepted, standard definition.
Although, as the article mentions, inject enough foreign atoms or ions and you lose the ordered crystalline structure. Whether the resulting material still qualifies to be called sapphire, or meets the full definition of glass, could be questionable though, so you are probably correct.