Coverage: Apple Watch event Monday
Journalists spill a lot of virtual ink on Apple and the event to review the Apple Watch on Monday is no exception. But this new product is a big shift for the company, and could have far-reaching effects on fashion as well as technology.
Writing for Reuters, Nandita Bose and Piya Sinha-Roy that the watch will need to hit the mark on both technology and fashion:
Apple CEO Tim Cook summed up the problem during a conversation with sales staff at a London Apple Store: “We’ve never sold anything as a company that people could try on before.”
With the expected launch next month of the Apple Watch, the company’s first new product in five years, Apple will be stepping into new territory.
To conquer the marketplace, the watch will have to appeal not only as a gadget but as a fashion statement, a fact tacitly acknowledged by Apple’s decision to launch its advertising campaign with a 12-page insert in the March issue of Vogue.
The company isn’t talking about plans for marketing the Apple Watch in advance of it’s much-touted “Spring Forward” event on Monday, but it clearly intends to keep a tight grip on initial sales and distribution, leaving many retailers guessing about when — or if — they’ll be able to sell it.
The Wall Street Journal story by Daisuke Wakabayashi said that Apple was aiming to become a luxury brand with the high-end versions of the watch:
Apple Inc. is technology’s luxury brand. Now it is crossing into high-end fashion, with a smartwatch that blurs the lines between jewelry and gadgetry.
For the Apple Watch, due to be released next month, Apple is adapting its sales pitch to meet new, and differing, consumer expectations.
The smartwatch is the first Apple device designed explicitly to be displayed, rather than tucked away. So, Apple is offering an unusual range of choices, allowing consumers to customize the look—and price—of the Apple Watch with a wide selection of watch casings and straps geared to appeal to varying segments of the market. By contrast, when it introduced the iPhone and iPad, Apple offered one size and one color.
The priciest version of the new smartwatch will be among Apple’s most-expensive products ever, aimed at a clientele accustomed to luxury and personalized service, often in a quiet showroom.
The company hasn’t disclosed the price of the high-end Edition model, covered with clear sapphire and encased in 18-karat rose or yellow gold. Apple watchers estimate the price could surpass $10,000.
Marco della Cava wrote for USA Today that Apple just might cause a cultural shift back to the wristwatch, meaning higher sales for luxury and antique brands:
As Apple gets set to unveil here on Monday what the world assumes will be a consumer-ready version of its debut Watch, it’s natural to wonder whether a $350 smartwatch coup from the Cupertino company could once again spell doom for timepieces composed of microscopic interlocking parts often assembled by hand.
Those high-end watchmakers — whose heirloom wares typically start at $1,000 and can soar to seven figures — need not worry.
In fact, a hit Watch might train millennials to once again look for the time on their wrists — not on their phones. Industry executives and analysts point out Apple has done this with other markets, energizing the MP3 player with its iPod, smartphones with the iPhone and tablets with the iPad.
That cultural shift could result in a new fan base for handmade watches, thereby perpetuating the cult of so-called haute horologerie. The timing would be ripe for such a wristwatch renaissance. In 2010, only 23% of teens said they wore a watch, but that figure has crept up to 44% as fashion has turned the timepiece into jewelry.
Forbes contributor Anthony Wing Kosner had these details about the high end models that might be coming:
When Tim Cook hits the stage Monday to reveal availability and pricing information about Apple Watch, the biggest question he will answer will be about the price of the high-end Edition line. Rumors have pegged that price to range between $5,000 and $20,000. Not a lot, perhaps, compared to a gold Rolex. But a 20-year-old Rolex will still tell the time. Who knows how functional the first Watch will be in five years?
There is now a new development in the pricing story. A new Apple patent has surfaced for a “Method and Apparatus for forming a gold metal matrix composite.”In simple terms, this new “Apple gold” is lighter, stronger and more scratch-resistant than ordinary 18 karat gold through alloys of low-density ceramic particles instead of precious metals. It also contains roughly half the amount of pure 24 karat gold as ordinary 18 karat gold (which is 75% gold, 15% silver, and 10% copper). The math is all explained in geeky detail on a blog called All This.
How much actual gold will be in the Watch Edition? For the models on Apple’s current Edition page, the answer is about half an ounce (current value $640). What Apple isn’t showing on this page is a gold Edition with a solid gold link bracelet. This bracelet only appears in stainless steel on the Watch Collection page. It is not an unreasonable assumption that Apple will roll out a gold link bracelet Edition, which could add another full ounce of gold (total current value $1,920).
Apple as high fashion is interesting. The company rarely does anything half way so it’s not surprising that they have thought through the basic to the ultra-luxury models. And it is a good point that Apple could possibly create such a cultural shift that its newest product will be considered a luxury item.