Thoughts on the Future of the Apple Watch Edition (the Gold One)

Tomorrow, the Apple Watch goes on sale. In three models – alumin(i)um, stainless steel and gold – this new device in search of a user base will attract the Apple faithful, and the tech-curious. I’ll be buying one, though I’m not sure which model (though it won’t be the gold Apple Watch Edition.)

Apple watch editionApple will certainly sell a bunch of gold watches, but we’ll probably never know how many. Priced from $10,000 to $17,000, this watch is clearly for those who want to throw money away. (Save your time; don’t bother commenting that this isn’t expensive for a luxury watch, because this isn’t a luxury watch. It’s the exact same smartwatch as the others, just with a gold case.)

I already wrote some thoughts about this model after the keynote where Tim Cook presented the Apple Watch, and its pricing. I said:

On stage yesterday, at the end of a nearly 90-minute presentation of Apple’s new watch, and other products, Tim Cook said:

“There will be limited quantities of the Apple Watch Edition. It is priced from $10,000, and it will be available in select retail stores.”

Mr. Cook paused for a half-second just after saying the price, and the silence in the room was palpable. Watching Cook say these lines, I was struck by what seemed to be a bit of embarrassment, as though he wasn’t fully behind the idea of selling a watch at this price.

Here’s what I think will happen. After this first Apple Watch model, the Apple Watch Edition will fade away. We won’t see a version 2 of the gold watch, though we may see other metals in the future. Again, to quote my earlier article:

“I wonder if Tim Cook’s embarrassment is a tell; a sign that Cook didn’t want to make a gold watch. That the Apple Watch Edition is a vanity project for Jony Ive, a luxury watch aficionado who rides in a Bentley to work every day. A $10,000 watch (or even $17,000, the highest priced model) is not Apple. While the company is often criticized for selling products at prices higher than competitors, Apple has always backed these prices up with higher quality and better design. Apple has never been a company of bling, and the Apple Watch Edition is bling, nothing more.”

I think the gold Apple Watch is a very un-Apple product. I think it was approved because Jony Ive wanted it to show off to his millionaire friends, and, perhaps, for some of the other millionaires that run Apple. But that type of product is not in Apple’s DNA (to borrow an expression from Steve Jobs).