VodkaPundit

Apple Watch Prices: From "That's Nice" to "OMFG"

EDITION

That pretty little number up there is Apple’s most expensive Edition model, topping the charts at $17,000 per. Availability will be “limited” as will be outlets at which to buy it. You won’t be hitting the Apple Store at your local mall to try on one of those babies.

The Sport line starts at $349 as promised and tops out at $399. The only differentiation is the 38mm versus 42mm sizes — all colors and bands cost the same. The bands are so easy to switch out, I expect many buyers will be happy to spend another $49 each for extras in various colors to suit their moods. The buy-in might look steep, but this is easily the best smartwatch made right now, and I don’t expect it to obsolesce any time soon. It’s also a safe bet that, like iPhones and iPads, there will be a lot of kids getting some very nice hand-me-downs as their parents upgrade. Casa Verde has a perfectly-functional iPhone 1 and an iPhone 3GS floating around here somewhere, which might still be getting use if we hadn’t run out of people to use them.

That said, I don’t know if the Sport will be another “line up at the Apple Store weeks in advance” item at launch — but it’s easy and safe to predict that Apple will sell oodles of them.

The stainless steel Watch line is where the pricing gets really interesting, and also quite competitive.

LOOP

Pricing starts at $549 for the smaller model with a rubber Sport band, and tops out at $1099 for the larger model with the link bracelet. I fell in love at first sight with the Milanese Loop bracelet back in September, and was pleasantly surprised to see that it’s one of the less-expensive upgrades at $649-$699. (On all but Edition 18k gold models, the price difference is always $50 between the 38mm and 42mm sizes.) Since Watch is “the” Apple Watch, I’d expected a broader range of prices, starting at $649 or so and topping out around $1500 — and I suspect even those prices wouldn’t have scared off many prospective buyers.

Longtime Sharp VodkaPundit Reader™ and watch collector Mr Lion commented, “The stainless pricing is spot on. A grand for a gadgety daily wear is perfect,” and I think he’s spot on with that comment. It’s not easy to find any stainless steel watch for $999 with a link bracelet as nice as the one Apple Watch has. Throw in all the smartwatch features and it becomes a no-brainer. I’d wager it’s going to be the upper-middle-class accessory item in the next 12-18 months.

About those Edition prices…

When you buy a gold Rolex, you aren’t just paying for the gold — you’re also paying for the intricate and hand-tooled mechanisms inside, which with proper care will last more than a lifetime. But an Apple Watch — whether Sport or Watch or Edition — is still just an Apple Watch with electronic guts which will be obsolete in five years or so. In other words, when you buy an Edition watch, you’re really just paying more for the gold. Some buyers will find that’s worth their money, but I don’t know if that will prove to be as many buyers as Apple expects. On the other hand, if the company really is moving into fashion, it might serve them well to have a very, very select clientele of Edition buyers.

We’ll know for sure if Edition flopped if prices come down, or if the line quietly disappears from Apple’s selection.

When Apple previewed their new watch last fall, I wrote:

Steve Jobs liked to say that Apple stood at the intersection of Technology and Liberal Arts. That’s a fine place to stand, but that corner might have seen as much development, if I may belabor the analogy, as it’s going to get for a while. You have a desktop, a laptop, a tablet, a smartphone — we’re running out of places to put computers. Which is why everyone has expected “wearables” to be the Next Big Thing for a couple of years now, ever since the smartphone and tablet markets started closing in on their saturation points.

It’s time then for Apple, or for somebody, to set up shop at a new crossroads — the intersection of Technology and Style.

After seeing today’s demo and the prices, all I would add now is that Apple has set up a very big and profitable shop at those crossroads.