Could Gold Apple Watch cost $5,000?


My wrists and I have had a troubled relationship since last week.

Ever since Apple revealed its vast array of watches, my lower forearms have looked up at me and hissed: “Well? You’re going to leave us naked?”

Apple Watch

So I spent some time yesterday browsing Apple’s site and perusing all the different types of watches that will soon be available.

The fancier model — the so-called Apple Watch Edition — does look relatively lovely on tiny female forms. But how much might it cost? All Tim Cook offered last week was that the watches — the cheapest presumably being the sporty ones you’ll sweat all over — will start at $349.

Then along comes influential Apple observer John Gruber to insert a little informed perspective.

“Apple Watch is not a product from a tech company, and it will not be understood, at all, by the tech world,” he said.

This incites a kaleidoscope of optimism for those who find tech minds frightfully insular. For Gruber, the higher-end watches — the Apple Watch made of stainless steel and the Watch Edition adorned with 18-karat gold — will be competing directly with fancy watches.

What they will offer is a (hopefully) gorgeous watch with some fancy gizmos attached.

It’s a persuasive concept, one that makes your standard Rolexy thing a klutzy lump of gold that can merely tell the time and make you look like something of a exhibitionist half-wit.

However, if you want your artistic creation to seem valuable, you have to price it as such. So Gruber wagers that the stainless steel Apple watch will start at around $999. The Edition, however, he places at $4,999.

In his words: “I think Apple Watch prices are going to be shockingly high — gasp-inducingly, get-me-to-the-fainting-couch high — from the perspective of the tech industry. But at the same time, there is room for them to be disruptively low from the perspective of the traditional watch and jewelry world.”

The thing that’s missing currently is the full gamut of what Apple’s watches will be capable of doing. We’ve seen the basic hardware, but we don’t know that much about the software.

Between now and their launch — some time in 2015 — Apple’s team has time, surely, to develop and keep in secrecy all sorts of amusing functionality. This functionality will keep your first date enthralled for hours as you waft your Apple Watch before his or her mesmerized eyes.

Not only will you seem to be a person of means, but one who means to know where the world is at.

Even if the fanciest of its watches costs $4,999, Apple still has the problem of obsolescence and general pain-in-the-buttness.

Do you really want an extra item to charge every night? Do you really want to replace your watch every couple of years? Or might there, as Gruber suggests, be a nifty software-update solution so that you don’t have to toss it in the drawer next to all your old iPhones?

What’s most important here, though, is that Apple is proving ever more that what is conventionally called tech is not its main domain.

We humans are posers, as much if not more than we’re thinkers. We sift the world through imagery, rather than substance. Somehow, substance is a more shifty essence than is our world of impressions.

Impressions are instant, substance takes time. There are too many demands on our time for us to bother to dig deep into the substance of everything (or even anything much at all). So we sift our world by looking at it and absorbing impressions.

More Technically Incorrect

Apple’s watches will exist first to make certain impressions. Buried a little deeper, however, will likely be a certain substance that is unique to these fashion accessories. This is what Apple means when it says these are the most “personal” devices it’s ever made.

It’s like any relationship. You’re first moved by looks. Then you hope that there’s something more behind them, something that will be the glue that creates a deeper, longer-lasting bond.

You might choose to pay $4,999 or even more for a gold Apple Watch Edition. But you’ll need it to be more than just a pretty face. And that’s where Apple hopes to make a killing.