Out of Apple’s keynote event from the other week, the most noteworthy news was the company’s unveiling of the widely rumored Apple Watch.
What I want to talk about is not why Apple believes it is the innovator of the smartwatch category or how Apple’s product is actually a latecomer to said category, but why the highest end Watch Edition is not desirable to either watch/jewelry owners or tech enthusiasts.
I am not discounting the regular or sport editions of the Apple Watch. By all means, iOS users deserve to have a smartwatch compatible with their OS ecosystem, just as Android users already have. This is for watch/jewelry and tech owners who would consider this product line.
The Watch Edition starts at $10,000, with the highest one costing $17,000. That’s not unusual for a watch, such as a Rolex, but this is not a typical watch. As LinusTechTips and Jon Rettinger of TechnoBuffalo explained in this YouTube video of The WAN Show, the Watch is a consumer product with a release cycle. Given two years, 18 months, or even a year, it will be replaced just like the iPhone or the iPad.
As iOS improves, the operating system will require more resources from the hardware. Eventually, the Watch Edition will be incapable of receiving software updates to benefit from added security and access to new features. This has already happened to all iPhones before the 4s and the very first iPad with the release of iOS 8.
For those that would strictly buy the Watch Edition as an alternative to a luxury watch of this price range just to keep the time, it has yet to be seen if a digital timepiece can be as convenient as an “old-fashioned” mechanical or quartz watch.
First, let’s look at the accuracy aspect of the Watch Edition and a modern quartz watch. Apple states on the Watch’s official page that it is accurate to within 50 milliseconds of the definitive global time standard. According to Chronocentric.com, even the best non-smartwatch, a modern quartz watch with a (rare) certified chronometer is at worst accurate to within +/-0.02. Apple’s product clearly takes this one.
But I pose a question to those who still would consider a digital watch: which of the two, a Watch Edition or a Rolex, would you rather have while deep sea diving or in a technological crisis, such as in the event of lost global satellite communication? I think the classic luxury watch would be more fitting as a family heirloom in that regard.
Lastly, the amount of carats in each version of the Watch Edition does not refer to the weight of the gold but rather the percentage of the gold’s mass to the total mass. Typically gold in jewelry is combined with a metal alloy, such as metal, giving it much needed durability. The pure, 24-carat variety is not desirable because of its malleability.
Apple’s method uses ceramic in place of silver or another metal, which makes it further scratch resistant and lighter. The lightness of the ceramic explains why the measures of carats remains high since the ratio of gold to the total mass is larger. Nonetheless, this comes at the expense of the gold’s value. One normal cubic centimeter of 18-carat gold contains 11.7 grams of gold. Apple’s cubic centimeter of the same carat-size is only 5.43 grams. It’s easy to notice how this could affect the resell value of the Watch Edition, even before its successor inevitability is released.
For watch consumers who would like to buy a multi-thousand-dollar, luxury timepiece in the future, consider anything but an Apple Watch Edition (I’m assuming no one would buy this product at this price range simply because it can interact with his or her iPhone). The device has seen negative opinions so far from the press, including from the likes of DigitalTrends, The Verge, and TechCrunch. At the very least, if you buy something like a Rolex, you won’t feel nearly as bad if you get buyer’s remorse.