Social media and commentators went wild discussing the whopping price tag and whether it made sense for Apple to pit its 18 karat gold model against the stalwarts of the Swiss watch industry.
Why would you buy an Apple Watch Edition over a Rolex? And has the Apple device now become an investable timepiece – like some of its luxury counterparts?
Watch experts said the Apple Watch is lacking any history and despite the exclusivity of the Edition model, it is still a mass market product.
“You are talking about a mass product and on the other hand exclusive watches which are crafted by one person making the piece. It is a different market,” Geoffroy Ader, managing director of auctioneers Antiquorum Online, told CNBC by phone.
“My feeling is that it is difficult to predict if it will retain its value. As soon as this one is produced and distributed, engineers will work on the Apple Watch 2, Apple Watch 3. Do people collect iPhones? No.”
The Apple Watch edition has an 18 karat gold case with different straps and was unveiled at a launch event this week. The electronic part of the watch is same as the cheaper $350 aluminium model, but the higher price is down to the inclusion of the precious metal and aim of exclusivity.
Bernstein projects 7.5 million units of the Apple Watch will be sold in the second half of 2015 and 20 million sold in 2016 though the Edition models are expected to sell significantly fewer units, and analysts have said that if Apple’s device does well then it will boost the overall smartwatch market.
Experts have said that the Apple Watch will likely eat away at Swatch’s market since they make watches at a lower price point. The Swiss company responded by unveiling plans on Thursday to bring out a smartwatch of its own, but not with the full features of companies like Samsung or Motorola.
Apple vintage market?
Analysts aren’t concerned that the Apple Watch will hit high-end watchmakers, but will in fact be complementary for collectors of luxury Swiss watches.
“I’m sure collectors will have their favourite watch on the left hand and the Apple Watch on the right hand,” Geoffroy added.
But essentially the Apple Watch Edition is an electronic device, and watch experts fear the outdated software will make it redundant, unlike a mechanical Rolex. But they aren’t ruling out a collectors’ market for the smartwatch.
“Will Apple’s 50 year old watch still have software that is compatible? If Apple release 20 different updates, who’s to say that will work in the future?,” Lloyd Amsdon, co-founder of Watchfinder, told CNBC by phone.
“In 50 years’ time who’s to say there won’t be an Apple vintage market? I could end up in a nice watch collection but has a niche collectors value.”