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An industry expert discusses Apple Watch pricing, features and the possibility of a buyback program

An industry expert discusses Apple Watch pricing, features and the possibility of a buyback program

That iThingy You're Wearing
January 21, 2015

One of the most popular news and review websites for luxury watches is aBlogtoWatch. Founded in 2007 by Los Angeles, California-based Ariel Adams, the site was among the first to offer a thorough analysis of the Apple Watch, as it relates to the watch industry as a whole.

Earlier this month, I published “Which Apple Watch model should you choose?” I offered key predictions about each of the three Apple Watch collections, including how much I thought Apple would be charging for each.

This lead to a lively discussion among AppAdvice readers, many who thought that my pricing predictions were way off the mark.

Among the comments:

Anon noted “sorry but these price points are laughable. i will not be buying any Apple watch at these prices. ever. so i hope you’re wrong.”

Richard explained “Yeah, I might have liked one, but not at these kinds of prices. Everything but the sport model strikes me as jewelry, and rather ugly jewelry at that. And for something that most likely can’t be upgraded? Nope, sorry Apple, I’m not biting.”

I recently had a chat with Adams about the Apple Watch. Specifically, I asked him what type of price points we should expect for the wearable device. Some of the highlights of my interview are mentioned below.

The price

APPLE WATCH 38mm and 42mm Case 316L Space Black Stainless Steel

38mm and 42mm Case
316L Space Black Stainless Steel

At the big Apple Watch reveal in September, Cupertino said that the wearable device would be available at a starting price of $349. Other pricing points weren’t mentioned then, and still haven’t been.

Adam doesn’t believe this was deliberate omission on Apple’s part. Rather, “I believe Apple only mentioned the price of the Apple Watch Sport at the debut in September 2014 is that it was the only product they had a price for.”

With that being said, Adam expects that Apple will charge somewhere between $500 to $700 per watch — at least for the steel versions.

“That takes into consideration the more expensive materials as compared to the aluminum Apple Watch Sport, as well as some built-in exclusivity. In the watch world that is still pretty cheap for a timepiece actually,” he explained.

Straps and bracelets

APPLE WATCH SPORT 38mm and 42mm Case 7000 Series Space Gray Aluminum

38mm and 42mm Case
7000 Series Space Gray Aluminum

So where could Apple make the most money? Adams says that we should keep an eye on the many straps and bracelets Apple will be introducing for the Watch.

His understanding is that Apple Watch customers will have to “exclusively choose from Apple straps and bracelets for the Apple Watch for an initial period of time before Apple opens up this market to third party companies.”

What will an Apple Watch strap or bracelet cost that is not included with an Apple Watch?

“That is very difficult to determine and I wouldn’t assume they are looking at pricing models from the traditional watch world since Apple is in charge of production as well. My gut instinct is that the various available Apple Watch straps and bracelets sold separately will cost from about $30 – $150 each,” Adams said.

A buyback program?

APPLE WATCH EDITION 42mm Case 18-Karat Yellow Gold

42mm Case
18-Karat Yellow Gold

One of the biggest unknowns about the Apple Watch is whether the company will introduce a buyback program for owners so that they can swap out expensive bands and cases when a next-generation of the device is unveiled. This is a feature that I’ve been advocating, as have others in the technology community.

Adams believes that this is possible, perhaps inevitable, at least for the 18 karat gold models.

“This would make customers interesting (sic) in a gold Apple Watch feel more comfortable because their initial investment isn’t just in the watch itself, but also the gold material.” He continues “I feel that somewhere in the $5,000 range or a bit more is where Apple will end up pricing the 18k gold versions of the Apple Watch. This factors in the price of the material, the prestige, as well as Apple wanting to be competitive with traditional gold watches.”

How much are those traditional gold watches?

Plenty, as aBlogtoWatch noted earlier this month in its report, the Top 10 Gold Watches. Think five figures, folks.


Ariel Adams

Ariel Adams

It’s great to hear what someone who covers the watch industry thinks about the Apple Watch. We’ll continue to check in with Adams, especially once the Apple Watch arrives in stores, which could be in March. In the meantime, be sure to visit aBlogtoWatch, and let your comments flow.

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