A jewelry contact familiar with the matter told TechCrunch that the gold, 18-karat version of the Apple Watch could cost around $1,200 retail when it launches in January. This has been corroborated, based on size and weight, by jewelers familiar with the material Apple is using to make its Apple Watch Edition pieces. It should be noted that this is an estimate and the piece could come in well below that price.
Although there is still some confusion as to whether the watch will be gold plated or actually made of gold, the jeweler suggested that it would be sub-optimal not to make the watch out of solid gold alloy, a decision that will drive up the price. The estimate is based on the leaked design images of the iWatch that appeared this weak.
Chad Rickicki, a watch expert in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania said that a case the size and shape of the Apple Watch in 18 carat gold would cost about $600 to make. The rest – the electronics and markup could double that price.
That doesn’t mean that all of the Apple Watches will rest in the rarified air of haute horlogerie. The lower end sport versions will start at $349 and presumably the standard versions, simply called Apple Watch, will receive a premium over that. The Edition watches, however, are expensive because gold is expensive, even at 18K and intermixed with Apple’s alloys.
What does this mean? It suggests an interesting move by the company to turn Apple Stores into luxury destinations. While I’m sure Prada and Louis Vuitton are clamoring to be given access to Apple’s unique band connectors, the upside for a more fashionable, luxury-leaning Apple Watch display in stores means the company will control quality and, more important, control profits on band upgrades.
Apple is entering a fascinating new world of potential partnerships as is, to some degree, the makers of Android Wear devices. Now consumers are going to have to get used to armed guards standing over cases of (tastefully) blinged-out Apple Watches.